Time is money. If you waste your money you can always try to earn it back. However, once time is lost, it can never be regained.

Think about that when conducting your next survey. Survey data is instrumental in understanding and evaluating your brand, advancing strategic business decisions, and identifying improvements and processes that can help you achieve your business goals. Given the value of survey data, it’s tempting to ask lots of questions–including questions that your respondents may not be able to answer. When designing your survey, you must remember that your survey respondents’ time is as valuable as yours. How can you respect your respondents’ time while getting the information you need?

  • Create short, concise, purposeful surveys. Brainstorm the answers you want first as this will help you develop effective questions and avoid embedding questions that are irrelevant.
  • Be honest and upfront about the length. Being forthright about the duration of your survey increases the likelihood that respondents will complete the entirety of the questionnaire and not abandon it. Keep in mind that shorter surveys produce higher response and completion rates, which produces better data quality. Lengthy surveys lead to survey fatigue.
  • Explain why your survey is important and how the research participants’ opinions, feedback, and perceptions will enhance your data and improve your brand. Express appreciation for their participation, expertise, and viewpoints. Don’t forget to add a “thank you” at the end of your survey. For internal surveys, we also encourage our clients to share the research results with respondents as a way of thanking them for participating.
  • Consider inserting quality checks in longer surveys to ensure participants are paying attention. Adding humor as a quality check can lighten the mood and keep participants in the study engaged.

You are more likely to gain reliable and thoughtful feedback if you motivate, reward, and incentivize your respondents for taking the time to complete your survey. Incentives can encourage participation, boost retention, and improve response rates. Some popular incentives include:

  • Monetary incentives: cash, e-gift cards
  • Giveaways
  • Coupons or discounts
  • Free samples or free branded swag
  • Charitable donations 

Financial incentives may not be possible due to budget constraints, sample size (more respondents means more incentives to distribute), and legal or compliance issues. One way to engage your respondents without monetizing them is by displaying live or instant results upon completion of the survey such as “see how you compare to your peers.” This encourages and enables you to build relationships with your respondents and gives them a sense of ownership in the survey. 

 At LMD, we acknowledge and respect that our survey respondents’ time is a precious commodity by:

  • Establishing rigorous survey parameters that provide our respondents with fair and unbiased questions.
  • Ensuring respondents feel valued and appreciated for sharing their perspectives by incentivizing them fairly, when possible.
  • Making respondents feel like stakeholders in the survey and that their opinions matter.
  • Always remembering that time is money.

Need support with your next survey? We can help!

In her role as Senior Market Research Analyst, Jenn Dolin Olsen supports LMD by gathering, organizing, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting market-related information for client research projects. She also creates, implements, and analyzes surveys and conducts secondary research to identify and evaluate competitors, market trends, and market conditions or changes in the industry that may affect our clients’ businesses and strategic goals, and/or provide opportunities for ventures into new markets.

Dolin Olsen has been trained by The Burke Institute to moderate, man,age and analyze focus group and in-depth interview sessions. She has a B.S. from The College for Human Development and Psychology at Syracuse University and an MBA and MNO (Masters of Nonprofit Organizations) from Case Western Reserve University.