Survey success: How I increased my response rate by 116% and you can too!


One of the best things about having an audience in email is how easy it can be to get feedback. People have the expectation that email is a two way street and I’ll routinely get folks replying to my newsletters when they read something interesting (or when I mess something up!).

It’s no surprise that many people survey their audience to learn more about them, what they like and dislike, and how to better serve them. Heck, we survey our own audience – you may have gotten one of those survey emails from us in the past.

One of the questions I always ask before sending a survey is, “how can we make it as easy as possible for someone to respond to this survey?” Recently, I ran an experiment that completely blew me away and doubled the response rate to my survey.

In the past I would send these types of survey emails with a link or button that took people to the survey. 

Here’s an example of one:

Survey control email

I had the hypothesis that if we let people answer the first question of a survey directly from the email more people would end up submitting the survey. I thought this would happen for two reasons:

1 – Letting people answer the first question creates momentum and buy-in. They’ve already seen some progress on the survey so the idea of finishing it doesn’t seem like such a large lift. 

2 – “Take the survey” buttons or links imply a level of effort that is off putting.

To test this, I set up a simple Typeform survey which was integrated with my AWeber account  and embedded the answers to the first question (it has to be multiple choice for this to work) as links in my email

When a reader clicked on one of the links, they were directed to the survey with their answer selected. I tested this against the same email with a button linking to the survey.

Here’s what my email looked like:

Survey test email

The results that blew my mind

Results of the survey test

Let’s break this down and see if my hypothesis was correct.

✅ If we let people answer the first question of a survey directly from the email more people would end up submitting the survey

This one is pretty straightforward. We had a significantly higher completion rate.

✅ Embedding Answers Creates a Feeling of Momentum

I can’t say for certain, but I believe this is happening. Folks hit the survey on the web having already made progress, so they are not “starting” the survey, they are continuing it.

⛔ “Take the Survey” Buttons Imply Too Much Effort

I was wrong here. I saw an equal amount of people click through to take the survey, so it does not appear that people expected the survey to be a heavier lift to the point that they did not click through to start the survey.

Increase your survey responses

If you’re looking to improve the completion rate of your email surveys, try this approach and 

let me know how it works. 

Hopefully you’ll see significantly more responses!


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