Survey Research Response Rates

Survey research response rates can vary widely depending on several factors, including the method of delivery, the target population, the survey’s topic, and the length of the survey. Below is an approximation of response rates by survey type. Keep in mind that these figures can fluctuate based on the specifics of each survey:

Mail Surveys: Historically, mail surveys have seen response rates of about 5% to 20%. The response rate can be improved with follow-up mailings, attractive survey design, and incentives.

Telephone Surveys: Response rates for telephone surveys have declined over the years, partly due to caller ID and telemarketing calls, but they typically range from 9% to 20%. Landline surveys tend to have higher response rates than mobile phone surveys, though this gap is closing as the prevalence of landlines decreases.

Online Surveys: Online surveys often have a wide range of response rates, from as low as 2% to as high as 30%, depending on how the sample is drawn and how participants are recruited. Response rates tend to be higher when participants are pre-recruited or have a vested interest in the topic.

Face-to-Face Surveys: These can have higher response rates, often between 30% and 60%, due to the personal touch. However, they are also the most costly and time-consuming to conduct.

Mixed-Mode Surveys: Combining different methods (e.g., mail followed by online reminders) can improve response rates significantly, sometimes achieving rates of 20% to 40%, depending on the mix of methods used.

Several strategies can improve response rates across all types of surveys, including personalizing invitations, offering incentives, sending reminders, and ensuring anonymity or confidentiality. The length of the survey, clarity of the instructions and questions, relevance of the topic to the respondents, and stated purpose of the survey can also influence the response rate. It’s also important to make the survey as concise and relevant as possible to respect the respondent’s time and increase the likelihood of completion.


Del Siegle
University of Connecticut