Offering survey rewards has been proven to increase response rates, but what if you need more than just multiple-choice answers? When your surveys get more in-depth, you’re more likely to get incomplete responses or “speeders,” who rush through and offer poor-quality responses just to get their rewards. That compromises both the accuracy of your data and your budget, since you’re rewarding responses that don’t help you achieve your goals.
Survey rewards are not one-size-fits-all. The $5 Starbucks gift card or $10 Amazon reward will likely work for your short, simple customer service survey, but it won’t be enough for every program. Here are some tips to tailor your rewards when you need in-depth feedback.
The biggest way to make sure your survey rewards are appropriate is to consider the time and effort it requires from participants. A lengthy survey with many open-ended questions can be time-consuming and takes more thought than simply choosing ratings on a scale of 1 to 5. However, sometimes that’s the only way to get the feedback you need.
To offer worthwhile survey rewards, consider how much time your questionnaire will take to complete — and make sure to be honest and realistic. Many researchers tend to underestimate the time needed, which leads to insufficient rewards and incomplete responses. Also consider the value of the respondents’ time and how difficult it is to find your target audience. If you need a very specific demographic or group of respondents, the reward should increase. Try this simple formula to help you set the right value for your incentive.
Instead of distributing one long, complex survey, you may get better participation if you split it into multiple touchpoints. Shorter questionnaires typically have better response rates, with Survey Anyplace reporting a 17% drop for surveys that have more than 12 questions or take longer than five minutes. By using several short surveys, you can still get the in-depth feedback you need.
Depending on your incentives budget, though, sending that many survey rewards may not be an option. Instead, set up a points-to-rewards program, where participants earn a certain number of points for each survey they complete. Once they hit a certain points threshold, they then receive their reward.
Even if you use the right rewards, surveys may not be the best way to collect the data you’re looking for. Incentives are also a good way to increase participation in focus groups, research panels, and in-depth interviews. These tactics can yield much more thorough and detailed feedback, but make sure the reward value is appropriate — taking part in an in-person focus group requires a much bigger commitment from participants than a survey. Whatever the design of your program, survey rewards and research incentives will help you ensure success.
Looking for more tips on increasing your survey response rates? Download our Survey Optimization Checklist!