One of the most effective ways to increase survey participation is through incentives and rewards. But, when incentives and rewards are not utilized in the right way they can cause havoc with your survey results.
First and foremost, you want to offer an incentive…not a bribe. Think of your incentive as a form of thank you or encouragement rather than a coercion. You do not want people to want to answer your questions just for the freebie or gift. As a thank you, you are less likely to gather influenced or ingenuous results.
The size of your incentive should be big enough to generate interest but, at the same time, not influence or manipulate the answers of your survey. Incentives don’t need to be large to increase response rates. A small token can increase responses considerably.
Things to consider with your incentives/rewards:
– What can you offer? Your incentive could be a physical object, entry into a draw, bonus, free trial of service, extra points on account, vouchers. Whatever it is, make sure it is something you can follow through on.
– What is your budget? Bear in mind the additional cost of postage, how big a discount you can offer, total price of purchasing gift cards etc.
– Does it have a wide appeal? If your incentive is too niche it may deter potential respondents. Your incentive should be desirable to wide and general population.
– Is it easily deliverable? You may need to be able to distribute your incentive to a wide number of people without going over budget or spending too much time
– When will you offer it? Are you going to offer give your incentive at the beginning of your survey, or at the end on completion?
If you are conducting an anonymous survey, you must be able to deliver your incentive or reward without taking contact details. A good way to do this is to keep incentives to a digital format that you can include in the thank you page of your survey.
Anyone who completes your survey can claim their incentive without you needing to deliver anything manually. This works well if you are offering a money off your own service or products, where you can include a discount code on your thank you page that respondents can apply at the checkout when purchasing from you.
Examples of when surveys benefit from incentives:
• If you need to reach a wide scope of respondents
• If you have a longer survey you want people to answer
• If your questions are fairly in-depth or challenging
Make sure your incentive does not contradict your company values or survey topic. As an extreme example, a survey conducted by a weight-loss organization would not do well to offer Dunkin’ Doughnuts vouchers as an incentive.
The most important thing to remember when offering an incentive is to make sure that it is aligned with the audience and survey topic. And whilst it is beneficial to bear in mind the potential risks of bias when offering incentive, if you implement a survey reward with care and attention, it can be one of the most effective methods to increase your response rates.