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Does Revealing a Survey Sponsor Hurt a Typical Survey Response Rate?

When starting your qualitative or quantitative market research, you always want to collect enough responses to ensure high quality results.  The typical survey response rate is influenced by many factors, but a one major one is whether or not you decide to disclose your survey sponsor to the respondents. Depending on the situation, it could affect response rates positively, or negatively.

Typical Survey Response Rate


Positive effects of showing the sponsor to respondents could be an increased number of willing respondents, or better interest in providing quality responses when the sponsor is a well-known brand or associated with powerful individuals.

On the other hand, a new sponsor to the market or a sponsor with bad publicity might result in lower response rates. Respondents could not participate willingly, or accuracy of results may be affected due to biased opinions.

Here are some points to consider when deciding whether or not your sponsor should see the light:

  • Know why you are doing the research: The first factor in deciding whether to reveal the survey sponsor is the research purpose and methodology itself. For example, you are not going to reveal the sponsor for an awareness study up front and you are going to reveal the sponsor for customer satisfaction research. Often we have a default preference based on outside factors.
  • Know your audience: Sounds like a market research cliché, but yes, you have to closely study the psychographics of your respondents to predict how they will respond if they know the sponsor. For example, you do not want to expose a client who owns amongst several businesses a burger chain, when your respondents are vegans.
  • Know the current situation: External factors need to be put in consideration as well. Trends, ethics, politics and even natural disasters all have their impact on responses. Make sure you are up to date on respondents’ stances on such topics, while monitoring hot topics that might interest them at the moment. You do not want to expose a sponsor who was recently involved in controversial matters.
  • Know your client: Before disclosing your client, you must know his brand’s strong points and weak points very well and keep them in consideration while designing the survey. More often than not, respondents’ perception about a brand will improve when they receive a survey from that brand. Keeping these points in mind, you will be able to decide whether exposing the sponsor would result in a boost in response rates or on the contrary, be a setback to response rates.

As with so many things, the answer ultimately comes down to “it depends.” The key is to do your homework ahead of time so you know can make an educated decision.

Survey Design Best Practices and Screening Question Template


Topics: survey design , qualitative market research , online surveys

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