Why people are not responding to your survey.

Low response rates, or no responses, is an issue facing many surveyors. High response rates are important to get value out of your DEI surveys.

Surveyors have tried and tested a variety of methods to increase responses to surveys. I myself have received surveys in the mail with a toonie attached to it, to which I gladly took for coffee and returned to sender filled in. 

As surveyors we manipulate survey style, packaging and messaging to increase response rates, but incentivisation has proved the most effective method to entice responses. Not all incentive options are the same, you want to offer the best incentive for your target audience, and survey goals. We outlined three of the most popular incentive types and when you should use them! 

Monetary Incentives

Monetary incentives are awards of a predetermined dollar value like a cash prize or gift card. Monetary incentives often increase response numbers, but have been linked largely to increasing response turnaround, making them more attractive for time-sensitive surveys. 

Most personality types have some level of motivation associated with monetary incentives, which make them a good option when you don’t know the personalities of your audience or are designing an open survey.  

When to use:

  • Response time is important to you
  • Response volume is important to you
  • You have a high budget, or practices in place to target your respondents to ensure a return
  • Respondents are driven by monetary benefits 
  • You don’t have the following to support a social incentive 
  • You have a closed survey accessible by a password to manage responses, or are organizing an open survey
  • You have respondents with varying personalities and from different communities 
Mug filled with with text overlay "Take our end of year survey and receive an awesome mug. Coffee not included, but encouraged"

Material incentives 

Material incentives are awards of a predetermined product or service. These awards can be of low value as a pen or t-shirt, to as high as an electronic or one of a kind momento. 

Lower value material incentives are often awarded to all respondents, while higher value are reserved for lottery. In our research, we have found material incentives increase response rates for low to medium income respondents, but do not have the same effect for higher income respondents. To navigate this, some organizations have opted for limited edition or sentimental material incentives like a piece of art, or experience that might have a lower cost, but be valued higher across income brackets. 

When to use:

  • Response time is not important to you
  • Response volume is not important to you
  • You have administrative capacity to organize material delivery 
  • You know your respondents well enough to choose a material incentive 
  • You have access to a high monetary value, or high social value item or service

Social Incentives

Social incentives are awards that satisfy social emotional needs. Often these awards include some sort of public recognition examples are: social-media shout out, blog profile, award, or promotion. Social incentives can be great for respondents that might not respond well to monetary offerings. Social incentives tend to work well when respondents are a part of the same social circle for example a group of customers, employees or students, in these cases, the respondent knows the audience that will know of their award. 

When to use:

  • Response time is not important to you
  • You have administrative capacity to organize material delivery 
  • You have a large enough following, or close-knit community to make the social incentive of value 
  • Your respondents are extroverted, social and value exclusive offers

There are varying options to review when deciding how to incentivize respondents. To ensure a return on your incentive investment, it is important to research your respondents, what motivates them, and what they like.

Whenever you offer incentives, it is incredibly important to follow through, maintaining the trust of your respondents can help secure responses for your next survey and extend the return of your incentive past one response. 

Want  to chat incentives and how we’ve helped organizations choose the best one for their target group? Schedule a meeting with one of our experts. 

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