How we got a 40% response rate on a customer survey

It's absolutely true, we got a response rate of 40%.

In this short post I'm going to show you the warts-n-all of what we did, and I'll keep my fingers crossed there's something you can take away into your own surveys.

A 40% response is not unheard of but normally we'd associate this kind of number with an internal staff survey. For a customer survey we'd expect something in the region of 5% to 10%.

What makes this more remarkable is we only sent one request by email, we didn't send a single follow up, and actually closed the survey once responses reached 100.

Yeah that's right - it'd have been higher had we left the survey open more than 24 hours.

The actual email open rate was 68%, and a click through rate of 45%!

Here's what we did

We've been doing a lot of work recently on improving the user experience of Timetastic and as part of that we wanted to get a better handle on who exactly our customers are.

  1. Create Survey: We created a short(ish) survey on Survey Monkey, it took me about 3 hours to finalize and I estimated it would take between 3 to 5 minutes for our customers to complete.

  2. User Segment: We selected a segment of users that had joined Timetastic in the last four months and had converted to paying customers - 250 of them. We use so segmenting the data was a painless task taking no more than 10 minutes.

  3. Draft Email. I've been doing a lot of research on email copy recently and found some excellent resources. Val Geisler in particular has some interesting content and is well worth reading.

In the instance of a survey I'd read the following structure would be a good starting point:

  • Introduction
  • What you'd like them to do
  • What you can offer in return

Here's the email I came up with, inclusive of my embarrasing spelling mistake:


The survey request was sent out on a Monday afternoon at 14:30 UK time.

The £10 offer was fair given the survey size and compared to the value of our service. Because we were only expecting up to 25 responses the cost of the survey would have been £250 in revenue. Given the data we'd be collecting would inform our future user experience, marketing and communication, this was a tiny price to pay.

How come 40%?

Unless we sent another survey with that exact question I guess we can only speculate, but I'd say it's fair to assume a mix of the following:

  • The email copy was just right
  • £10 was a fantastic offer
  • 14:30 was spot on for hitting people on their post lunch lull
  • We have very loyal and helpful customers

It's probably a mix of all of the above.

But if there's one thing I've learned in this process, it's that occasionally your expectations get completely blown out of the water, and what a great feeling that is.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash