This is a guest post from one of our SurveyMonkey Technology Ecosystem Program (STEP) partners, XOXOday. The author is Ganesh Ram, Product Marketing Manager.
Survey panel incentives are crucial if you are conducting market research. Rewards can boost response rates, enticing up to 50% of the non-respondents to participate , helping you reach difficult audiences. They can also help build meaningful relationships with prospects and customers.
But, there is a caveat: offering survey rewards to everybody would affect your data quality.
To set yourself up for conducting a successful survey, consider these five tips on survey rewarding:
Tip #1: Spend time to find your target audience:
While survey rewards can increase your fill rate, they can affect the quality of your survey if not utilized correctly. If you’re not careful, your incentive can attract the opinions of the wrong population (or group of respondents).
Survey respondents who are in it only for gifts would hurry through your survey instead of providing thoughtful responses, which is why you should research to see if your survey audience fits your target demographic and add value to your survey.
This doesn’t mean incentives are not the way to go, however. On the contrary, survey incentives increase your data set and build the value of feedback in the consumers’ minds.
Rotate your panelists and bring in more focus groups instead of sticking to the same audience. The goal here is to ensure a fresh set of eyes can examine panel surveys.
Tip #2: Not everyone needs a “reward”:
If you are conducting a market research survey amongst board executives or professors, it doesn’t make sense to donate a $10 gift card to compensate for their time.
You can strike a chord with your customers via donations to a charity of choice with indirect rewards. This way, they will avoid rushing through the survey and help make a positive impact on the community.
Tip #3: Start slow
When it comes to the best practices of incentivized surveys, it is essential to note that you have to start slow and conservative and raise the stakes when you start getting responses.
Most market research surveys happen in several stages, and every following phase comes with a bigger reward. By distributing rewards in a slow-phased manner, you can ensure the completion of market research by reducing drop-off rates mid-survey. This also ensures your respondents are satisfied after the completion of the survey.
Tip #4: Communicate your expectations clearly
Ambiguity is a deal-breaker when it comes to interacting with your survey panelists. Communicate your expectations clearly and briefly in detail about point-redemption walkthroughs and survey completion guides regularly. This way, your panelists aren’t lost midway, especially during a multi-phased survey.
Automate your survey panel incentives so that you can focus on your core responsibilities. After all, what matters is the users’ opinion, not what they get in return.
Tip #5: Choose a reward system that works
Three central reward systems are typically used in survey panels:
Point-based programs incentivize participants over time and help them accumulate enough to redeem rewards from a catalog. The main benefit of this system is that panel members can control their ability to earn a bonus, and it can be made more complex by the surveyor.
This type of reward system makes it hard to estimate budgeting since you don’t know the number of respondents who will complete the survey.
A digital gift card reward system can help you share digital gift cards on completion of a survey. With this system, respondents can choose gift cards they like from a catalog.
On the other hand, a sweepstakes reward system provides a set number of rewards tied to participation in one survey or a random drawing during a period. Thus, the respondents have a small chance of bagging a massive reward.
This type of reward distribution sometimes requires the help of a legal team. They typically drive lower response rates than the former because panelists know they have a low probability of receiving a reward (even though it’s bigger).
Xoxoday Plum Rewards can help you build an effective digital rewards program, if you'd like to start testing these tips yourself.