Response rates to online surveys can be radically improved by changes to questionnaire structure, innovative question mechanics, the use of visuals and animation and the deployment of imaginative techniques, such as role play, according to a new study.
Unless brands engage with consumers much more effectively, they risk alienating respondents and basing decisions on poor quality research data, findings reveal.
By enhancing the way in which online surveys are carried out, Engage Research and Global Market Insite, Inc (Gmi) discovered completion rates can be improved by more than 20%, together with significant growth in data quality and volume.
By grabbing the attention of a respondent from the start of the survey with an animated introduction, for instance, consumers will spend up to 80% more time answering follow-up questions.
Employing a range of role play techniques to motivate respondents was found to increase evaluation time by 70%, double the word count of responses and significantly increase the number and quality of ideas and suggestions.
Asking consumers to evaluate the impact of advertising from the perspective of someone working for an advertising agency, or placing themselves in the role of a boss of a company launching a new product, were just two examples of effective role play.
By showing respondents examples of how previous consumers had responded to an online question, the research revealed that the volume of responses could double, with word count jumping from 25 to 50 words.
Equally, employing what are known as ‘Energizer breaks’ to provide a brief, but fun departure from the survey provided light relief and prevented respondents from becoming bored.
Grid questions bore respondents – causing 80% more drop out than other question types and being rated a 3/10 for respondent enjoyment. They are boring to fill in, so respondents try to speed through them and their answers flatline.
Alternative and more enjoyable ways of asking the same questions radically improve interest and enjoyment (from scores of 3/10 to 8/10) and generate significantly more granular data
Question wording needs careful consideration. Online layouts can be visually clear and intuitive to fill in, rendering some instructions redundant. In one experiment we measured no significant differences in response patterns whether or not the scale was spelled out.
Social influence techniques can be used to great effect in setting an expectation. Used carefully, an instruction to “spend no more than …” can multiply the time a respondent spends answering a question by a factor of 5
In some instances, it may be worth making a question optional. Prefacing with the phrase “Would you mind” was found to be a successful means of improving the volume and quality of data and, in our experiments, less than 10% elected to skip the question.
“Brands place huge emphasis on online consumer research, but the money they are spending could see a far better return if they overhaul their approach to engaging the interest of consumers,” explained Deborah Sleep, director at Engage Research in London.
“The first stage of this study emphasised just how boring consumers can find the online survey process. Now that we have identified the issues and the solutions, we can help brands to put these techniques into practice.”
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