One of the first things that many businesses discover — and often the last thing they discover before they decide to outsource their market research to an agency — is that generating a sufficient number of market research survey responses is much, much harder than they expected.
Indeed, from a distance, the process almost sounds automatic: put together a good survey, identify people who should take it, get their approval to participate, and wait for the responses to roll in. What could go wrong?
Well, if surveys were being sent out to computers then it wouldn’t be a problem. But survey respondents aren’t computers: they’re current and prospective customers, or they might be industry insiders and influencers. The fact that they agreed to participate once upon a time is by no means an iron clad guarantee, or even a good old fashioned “my word is my bond” commitment. People get busy and distracted. They also have good moods and bad moods. Catch them on the right week, and market research survey responses might be high. Catch them on the wrong week, and you might hear crickets and see tumbleweeds.
Of course, “hoping for the best” is not strategic — or necessary. Businesses must lean forward and proactively implement tactics and methods to improve market research survey responses. Here are 5 proven ways to make this happen:
- Provide people with a clear, compelling reason why they should participate and respond. Just as brands and products have a core value proposition, each survey must as well.
- Be transparent and honest about how the information will be used. This information should be conveyed before the survey is sent out (i.e. in an email or phone call), and then summarized in the introduction of the survey as a reminder.
- Keep questions short and simple. This is easier said than done with some types of questions, but is nevertheless essential. Often, respondents will emotionally “feel” that a question is complex after just a glance, and will therefore skip it. If they do this too frequently, then they are likely to think one of two things: either “I’ve just skipped a bunch of questions and if I go back this survey is going to take way too long to fill out” or “these questions are confusing and I’m getting frustrated, and that’s my cue to exit.”
- Aim to deliver surveys at a time when people are most likely to be willing and interested in responding. For example, sending out a survey on Monday morning is typically not a good idea, because people are dealing with a backlog of work that probably started piling up the previous Friday.
- Use the right incentive, which is one that is both appropriate for the target audience, and of course, effective and compelling. For example, offering gift certificates or cash may be suitable for retail B2C surveys, but not for industrial B2B surveys. In the latter case, offering respondents exclusive, discounted or early bird access to a report based on the survey data might be suitable and effective.
The Bottom Line
There is no template way to maximize market research survey responses — because every business, survey and respondent pool is different, and these specific variables must be taken into consideration. Yet with this being said, the above tips can help significantly, and in some cases dramatically, reduce attrition and increase participation, which is critical to market research success and ROI.
If you are struggling with low market research survey responses, or you are (wisely) concerned about wasting money and time by sending out a survey that does not provide you with the reliable data you need to make smarter and faster decisions, don’t worry! Download our FREE eBook “The Insider’s Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys” to discover best practices for effectively setting up and executing market research online surveys: