Recommendations for Reducing Non-Response Rates

There are 10 simple ways to reduce the non-response rate:

1. Recruit from a variety of sources. Don't just send invitations via email - post the survey in different online communities (forums, social networks, etc.).

2. Personalise the email invitations. Personalised messages increase the response rate by at least 5%, sometimes even more. So, address invitations to "Ms./Mr. Smith", not just to "Dear Ms./Mr."

3. Keep the email invitation short and simple. In addition to the link to the online survey, don't forget to point out:

  • who you are;
  • what the survey means for each individual;
  • the length of the survey (especially if it is short, but don't be misleading, as respondents are more open to completing longer surveys if they know what to expect);
  • the anonymity of the survey.

4. Keep the first page of the survey simple and attractive. Make it motivating for respondents. Do not put instructions on it, as research shows that respondents are reluctant to read long instructions on the first page.

5. However - highlight how you will use the answers. Write this down on the first page. People prefer to give information on the internet if they are familiar with how it will be used. So emphasise anonymity and the confidentiality of the information, or plans to share it with others.

6. Don't forget to send email reminders. After a certain period of time, send a second invitation to people who have not responded to the survey. You can do this by sending a thank you to those who have already responded and encouraging those who have not yet done so. However, it is better not to send more than two reminders and, in particular, to remove the e-mail addresses of those who no longer wish to be contacted.

7. Consider offering incentives - gifts, rewards, etc. Studies show that you don't need big or expensive incentives to increase response rates. Even small gifts can help to increase response rates.

8. Some people simply want to share their opinion. Many people will respond to a survey just because they want to share their opinion, not because of the rewards. So consider making the prize optional - e.g. hold a prize draw.

9. Make strategic use of graphics and other online opportunities. Generally, surveys do not need graphics; they can sometimes even be distracting or influence the answers. In some cases, however, graphics can increase response rates (e.g. a link or picture of the reward, etc.).

10. Publicise the results of the survey. Respondents are interested in the results of the survey and publishing them will help motivate them to complete the survey.

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