Response Rate (© Kittiphan /
Response Rate (© Kittiphan /

In marketing, response rate is a measurement that calculates the number of people who respond to a specific call to action. A response rate can provide useful information for marketers, allowing them to determine how effective their marketing efforts are. In this article, we offer a more detailed look at response rate, including how to calculate this measurement and why it is important for marketers to be aware of. When it comes to marketing, keeping track of your efforts is always important. It allows you to find out who you are reaching via your marketing strategies, if your efforts are successful, or if any changes need to be made. There are several ways marketers can keep track of their efforts, and response rate is just one way.

How to Calculate Response Rate

A response rate is calculated by dividing the number of recipients who responded to an offer by the total number of people who received the offer. Usually, this amount is presented as a percentage. The following is an example of how you would calculate the response rate of a survey that you sent out either via an email marketing campaign or a direct mail marketing campaign.  

  • Determine how many people responded to your survey. For instance, if you mailed out 400 surveys and of those surveys, 100 people may have complete it and returned it.
  • Find out how many people were asked to participate in the survey. In the case mentioned above, the total number of participants was 400.
  • Divide the amount of response by the total number of people who were asked to participate in the survey. In the example above, 100 people divided by 400 equals 25 percent.

Why It’s Important for Marketers to be Aware of Response Rates

Response rate has several applications in marketing, and those applications are dependent on the needs of the marketer. For example, the measurement could be based on:

  • The number of recipients who respond to a marketing survey
  • The number of people who filled out a contact form in order to ask for more information
  • The amount of people who supplied their contact information via a survey

A response rate can be used to measure any action that would require a response.

It might seem obvious to say, but marketers should always be actively seeking ways to encourage the recipients of their information to respond. Response rates that seem too low could lead to a sample bias that could alter results, therefore creating results that are not accurate. Marketers should try to eliminate any factors that could potentially elicit biased results.

What are Acceptable Response Rates?

It is important for marketers to understand that the industry standards for response rates are important to take into consideration. Response rates do vary and are based on the methodology used; however, they should fall into the following ranges in order to ensure that sample representations are accurate:

  • Online response rates: 30 percent
  • Direct mail response rates: 50 percent
  • Phone response rates: 80 percent
  • In-person response rates: 80 percent

Elements that can Impact Response Rates

There are several factors that can impact response rate results. It’s important to be aware of these factors and make any necessary adjustments in order to ensure you receive the most accurate responses.

  • Population of respondents. The simple fact is that some populations are more likely to respond to inquiries than other populations. Make sure you keep this in mind when calculating your response rate.
  • The invitation of the study. This is important, as you want to motivate and encourage people to participate in your survey and respond. You should also ensure that you establish reasonable and clear expectation regarding the requirements for completing the study. Response rates are based on completed surveys.
  • Topic of the survey. Certain topics are going to be more interesting to possible respondents than others. Moreover, some people may choose not to participate if the survey is too sensitive; it asks for information that is too personal, for example.
  • Design of the survey. Make sure your survey isn’t overly long, too complex, or use wording that is difficult to understand.


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