It can be hard for people to believe, but lots of folks really do enjoy participating in online surveys and other types of research.
For some, it’s just that they enjoy being asked for their opinion. It makes them feel helpful and valued.
For others, it’s that they have a genuine interest in giving companies they care about feedback that will improve their products, services or customer experience.
And, of course, incentives provide an additional reason for our target respondents to participate.
There are a few things you can do to help ensure that your target respondents are interested in participating in your survey research. Ultimately they all come down to respecting your respondents and treating them well.
- Send the survey invitation from a person or organization they know. If you’re doing a customer survey, make sure YOU send out your invitation instead of having it come from a research firm they’ve never heard of. If you’re including prospective customers, consider partnering with another organization that would be willing to send invitations to their customers, members, etc. on your behalf or use a trusted panel provider.
- Make participation relevant to them. It helps a lot to tell people why they should bother spending even a few minutes of their busy day to complete your survey. How will the information be used? Will it impact the products they use, or make their experience with your organization better? Will their feedback be used to develop something new and interesting? Be upfront and tell them why you’re conducting the research and how the results will be used to impact them.
- Make your survey respondent-friendly. That means ensuring that you’re using best practices when you write and format your questions and try to limit respondent fatigue as best you can. Use survey logic to ensure that you’re not showing respondents questions that aren’t relevant to them based on their earlier answers. Don’t ask the same thing four different times, and don’t require them to fill out long, sensitive questions in textboxes one after another. You also need to make sure that your survey is mobile-friendly — 50% or more of our surveys are now taken on mobile devices in many cases, and questions that may work well on a computer screen may be completely unworkable on a mobile phone.
- Provide a relevant incentive. This shows them that you respect the time and effort they’re making to help you out. If you want non-customers in your study, don’t use a discount on your services as an incentive — they may have no interest in buying from you.
- Most of all, be honest. If your survey will take 15 minutes to complete, don’t tell them in will only take a few in an effort to “bait and switch” — you’ll not only lose respondents once they figure it out, but they’ll be angry that you tried to take advantage of them. Be transparent about how the information they provide will be used — if you tell them the survey is anonymous, don’t use their answers to add them to a prospect list or other marketing activity. If you’re going to use the information to better understand them as individual customers or prospects, tell them that at the beginning of the survey. If you tell them you won’t share their information, DON’T.
Following these simple guidelines can dramatically improve the participating in your studies and the quality of your data.