The amount of time it takes to complete a survey can have a huge impact on your survey response rate. The more questions your survey has, the more likely it is that people will drop-out or not respond at all.
So, you’re likely to collect more responses if you ask less survey questions.
But survey length isn’t the only thing that impacts response and completion rates, they’re also affected by relevance. The more relevant your questions are, the less likely your respondents will drop-out.
In this article, we’ll answer “how many questions should a survey have?” along with some other frequently asked questions.
How many questions should a survey have?
This is a question that often comes up when designing or conducting a survey. There’s no universal answer, as the number of survey questions will vary based on your goals and target audience.
Generally speaking, surveys should include the minimum number of questions needed to achieve your goals.
If you want our opinion, between 10 and 30 questions is the sweet spot for most surveys. However, we’d highly recommend splitting these questions up onto separate pages to avoid overwhelming respondents.
How to write the perfect number of questions
For a more accurate number, you must first understand the purpose of a survey. Understanding this allows you to set specific goals (what data is essential), which you’ll use to write survey questions.
For instance, the aim of a customer satisfaction survey is to gauge how happy your customers are. All the questions you ask should help you learn what you’re doing right and where there are areas for improvement. Any questions that collect data outside these parameters are likely to increase dropouts.
To identify how many questions a survey should have, ask yourself what data you need, and what would just be nice to have.
Put the nice to have questions on the back burner for now. Focus on what you need to maximize your response rates.
How many survey questions per page?
When using online survey software, it’s common that responses are only saved when a respondent goes to the next page or when they finish the survey.
This means that if you have a lot of questions on one survey page and respondents drop out part-way through, you will lose all answers up until that point.
To work around this quirk, we’d recommend splitting your survey questions onto multiple pages. This not only ensures that responses are being saved periodically but also makes your survey appear more digestible to respondents.
If they see all of your questions on one page, they’re more likely to suffer from survey fatigue (which is likely to increase your dropout rate).
There’s no standard for how many questions you should have per page, the most logical way to break them up would be based on how they relate to each other.
For example, if you’re running an employee satisfaction survey you could break up your questions into these sections (pages):
- Page 1: Workplace culture
- Page 2: Job role
- Page 3: Coworkers
- Page 4: Management
- Page 5: Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
- Exit/ thank you page
In general, you’re able to ask more questions in these types of surveys. Respondents who’re invested in a survey are less likely to experience survey fatigue, as they genuinely want to share their feedback.
How long should a survey take to complete?
As above, this answer depends on the specific purpose of the survey and your target population. Generally speaking, however, surveys should be completed within a reasonable timeframe – usually within 10 minutes.
For some additional perspective, on average, 15 to 20 survey questions will take 3 to 5 minutes to complete. So, your survey should have no more than 40 questions to ensure respondents stay engaged.
Survey length and the number of questions you ask don’t always correlate, the amount of time it takes to answer questions depends on how complicated they are.
If you’re asking more than one thing in the same space, or the question requires critical thought, it will take longer to answer. This is something you have to take into consideration when writing survey questions.
A great example of this is found the difference between closed-ended questions and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions require survey respondents to choose an answer from a pre-set list, which can be very quick and efficient.
Open-ended questions ask respondents to write a free-form answer, which requires them to put in more thought and can take a lot longer to respond to.
What type of data is collected by survey questions?
That leads us nicely to the kinds of data that you intend to collect for your survey. If you’re conducting statistical research, you’ll mostly write close-ended questions which are attuned to collecting quantitative data.
Whereas if you’re collecting opinions and experiences, you’re more likely to use open-ended questions to collect qualitative data.
In a lot of cases, you’ll be using open and closed questions in tandem. The qualitative data allows you to infer why respondents selected certain answers,
But how does this factor into how many questions a survey should have?
Well, as we’ve discussed open-ended questions take longer for respondents to answer. So, the more open questions your survey contains the fewer questions you should ask overall.
How do I know how long my survey takes?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, you’ll need to do a test run of the survey. And we’d recommend you don’t do this yourself, as you’ll be able to anticipate each question and respond in a quicker time.
Send a test version of your survey to some friends or colleagues and ask them to carefully consider each question as a respondent would.
Tally up the time it took for each of them and divide it by the number of participants to find the average time it would take to complete your survey.
How to increase survey completion rates
Everything we’ve covered so far will help you to increase your survey completion rate. But, here are a few extra tips to help motivate respondents to reach the end of your survey:
Use lead magnets: Create lead magnets (such as a free tool or premium content) and give access to these upon completion of your survey.
Offer an incentive: Offer a monetary incentive or some form of promotion to respondents who complete your survey.
Improve your survey design: Ensure the visual design of your survey is up to scratch to keep respondents interested.
Use interactive question types: Using the same survey question types over and over again can be boring for respondents. Switching to more interactive types like sliders and scales can make surveys feel less stale.
If your completion rates are high but you’re struggling to collect the data you need, take a look at these tips for increasing survey response rates.
So, how many questions should a survey have? Based on these findings, we recommend that you have a maximum of 40 questions when conducting online surveys. This will help ensure that respondents finish the survey and provide you with accurate results in a reasonable time.
Our best tip is to create separate survey pages and split your questions into topics across those pages. It’s important to keep in mind that the more pages a survey has, the longer it will take to complete and the more likely it is that respondents will drop out.
We’d recommend including a progress bar, so respondents have a visual representation of how many pages they have left. This can go a long way in keeping them motivated and engaged.