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Reasons for Maximising response rates

Receiving a low response rate from your survey will skew the results due to response bias, as certain types of people are more
likely to respond to surveys than others so certain views will prevail. A higher response rate allows more robust statistical
calculations to be carried out: a high number of responses is essential if you wish to look at responses from different sub-
groups such as those from particular regions.

The success of the survey depends on a good response. The better the rate, the more representative the survey will be of the
population. A response rate above that anticipated will bring more confidence and reliability to the results.
Likewise, a response rate that falls short may bring into question the reliability and representativeness of the findings.

By following simple guidelines you can significantly increase the number of respondents who complete your survey, read on to
find out how.

Actions you can take to maximise response rates
·Prior notification
Potential respondents should be made aware of the importance of the imminent survey through media, post, staff newsletters
or other means. This works by drawing the respondent's attention to the purpose of the survey and the potential benefits.
When the questionnaire arrives it will get a better reception.

·Make a good first impression
The immediate impression made when the survey arrives (either through the post, telephone or face to face) is very
important. If postal, make sure the envelope the questionnaire arrives in has your company logo on it prominently and uses
white envelopes not brown. Where feasible hand deliver and collect the questionnaires. Do not use the mailing
of postal surveys to include any other information.

·Content and quality of the covering letter
Keep the covering letter simple. Write in plain English and use only to explain the purpose of the survey and assure the target
population of their confidentiality. Personalise the letter by sending it to specific individuals where possible.

·Good questionnaire design
The design and appearance of the questionnaire is of critical importance. Make sure the wording is clear and formulated in
such a way as to engage the respondent. Use skilled researchers to design the questionnaire. Use decent quality paper and a
minimum of ten-point font size as standard. Keep the questionnaire as short as is possible asking only questions that are
essential to your research objectives. Limit the number of open questions since these take more time to complete and often
have a negative effect, as respondents see them as an indication that the research has not been fully thought through. Ensure
you include a pre-paid pre-addressed envelope that is the correct size for the questionnaire.

·Try using incentives
This could be monetary or entry to a prize draw. An incentive can be prepaid or promised on completion of the survey. The
prize should match the target population e.g. high street vouchers would be ideal for a survey of the general population.

·Make sure the survey is accessible to all
Ensure large print copies of the questionnaires will be available to those who require them. If your survey population is likely to
include people whose first language is not English, include a translation on the covering letter detailing where they can get a
translated copy of the questionnaire and/or speak to someone who speaks that language. Ensure you have translated copies of
the questionnaire for the most commonly used languages amongst your target population.

·Provide a helpline
Set up a telephone helpline for respondents to contact. Provide a named contact if possible and ensure there is an answer
machine with a stated response time to enquiries. Ensure that the main switchboard, general enquiry lines and other
departments are aware of the survey - respondents are likely to ring other parts of your organisation about the questionnaire
(even if you include the specific number). Provide them with the helpline details or with the contact details for the
survey manager.

·Questionnaire administration
In telephone and face-to-face surveys skilled interviewers will increase the response rate. They are trained in refusal
conversion or persuasion.

·Effective follow-up
Arrange for reminder letters or postcards or phone calls to non-respondents. It's best to include a copy of the questionnaire
with reminder letters. For surveys where you have telephone details you may follow up with telephone calls at different times
of the day. Closely monitor the response so that remedial action can be taken if necessary such as booster samples or an
additional reminder.

·Adhere to Professional guidelines
To make sure that your research is effective check out the appropriate current professional standards and guidelines. For
example, those on the UK Market Research Society's website: http://www.mrs.org.uk/standards/guidelines.htm or use a
researcher who is a member of a professional organisation

      Courtesy : Snap Surveys



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