Evidence-Based Innovation Blog

Boost Business School Survey Response Rates: Broadcast Your Results

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 9:07:00 AM

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We are often asked, “What response rate should I expect from my non-degree or graduate management education (GME) survey?” The question itself is so general that it cannot be answered without referencing the questionnaire design, the specific audience, and the methods used to announce the survey.  

In general, our clients average a 75% response rate across each of our GME Lifecycle surveys. This is the first of a series of articles to provide tips and tricks to achieve these rates or higher.


Broadcast Select Findings

Business school surveys are more likely to be completed when students/alumni are confident that the feedback collected will be used and that information about the findings will reach them. Sometimes the strongest motivation is the promise that the respondents will receive access to the survey results.

A topline summary of the results can be provided to respondents as an incentive. This summary can be selectively edited to omit confidential or competitive insights. It is not necessary to communicate all the data collected – instead, choose issues that may be most important to the participants.

Providing survey results are a reciprocal incentive – the school is asking for information from respondents and providing information in return. As a result, such an incentive tacitly encourages honest and candid responses.

At the same time of providing the summary results, it is advantageous to announce respondents who were awarded any lottery incentive prize associated with the survey (we address incentives in a separate article). This will encourage those who did not participate this time to participate in the next research initiative. 

Business school stakeholders who respond will want to see results, and getting these results will encourage them to complete the survey.

Communication Does Not Stop When the Survey Ends

How will you communicate the survey results? This step is quite important because the participants will want to know what became of the feedback they provided via the survey. No matter how you decide to communicate, it is important to make the results easy to understand.

Non-degree and GME program administrators should be thoughtful about the timing and content of communications regarding the results of their surveys. One of the most important considerations is ensuring that the availability of the results is adequate.

It is a disservice if the results are published in a location that is not accessible for an adequate time for the survey respondents to digest or is difficult to access when it is available.

Some ideas for providing feedback about the survey results include:

  • Town Hall Sessions: This allows students to ask questions and have them answered immediately. Tip: Topline summaries can be released prior to the event allowing questions to be submitted in writing ahead of time for the presenter to answer during the session.
  • Live Webcasts: Similar to a town hall meeting, this is a virtual method to reach alumni or students that are no longer on campus. A recording/archive of the webcast will be helpful for those who were unable to attend the live presentation.
  • Email: The topline results can be emailed to those who responded and; possibly, those who did not.
  • Newsletter: If you publish a newsletter on a regular basis, this would be a way to inform stakeholders of the results, as well as another way to announce the winners of a lottery incentive.

Additionally, the language used to summarize the survey results should be as clear and concise as the language in any of the communications promoting the survey. Be respectful of the quality of stakeholder conversations and ensure they are able to easily comment on the findings or ask for more information.


Please leave us a comment on how your non-degree or GME pogram shares survey feedback with your students or alumni. We would love to hear about your experience and your tips!


Brian Mahoney, the author for this article, is a marketing research consultant and Managing Partner of Percept Research. Brian welcomes your questions and comments.

Topics: Brian Mahoney, Boost Response Rates