Survey incentives can help to achieve the target response rate for a survey. It’s vital to give the survey audience good motivation for doing the survey. People have busy lives, so sometimes you will need to do something extra to motivate them in order to get their valuable feedback.
That’s where the survey incentive comes in. The trick is to identify an incentive that speaks to the interests of your audience. The cost of providing an incentive can quickly add up, but by carefully selecting the right one, you can protect both your budget and the quality of your responses. The incentive doesn’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) be anything of great monetary value. Just make sure it’s relevant to your audience’s lives, and piques their interest just enough to give you the feedback you’re after.
Some things to keep in mind include:
How your respondents will receive their incentive
- Who will be rewarded. E.g. everyone who completes the surveyt or will run a lottery to find the winner?
Incentives aren’t always necessary
If you’re issuing a survey to a “captive” audience like for employee surveys or to follow up on a transaction, or are just asking a few questions, you may want to pass on offering an incentive.
But for surveys that are time-intensive, or the respondents have an emotional bond with your company, offering an incentive is a good practice. When people believe their input will make a difference in the future of your product or service, they are more likely to take time to complete a survey.
Share some of your results if appropriate
A simple way to encourage people is to offer respondents the opportunity to see survey results. Or, if they are going to be made public, the opportunity to see them before everyone else.
Very often, concerns about survey data giving you a competitive advantage are assumed and unfounded. In fact, many companies – including the largest consulting companies in the world – retain advantage because they share the results of their surveys.
Know (and stick to) your budget with survey incentives
Having a defined budget is fundamental to your success. Know your financial limits, and stick to an incentive that stays within those parameters.
If you offer a gift card to the first 300 respondents, make sure that nobody after the first 300 responses will see that offer. Or, put a cap on the survey so that only 300 responses can be collected. This guarantees you won’t run into any issues in terms of the number of gift cards you can offer versus the number of respondents.
It’s critical that you keep your promise of your incentive, or you risk alienating your audience.
Decide how survey incentives will be allocated
When deciding on who qualifies for an incentive, there are several options: e.g. reward everyone, enter everyone into a lottery or possibly make a donation (e.g. to a charity) based on the completion rates. This decision can have a significant financial impact. Surveys with a guaranteed incentive for every respondent will include a nominal gift, whereas lottery style incentives often have a much higher value.
One lottery incentive that is really common is a draw for a free piece of technology. Giving people the chance to win a gadget like this usually gets higher response rates because there is a high perceived value of the prize.
Sending the right message about incentives is crucial. If you decide to run a lottery, set clear expectations from the start that simply completing the survey won’t get you an iPad: That they have a chance, not a guarantee.
If you aren’t sure whether your message is clear enough, test it on a few people before you send it.
Survey incentives need to match your audience’s interests
Make sure that your incentive meets the needs (and desires) of your audience. Take the time to understand what interests and motivates your target group. And then, pick an incentive that they’ll truly appreciate.
Rewards do not necessarily need to be financial. A reward could include sharing the results.
Cash rewards have been shown to generate the best response rates, but this system can also be costly, especially for digital surveys.
Offering gift cards is a more cost-effective solution. The other benefit is that if you are offering an online survey, gift cards can often be redeemed online.
Ease of delivery
One of the most important things in choosing an incentive is to make them easy to send or receive.
As mentioned above, offering online gift cards and coupons makes for easy delivery, and only requires an email address or phone number. You can send them by email, or even by SMS.
Because you don’t have to post them, respondents can get their gift immediately after completing the survey.
If you do need to post them, make sure that you tell recipients when they have been sent. It’s good customer service, and keeps your recipients from worrying that maybe they won’t be sent.
Decide when you will release the incentive
Make a decision about when you will send the incentive to the respondent. While it seems logical that you should only send a reward after a survey has been completed, some studies suggest otherwise. Sometimes respondents feel obliged to complete the survey after receiving the incentive. Guilt can be a powerful thing!
Prevent duplicate and fake entries
If you’ve found the perfect survey incentive, there is a real chance that people will want to get it more than once! It also means that you might get people who aren’t truly interested in your product or service wanting the incentive too. So, you will need to consider strategies to disqualify people seeking to capitalise on the rewards.
Donate to charity
If your target participants include professionals, then offering to donate to charity on their behalf can be very effective. It can also be extremely effective if your target audience has a shared vision, cause, or mission.
For example, if you need to survey the parents of children in your primary school, offering to donate a certain amount to a children’s hospital might be a great incentive. This is because the cause (helping sick children) is something that resonates with every parent.
Reminding people about your survey is really important. Everyone is busy, and non-critical requests fall to the bottom of the list unless you send a reminder.
In fact, when you don’t send reminders, you may get as few as a third of the number of responses! Keep in mind, though, that the reverse can be true: Too many reminders can be as detrimental as none at all. So, carefully crafting your communications is essential. How many survey reminders you send will depend on your survey goals and also the nature of your audience. For an employee survey, organisations usually expect their staff to respond so mor reminders, and urgent reminders, will be warranted.
Contact Spark Chart if you need help to make sure your survey project is a success. Or sign up for the Spark Chart survey software to make the process easy. Here is a summary of Spark Chart survey software features.