Keeping Respondents Engaged, No Matter LOI

The long (not short) of it.

We know the pitfalls of long surveys. But sometimes a client wants what a client wants. As sample providers we have absolutely no say in the design process. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a bang-up job on the parts of the process we can control.

  • Let’s prep our survey takers. Birthday parties aside, people do not like surprises. Defining our expectations for our respondents up front – how much time they’ll spend, how much of an incentive they’ll earn, how much is at stake should they key in sloppy, inaccurate, fraudulent answers (even requiring their agreement on this criteria!) is the fast track to better feedback and survey completion.
  • Provide the right incentive. Yeah, we know it’s tempting to sacrifice quality for profits, but using average minimum wage as a guide says, “We respect your time! We want your thoughtful answers! We want you to come back!” Even better? It reduces panelist fatigue.
  • Ask questions that will be used. It may feel like a “Well, duh.” But it’s really easy to become wedded to questions that illicit feedback that will never incite action. So tighten that survey and reap the data rewards.

Call to Arms!

We’re not afraid to say it. It’s time to uniform census demographic screen questions. Think about it: There are simply too many ways to ask someone’s age or income or occupation. And when the client’s and the provider’s don’t match, there’s lots of hoop-jumping (read: repetitive questions) for participants. Imagine a world where the up-front census questions needed for quotas were eliminated. That’s how we use technology, people!

A little attention eliminates a lot of fraud.

Fraud. Fraud. Fraud. We talk about it incessantly. But fraud isn’t a given. It’s actually the end-result of an unprepared respondent. Create “attention questions” to prepare survey members. Thoughtfully crafted screeners are proven effective at getting participants into the right mindset – one where they’re ready and willing to provide the thoughtful, mindful answers your clients crave.

If you can’t beat ‘em, try like heck to make it better.

We could try fighting for shorter LOIs, but it’d be a losing battle – there will always be a justification for one, or ten, more questions. The issue is how to safeguard these longer-format surveys against their typical results: poorer response rates, lower data quality and increased drop-off rates.

Our solution? Personalization. Ownership. Creating an environment where participants want to provide accurate opinions because the research results mean something to them.

  • Add designated survey breaks. “Congrats! You’re halfway done!” “Whoo-hoo! Only three more questions to go!”
  • Break questionnaires into sections. And remember the intros. Set expectations of what each section is meant to accomplish and explain why thoughtful feedback is important – it can affect the actual products and services they use!
  • Incorporate visuals. Who doesn’t love a visual? Especially at your newly designated survey breaks.
  • Display live aggregated survey data. It’s live. It’s aggregated. And it allows your respondents to get closer to your research so they can compare themselves to others. #AddedIncentive
  • Create delayed survey continue buttons. Explain in your new intros that the “continue” button will be hidden for 20 seconds on each question to encourage reading and honest participation. Using technology to slow ‘em down ensures that your participants aren’t speeding through the survey.