Online Surveys = Ongoing Insights

How Many Days Does it Take for Respondents to Respond to Your Survey?

How Many Days Does it Take for Respondents to Respond to Your Survey?

Survey created. Check. Survey sent by email. Check. Survey posted to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Check, check, and check. Log in to SurveyMonkey to see the results start coming in (yes, it’s addictive!).

But, the question is: How long should you really wait before starting to analyze your results?

How long, on average, does it take for the majority of respondents to complete a survey? We wanted to find out, so you could know how patient to be.

What we analyzed.

We selected a random sample of 500,000 individual respondents who received survey invitations (using the SurveyMonkey email collector) in 2009 and 2010. We excluded the first week of January, the last week of November, and the last two weeks of December to normalize for US holidays. We limited our analysis to surveys that collected between 50 and 500 responses, so any single survey that received thousands (or millions—yes, some get millions!) of responses did not skew the results. And, we only included responses to surveys created by SurveyMonkey professional accounts since free accounts can only have up to 100 responses per survey.

What we learned.

The majority of responses to surveys using an email collector were gathered in the first few days after email invitations were sent:

  • 41% of responses were collected within 1 day
  • 66% of responses were collected within 3 days
  • 80% of responses were collected within 7 days

Only 11% of responses were collected during the second week of the survey period, and another 4% during the third week.

What does this mean for you?

You can peek during Day 1, but you might want to wait until Day 7 to run any significant analysis. And, if you’re trying to generate more responses, you might consider sending out a reminder email after a week to see if that triggers a bump from your laggards.

Looking for more data and insights?

Check out these additional posts on our blog where we answered the following questions:

What’s been your experience with respondents and how long it takes them to respond? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Thank you for the great content, Survey Monkey.

    This will likely prove to be truly helpful to me in the future when doing surveys.

    It is also important to recognize that the responsiveness of email lists in any given industry will undoubtedly affect the response rates of your surveys.

    Jared Silver
    The Teenage Internet Marketer

  • Michael

    I’ve had ZERO response so far… I wish surveymonkey offered a service that had respondents ready to take your survey…

    • Hi Michael–we have actually just rolled out a new service where you can send your survey to a targeted audience. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a link to a survey where you can tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll get in contact with you to help you out:

    • c

      Graph doesn’t make sense. Then I realized that it started arbitrarily at 40% instead of 0% — so you could see the real shape of the curve.

  • Starr Watson

    The results you posted for analyzing survey results…does this seven day period also stand for educational survey/doctoral studies? I am curious if you have information for doctoral students regarding surveys?
    Thank you!

    • This in interesting information. How do we in Ghana access this. Is it affordable?

  • Susan

    I have run a few surveys now with samples of 50 to 6000 respondents and I find that a 2 week run is enough with a reminder sent after the first 7 days. On one survey the responses I received on the day of the reminder email was double that of the original invitation email. One reminder is enough don’t be tempted to send two.

    I also find checking what an email title looks like in an typical inbox helps to grab peoples attention. Some email accounts inboxes may include varying amount of detail in the listings of emails.

    • Steve

      Well, it seems your figures back my figures. I sent a questionnaire out and most were back in by seven days with only a few laggards in the second week.

      The downside was that I received 26 respondents where I was hoping for 30.

  • Bloody marvellous.

    How can I onforward this to another who will be even MORE impressed ?

  • Jake

    C – I don’t think you know what arbitrarily means. Determining the scale of a chart is an important part of analyzing the data to examine the characteristics of interest. For example in this case, as you astutely point out, it is done to emphasize the shape of the curve. It is important to notice this because sometimes the scale is manipulated so that small differences look larger. However, arbitrarily means random or on a whim, and it is clearly not random or whimsical.

    • Thanks for these handy hints. Next time I send out a survey I shall wait at least four days, or a week, before checking the answers! One dynamic I have found is that women are more likely than men to answer surveys, or perhaps it is just the people I know … !

  • Carmel McDonald

    Thanks for this analysis. We usually leave a survey open for 10 days and find that after the first few days, we need to send reminders. If we send several reminders, there is a spike in responses on those days. Other days, responses just dribble in.

  • Tend to find you get the answers you need in the first 24-36 hours. After that it’s just late comers, but no real changes to the bulk data.


  • Anselmo A.Kapandila

    Thank you very very much for a nice survey and give us a room to make some suggestions.
    For me because I live in the district where electricity is not reliable and some time I have to travel 200 kms for e-check(TO AND FRO. I suggest to wait for a week because usually I travelling once a week for e -mail communication(when there is no electricity)

  • Rohit

    I’m having trouble with low response survey haas only 7 questions..however after sending a reminder mail, I was able to get the number of responses equivalent to the one I got in a week in just 2 days..but it seems to have hit a plateau again..due to the limted options in the free version, authenticity is hard to create..people think its a spam or something

  • Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Many thanks

    • Thanks, Sang! Our blog theme was custom made for us. We’re glad you like it. Good luck with yours 🙂

  • Jill Z

    Hi Liz, It was a one-time data pull for the blog post and we no longer have the data on the absolute number of responses. Response rates in general vary dramatically depending on survey length, question length, survey content, among many other factors. If you’re looking for ways to improve response rates to a SurveyMonkey survey, here’re two blog posts that might give you some ideas on how to optimize your survey:

  • Hajime Matsui

    This analysis is interesting and helpful in itself.
    I owe you very much.
    However, I think as follows. Suppose that the surveyer had made so-called “sampling-miss”, the response rate itself might decline and/or the collection of response might change in that it would take longer time periods.

    But I don’t mean that you SurveyMonkey is prone to make such a “sampling-miss”.

    • Hajime, Good point. There are many things to keep in mind when crafting your survey. Thanks for your comment.

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    • Hanna J

      Hi Oscar – Thanks for your kind words! They make Monkeys smile. Hope you have a great weekend!

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    • Hanna J

      Hi Pamula – Thanks for your comment and for visiting our blog! We’re sorry about slow load times. Have you tried clearing your cache and cookies? That might help speed it up some.

      We’ll continue to post the latest survey news, information, and ideas here, so check back in for the latest. Thanks, and happy survey making!

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  • P.Doucet

    Approximately how long does survey monkey allow the status to remain open on viewing responses for the free version? I received an e-mail after getting the first response that said, “1 New Response OPEN for 1 day.”

    • KTsurveymonkey

      Hi there!

      Your responses will remain on your until you delete them or delete a survey/question. So, aslong as the survey question is there, your responses will be there too!

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