What is a response rate? A response rate is the number of valid replies received from a given campaign, typically expressed as a percentage. Response rates measure engagement on campaigns like surveys, emails, and quizzes.
Have you ever sent out a survey or a mass email requesting a reply? If so, you’ve likely worked with response rates. A response rate is the percentage of valid replies you receive from your request.
Notice that we said “valid replies” instead of total replies. Responses that contain bogus information are typically eliminated from the count of replies because response rates focus on the number of valid responses a campaign generates.
The use of a response rate
They’re generally used to measure how engaging a given campaign is. The more people who reply, the higher the rate. Higher responses tend to lead to better outcomes.
It could also be used to determine the validity of the information received from the campaign. If a response rate on a survey about shopping preferences was less than five percent, the organizer might decide that the campaign did not generate a large enough sample size to validate the responses. The many people who didn’t respond might not feel the same way as the few people who did respond.
How to calculate a response rate
Divide the number of valid responses by the total number of responses requested.
For example, if you send an email survey to 5,000 people, and 2,852 responded with valid answers, your response rate would be 57% (2,852 divided by 5,000 equals .57).
Response rate vs. completion rate
Response rates and completion rates are often discussed in the same conversation, particularly when it comes to surveys. But there is a key difference. While response rates focus on the percentage of total valid responses, completion rates count only the responses that are complete.
When a marketer emails a survey to a group, some surveys may be submitted without a reply to every question. These surveys would count toward the response rate but not toward the completion rate.
Examples of a response rate
- Survey submissions: In a survey, this is the number of surveys submitted compared to the number of surveys distributed. Organizations often send surveys to recent customers requesting customer feedback.
- Email replies: In emails, this is the number of replies compared to the number of emails sent. If you’re trying to organize an event, you might email the key participants to coordinate schedules and decide on a date for the event. Those who reply count toward your rate.
- Quizzes taken: In quizzes, this is the number of quizzes submitted compared to the number of quizzes shared. A social media influencer in the personal finance industry might quiz their followers on finance topics with a chance to win a prize. A higher response rate means more followers are engaged.
- Assessments: In assessments, this is the number of assessments submitted compared to the number of assessments offered. Schools might offer an assessment to determine the level of knowledge for an incoming class. The higher the rate, the more confident instructors can be that the curriculum will suit the students.
What is a good response rate?
The percentage that constitutes a good rate depends on the medium used. For example, more people will respond to an in-person survey than a telephone survey.
A general rule of thumb is 33 percent. If you can get a submission from one-third of the people you reach, you’re likely doing pretty well.
Ways to improve your response rate
- Offer an incentive. A gift card to all respondents or a chance to be entered in a drawing to win a large prize is effective.
- Keep it short. People are busy.
- Make it easy to access and complete. Use an easy-to-navigate, glitch-free platform.
- Explain the significance of the campaign. People are more likely to respond if they understand why you’re asking them to.
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