In an era where data drives decisions, surveys are invaluable tools. Good surveys can give you incredible insights—assuming you also have good response rates.

In fact, the success of your research surveys will often hinge on your response rates. High participation ensures a diverse and robust dataset. Meanwhile, low engagement can skew results, diminishing the value of any insights gained. 

In this article, we’ll explore innovative new strategies for enhancing survey response rates across various domains. Keep reading for tailored survey approaches and creative engagement techniques.

Average survey response rates—and how to boost them

You need to understand your baseline before you can improve it, which is why it’s helpful to have a good understanding of average survey response rates. 

That said, ‘average’ is hard to determine here. Survey response rates can vary widely, influenced by things like delivery method, the relationship between the surveyor and respondent, and the perceived value of participating. 

Average response rates can therefore hover anywhere between 5% to 30%, a wide range and one that certainly leaves room for improvement.


How get your average response rate up easily

While we’ll explore some creative ways to boost engagement further below, let’s get down to brass tacks. The best way to boost any survey response rates is to use good incentives. It’s basically playing ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ with your potential respondents. 

Whether it's through financial rewards, gift cards, a virtual prepaid Visa, or other tokens of appreciation, incentives communicate value and respect for your respondent's time and insights.

It comes down to basic human psychology. No matter the size of a reward, studies show it generates a positive emotional response and creates a sense of reciprocity, too. 

Consider the flip side: how many times have you been asked by a company to complete a survey, and been told how highly they valued your opinion? Then they proceed to ask you question after question, taking up way more time than you expected. And then after all that work, there’s no reward at the end, nothing to say ‘thank you’ except maybe a stock email. 

So … how do you feel about the company now? And how would you feel if they’d given you even a small digital reward at the end? 

In short, incentives show participants that you actually value their opinion and their time. 

Moreover, incentives can be particularly compelling when they are aligned with the interests and preferences of your target audience, thereby enhancing the perceived value of the reward (more details on how to actually do this below).

Better still, incentives don’t have to require heavy lifting or huge budgets. For example, Giftbit’s simple tools makes it easy for companies to run easy yet effective research incentive programs.

Giftbit also lets you offer low denomination rewards—even gift cards as low as $1.

Pro-tip: Instead of offering a big reward to a limited number of participants (like $100 to the first ten people who complete your survey), Giftbit’s Head of Customer Success Sofia Baltasar suggests spreading that budget out into smaller rewards for each respondent.

“If you don’t make it crystal clear that every survey participant is going to get something, guaranteed, then expect your response rates to be lower,” she says.

How to increase survey response rates in market research

In market research, the key to getting lots of accurate answers is making sure people actually want to fill out your surveys. Incentives here aren’t just thank-you gifts—they're a smart way to get more people involved. 

Clearly communicating both your goals and your gratitude are incredibly powerful in boosting market research response rates. When people believe that their opinions will help shape products or services, they’ll be more eager to share their thoughts. 

And when they believe you value their time, they’ll be more likely to give it. Saying, “Hey, thanks for helping us” with a digital gift card can turn a maybe into a definite yes.

This is how Sofia boosted her own customer survey response rate from below 1% to over 20%, simply by using $5 Starbucks gift cards from Giftbit as incentives. 

In order for this strategy to work, your rewards need to be instantaneous. In other words, you want to provide an instant thank you, right away. That’s why it often makes sense to use a gift card platform to optimize this process. 


Tips for using incentives in market research 

In order for incentives to work, they need to actually excite people. Matching your incentive to your target audience is what will make them more likely to take part. That’s why to make the most of incentives here you first need to know your audience.

So if you’re asking business pros to take a survey, you might choose gift cards for coffee shops or online stores they’d like. 

Meanwhile, if your survey targets tech enthusiasts, you might offer Apple gift cards or gift cards to Best Buy or Xbox. Or if you’re surveying foodies, offer gift cards to popular restaurants or online food delivery services.

Meanwhile, avid readers might prefer gift cards to Barnes and Noble, while travel buffs would be more likely to go for AirBNB or hotel stays. 

Catering your incentives like this doesn’t just boost your response rates. It also signals that you understand and appreciate your audience—helping to boost loyalty and long-term engagement, too. 

rewards catalogHow to increase survey response rates in academic research

Academic research requires data that is rich and varied, which is why high survey rates are so critical here. The depth and credibility of your study will often hinge on the success of your surveys. 

Similar to conducting market research, success in academic surveys comes down to recognizing the unique needs and motivations of your audience—and then adjusting your approach accordingly. 

Remember that academic calendars are dense and typically filled with deadlines and commitments.

To counteract this, offer some flexibility in terms of deadlines, and use reminders and ongoing incentives to stay top-of-mind

Maintaining High Response Rates in Long-Term Academic Studies

Academic studies with extended timelines face the added challenge of keeping participants engaged over months or even years. To keep respondents engaged in long term studies, you’ll need a plan for both better communication and more thoughtful incentives. 

First up, you’ll want to maintain meaningful communication throughout your study. So keep participants invested by providing updates and summaries of interim findings. 

And be sure to address participants by name and acknowledge their time and contribution. These personal touches can help participants feel valued and remind them of their crucial role in the success of the study. 

You’ll also want to adjust your incentive strategy as the study progresses. Offer new and ideally escalating rewards for each subsequent phase of your study to help keep your engagement up.



Modern Platform, Easy UI

I would recommend Giftbit to anyone wanting to incentivize or reward people. This is a minimal-hassle platform that takes the pain out of keeping track of hundreds or thousands of gift cards sent.

Rob R.
Strategic Programs & New Partnerships Manager

How to increase survey response rates from employees

Employee surveys are incredibly important to long-term business growth. It’s also notoriously challenging to get your employees to actually take them. 

Increasing survey response rates from employees is all about making the process easy, rewarding, and meaningful. Employees need to see the value in taking surveys, not just for the organization but for their own work life too. 

That means you need to be clear about why you're asking for their feedback. Make sure they understand how their responses will help make their day-to-day work better or improve the workplace. 

Like you’d expect, incentives work incredibly well here, too—assuming they hit the mark. It's about showing appreciation for their time and input.

And don’t assume you need to break the bank; simple rewards like a $5 gift card to Amazon work surprisingly well.