Evidence-Based Innovation Blog

Optimal Survey Scheduling to Boost B-School Survey Response Rates

Posted on Jul 31, 2012 10:34:00 AM

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If you are planning to conduct a non-degree or GME satisfaction survey, it is important to do everything you can to boost your response rate to minimize cost and speed up the turnaround time. This is one of a series of articles to provide tips and tricks to help you get the best possible response rate from your business school market research.


Scheduling for Survey Success

B-school experience surveys are an extra activity in the lives of GME students, alumni, and non-degree participants. Related to the optimal timing for sending survey invitations, strategically planning when your GME Lifecycle surveys are delivered will go a long way toward increasing your response rate.  


To improve response rates in non-degree and GME loyalty studies, it is optimal to send invitations close to a trigger event in the stakeholder lifecycle. The longer the lag between the trigger event and the survey, the lower the response rate.

For example, we recommend launching a GME Student Exit Survey 1-2 weeks prior to the last time students will be on campus. This optimal timing as it is near the closure of the student journey and provides an opportunity for a face-to-face touch point to encourage participation, which is a strong motivation.

The best time to conduct a non-degree or GME satisfaction survey is when the experience is fresh in their minds. If you wait too long to conduct a survey, the student response may be less accurate. The respondent may have forgotten important details or may answer about a later event that is not the focus of the survey. 

Some of our clients have found success with scheduling a web or paper-based survey during class time. Some GME programs have found this to be useful as it ensures that everyone participates. This demonstrates the importance of the feedback to the school and engages faculty as a catalyst in the process.

We recommend initiating a survey close to each intake or outtake for a GME program such that a program with three cohorts would initiate three Entry surveys at each intake so the recollections will be fresh and response rates higher. The fee structure of the Percept Research Entry and Exit surveys include up to three surveys within the academic year to promote survey recency.

Fielding Length

Business schools should limit the fielding of their non-degree and GME experience surveys to 2-3 weeks. Longer fielding periods usually decrease response rates. Most participants do not typically keep the invitation and come back to it at a later date to complete the survey. If the announced deadline is not ‘urgent’, then the survey invitations may be lost or forgotten. Check out this blog article about the strategic use of deadlines.

Frequency of Reminders

A majority of participants tend to respond to a web survey invitation within 48 hours, or not at all. Thus, it is not necessary to wait very long between sending reminders to your target audience (preferably within 4-7 days).

Too many reminders can push your participants away and cause survey fatigue. With a two-week fielding window, one or two reminders are acceptable, and they should be somewhat different in context so that they are distinguishable to focus on different WIIFM (What's In It For Me) benefits.

To complement distinguishable content within each survey invitation, we recommend alternating the day of the week and time of day when possible with each reminder. This increases the likelihood of contacting your entire audience at an optimal time. For example, one respondent may typically travel on Tuesdays whereas another respondent may have standing meetings on Wednesdays.

It is good practice to vary the days and times that survey invitations are sent.


Please leave a comment about your non-degree or GME program’s tactics for boosting survey response. 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