Best Survey Practices: Respondent Engagement

Best Survey Practices: Respondent Engagement

Best Survey Practices: Respondent Engagement

In our last blog, I discussed some of the benefits of conducting mobile surveys as well as the positive effect they have on the overall response rate and accuracy of a research study.  There are many instances, however, in which online surveys are more practical for the targeted audience or subject matter.  Whether a survey is created for online users or mobile users, there are key elements that are often overlooked.  In this series of blog entries, I’ll be taking a more general look at the various tactics one can adopt to improve their surveys.  The first tactic I want to discuss is maximizing respondent engagement.

You’ve probably been told repeatedly to keep your surveys under 25 minutes.  At Precision Sample we still see surveys on the daily that are that length and longer!  To avoid unnecessarily lengthy surveys, look for places you can condense information or consider redefining your research objective to be more specific.  At the opposite extreme, keeping a survey under 5 minutes is one way to deal with falling response rates, but it’s typically not very practical.  We as an industry should be challenging ourselves to find better ways to maintain our respondent’s engagement.

Cut it down:


Go easy on the answer options!  Long attribute lists and enormous grids are asking for respondents to drop out of your survey. You run the risk of respondent apathy which is nearly impossible to clean out of your data file.

Maintain relevance:

phone load

Consider light use of icons or images only where they truly add to the interaction.  It will visually break up the survey but be wary of overload.  Too many images will slow down the survey load and in our instant gratification world it could be the survey’s downfall.

Empathize with the audience:


Before blasting survey invites to hundreds of respondents, it’s common practice to go through your survey to ensure that it’s fully functional.  What many companies fail to do, however, is put themselves in the place of the respondent as they are testing their surveys.  Very few people are likely to enjoy the topic of a survey more than the person who created it. So, if the creator of the survey finds it to be dull then it may be worth taking another look at.  Ask yourself–would you take your survey if it was on a different topic??

These are just a few practices that make for a positive survey-taking experience.  Let us know in the comments what you do to enhance survey engagement!

Director, Global Supply at Precision Sample | President, South Central Chapter of Insights Association | Board Member of the Master of Science in Marketing Research Program at Michigan State University


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