A Reward For Response: Boosting Participants’ Interest With Survey Incentives

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's Feverpitched

Most of us get confused in choosing the right survey incentives for our increased response rate. If you ever intend to provide an incentive to your respondents, make sure that you choose the RIGHT one. A surveyor needs to be careful about the fine line between offering an incentive and bribing his participants.

Previously, we had provided you some effective ways to get higher survey response. We now provide you some useful tips to decide survey incentives for maximizing response rate without creating survey bias.

• Utilizing Resources Efficiently:

Utilizing Resources Efficiently

The challenging task in deciding the incentive is to create balance. Incentive should be high enough to stimulate interest, but low enough to avoid tainting the results. You need to know the art to utilize low incentives for getting right number of responses. The survey findings of Porter and Whitcomb in 2003 showed that more is NOT better; they divided the participants into 4 incentives groups. Participants were informed that if they responded to the survey, they would be entered into a draw for a $50, $100, $150, or $200 gift certificate to the online retailer Amazon.com. However, the results showed that increasing incentives did not escalate the response rates. This indicated that the incentive should be valuable enough to increase participants’ interest.

Docpies successfully increased their survey response rate by 326%; in an amount that is likely to fit your pocket. Astonished? Let’s share their experience with you:

An interesting experience:

Docpies used a $1.99 Redbox movie rental coupon code from txtMovies as a survey incentive. The aim was to highlight the changes in open, click and response rates. They witnessed a drastic increase in their click rate and response rate from 8.8% to 15.6% and from 2.2% to 11.5%, respectively. The increase in response rate was huge! The question left in everybody’s mind is “how did that happen?” Here is how:

  • Appeal: Everyone loves to watch a good movie. With the coupon code, respondents were able to choose their favorite movie
  • Convenience: Redbox locations is within reach to almost all the respondents
  • Distribution: It was easy to distribute the coupon code through text messages.

Amazed by the change in their general response rate? Let us help you out in making the right choice:

• Wise Decision – Choosing the RIGHT survey incentive!

The following points will help you make a sensible decision.

Providing Value to Your Audience

  • Providing value to your audience: Make sure the incentive you offer is valuable enough for your audience. For this, you need to know your audience well and the things that attract them. Do not use items that are of no interest to your potential survey participants. For instance, offering a baby lotion as an incentive will only attract women who have babies, and you might lose your target audience from participating.
  • The choice is yours

  • The choice is yours! Let respondents decide to opt for incentives: Provide your participants the flexibility to opt-out of the survey incentive. In some business-to-business surveys, employers do not permit their staff to receive monetary/ non-monetary gifts. Ensure that they have the right to reject the incentive, if they are not allowed. However, interested participants should provide the required contact information. This will help you send the incentives to those who opt-in.
  • Calculating the Total Cost

  • Calculating the total cost: Certain incentive items have hidden cost associated with them. For example, delivering a t-shirt may also incur shipping cost, make sure to include it. These costs should be calculated in a timely manner, particularly, for the worldwide surveys. Small businesses should consider a cost-effective incentive that can be delivered with convenience. Survey incentives for the international participants, especially, need to be chosen wisely to avoid additional costs. For example, American entrepreneurs should determine the cost associated with delivering the incentives to Asian participants. In such situations, it is appropriate to deliver incentives via text messages such as discount coupon code.

• Time is money: when to offer?

Time is Money

You can give an incentive to your respondents either at the beginning of the survey (pre-paid) or after the survey has been completed (post-paid). Several studies have, however, shown that pre-paid incentives are likely to have a substantial impact on response rates. For instance, Robert and Pamela (1996) in their study confined that prepaid cash incentives produce a statistically significant increase in survey response rate. It is believed that once the respondents have received the incentive they will be more delighted to participate in the survey.

There is a greater possibility that incentives will increase the response rate. But, you should first consider whether there is a need for an incentive at all. You might still notice offerings of incentives to capture attention of potential survey respondents. Moreover, some surveys have been completed successfully without any incentives. It is good to make the survey experience its own incentive for the participants. It is possible to develop interest and engage your audience by creating interesting surveys.

Nevertheless, if you decide to attract respondents through incentives, keep these tips into consideration. Have you ever offered a survey incentive before? It would be a pleasure to know what worked out best for you!

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.