Survey Incentives: The Benefits of Sending Them and How to Make Them Work for You
Conducting surveys is an invaluable method for gathering insights and feedback from your target audience, giving a voice to the consumer and showing them that you value their thoughts. However, getting customers to meaningfully engage in surveys can be challenging even in high involvement, high passion categories. In today’s fast-paced and often cluttered landscape, people are bombarded with requests for their time and attention, making it crucial to find effective ways to encourage survey participation. One proven strategy is offering incentives.
Offering incentives can be tricky. There is a fine line between showing your customers you value their time and offering too much which can attract those who are only concerned with the reward. The amount of the incentive plays an even larger role in the world of panel sample where bots and bad actors are motivated to game the system in seeking these payouts. Today we’ll touch on some of the benefits of offering incentives and dive a little deeper into some best practices for getting them done right.
Pros outweigh the cons in the world of incentives
Despite certain drawbacks like increased project costs, past experience has shown us that incentives are worth it. Let’s explore the advantages in greater detail.
- Tangible Rewards for Time Invested: Time is a precious commodity, and people appreciate being rewarded for their efforts. Incentives show that you value and respect their time.
- Increased Engagement and Motivation: When respondents know there is something in it for them, they are more likely to be engaged throughout the survey. Higher engagement often translates to more thoughtful and detailed responses, leading to higher-quality data rich with actionable insights.
Combatting Survey Fatigue
In a world saturated with surveys and requests for feedback, many people suffer from survey fatigue. Survey takers can become overwhelmed or disinterested in taking part in surveys due to the repetitive and time-consuming nature of the process. Survey incentives can help mitigate survey fatigue – here are two key factors that help do this:
- Enhancing Perceived Survey Value: Incentives elevate the perceived value of the survey. Participants may interpret the offered reward as a sign that the survey’s results will be genuinely used to improve products, services, or experiences they use, purchase, or engage with.
- Creating Positive Brand Association: The act of offering incentives can contribute to positive brand association. Customers appreciate companies that demonstrate appreciation for their opinions and go the extra mile to gather feedback. This fosters a sense of trust and loyalty, strengthening the relationship between customers and the brand.
What incentive works best and is there a right way to administer them?
There is no perfect amount or value for a survey incentive and the sweet spot can vary by client and audience type. The budget for your survey project, how you will provide the incentive, and the target population of your survey are all factors that should be considered when determining what type and amount of incentive to offer.
In our experience, respondents prefer cash/checks as well as digital gift cards over discounts or sweepstakes. However, it is important to note that checks and digital gift cards cannot always be used interchangeably. One key decision factor should be the age and level of computer savviness your target demographic has. Offering e-gift cards with multi-step activations may not be ideal for a study among elderly customers nor is sending checks to a group of folks unlikely to have their own bank accounts. Be mindful of the life stages of your audience and choose accordingly when planning your incentives. While it may add to incentive management time, offering a choice is a great way to make sure every respondent can access a type of incentive that works for them.
Gift cards are a smart choice when possible. The landscape of e-gift cards has really changed over the years, affording respondents easy access to choosing a gift card of their choice to a store or restaurant that is meaningful and valuable to them which has been proven to lead to higher response rates.
Delivery of Incentives
Once you determine the type of incentive, you want to ensure that your customers receive the incentive in a timely fashion and can redeem it easily. Fast delivery and clear instructions are the key to a smooth incentive experience.
Speedy delivery: Timely delivery of incentives is key to overall project success as consumers have been conditioned to receive things quickly in our highly digital world. The sooner you can deliver the incentive to their inbox, the more legitimate and trustworthy you appear. As a result, your respondents are more likely to be willing to participate again. Providing speedy incentives also helps the team in efficiently addressing participant inquiries regarding the status of their rewards. This not only reduces the workload but also ensures prompt and satisfactory responses.
Additionally, it is essential to provide clear and comprehensive information to ensure a positive experience. In addition to the basics such as incentive type and value, we suggest you include the following to ensure a frustration-free experience for your customers:
- Who Will the Sender Be: Make sure the respondent knows who to expect an email or letter in the mail from so it does not get discarded as trash. Often times we work with external suppliers to send the incentives and it can cause respondent frustration if they don’t know how to locate the incentive or who the sender is. Remind them to also check their junk mail in case 3rd party emails get filtered out.
- Redemption Instructions: Provide clear instructions on how customers can redeem or use the incentive. If it’s a discount code, specify where and how to apply it during the purchase process. If it’s a gift card, mention the website or store where it can be used.
- Thank-You Message: Express gratitude for their participation in the survey and acknowledge the importance of their feedback in shaping your products or services.
- Contact Information: Provide contact details (email or phone number) in case customers encounter any issues or have questions about the incentive. This shows them that you’ll continue to support them even after their participation is complete.
- Visual Elements: Use clear and visually appealing graphics or branding elements to reinforce the legitimacy and recognition of your incentive.
The Bottom Line
As the cost of nearly everything rises, you may be tempted to cut incentives to keep the cost of research down. From our experience, this is definitely not where we’d suggest cutting corners on your next project. We’ve learned that the key to cutting through the clutter and motivating consumers to share their insights is making them feel valued for their time. The payoff, if managed correctly, is rich insights from motivated consumers and at the end of the day, that’s always our main research goal.
Written by Julie Gagnon, Director, Program Management and Megan Donnelly, Director, Program Management.