Practical guide for survey incentives

What if I could improve my survey response rate by offering an incentive? ?

100% response rate would be splendid.

As a rule of thumb, anything above 10% response rates will yield meaningful data.

But, what if your customers are simply not committed to provide you feedback?

That’s where an survey incentive comes in.

But, what’s the best way to create an incentive for respondents to take your survey, without biasing the results?

Sometimes, it could be too good to be true, which is why it’s a process that have to be handled thoroughly.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  1. What is an incentive
  2. The types of survey incentives
  3. When to use an incentive
  4. Survey incentives ideas

Without further ado, let’s dive into them.

Once your respondent has fully completed the survey, you reward him or her with a voucher, some money, a file, some loyalty points, or anything of value.

The goal is to level the playing field and implement a two-way flow by rewarding our customers for their precious time and efforts.

On one hand, these incentives are meant to increase the response rate, as demonstrated in this study, and prove your willingness to value your respondents’ time. But, on the other hand, they can also entail biased results, which you need to pay close attention to.

That said, you need to pay attention to the population and cohort you’re targeting. You might facing a type of population simply looking for “bounties”, avoid the incentives in this case.

Let’s talk about the different type of incentives.

Baby excited with Gift
Baby excited with Gift
Baby excited with a Gift

We distinguish different types of incentives, based on the time they are delivered, but also what we actually deliver.

This is the most effective way to increase the response rate, as previous researches have demonstrated, especially when we are talking about cold cash, not any kind of voucher or discount.

Survey Incentive Response Rate
Survey Incentive Response Rate
Survey Incentive Response Rate

And as you might expect, the more money, the higher the response rate. That’s being said, there is a threshold at which increasing the value won’t change much.

There is no perfect amount or value for a survey incentive, but there are different things that can help you determine the right amount:

  1. The budget and ressources allocated to the survey
  2. The method used to deliver the incentive
  3. The target of your survey

The financial incentive can also be a donation to a charity, which is likely to work well for high-end population, which doesn’t care much about a small bounty.

When you don’t want to offer monetary incentive, you could also imagine offering educating content, invitation to visit the office or to a special sales operation, and much more, as long as it’s valuable and actionable.

It’s now time to decide the timing and how you’ll deliver.

A pre-paid incentive is one you give to everyone who receives the invite regardless of whether they respond or not.

Even though it may seem counter intuitive, it can be a very cost effective solution because a pre-paid incentive has a much higher impact on response rate than a promised incentive.

On the other hand the promised incentive is usually interpreted as a “payment for the service”. Which means that if you’re targeting a high-end population, they might see it as a very low hourly pay, and won’t take it.

When it comes to giving away the reward, you could decide to deliver it to everybody, or use some kind of random algorithm to determine the winners.

Researches have shown that both types work the same, and will result in similar response rate.

One thing to point out though, is the fact that the lottery incentive could be less costly, but more difficult to manage and talk about.

We have now covered the different types of incentives, let’s talk about the use case, and when to use them.

There is one thing to keep in mind: your use case may not need any incentive.

Let me explain you.

If you’re running a research survey, or churn survey for instance, in order to get to know your audience, and find out what prevented them from going further, the incentive might come handy and wouldn’t impact the result much.

Besides this, if you’re targeting a population of “non-responders” or very busy people, it would come handy.

Note that the incentive could also be plugged-in the follow-up email, if you haven’t got any feedback with the first request.

Example Follow Up Email Capterra
Example Follow Up Email Capterra
Example Follow Up Email by Capterra

However, if you’re running anything involving your customer satisfaction, offering incentives may harm the quality of the feedback you get.

As a matter of fact, the customer is more likely to give a positive feedback, thinking it would mean a bigger reward.

Finally, if you decide to use an incentive, think about using a tool providing restriction to one answer per device or user, which will avoid getting spammed by scammers who want to scrap money. ?

You can also decide to go the gamified way, by offering things like lottery tickets, or any kind of incentive that isn’t delivered to everyone, but based of a random probability.

Let’s cover some of the example of survey incentives that you could use, based of your type of business and who your target is.

Let’s say you’re running a premium application, it would make lot of sense to give a discount (voucher) for any upgrade. On the same topic, if you’re running an online eCommerce business, you could give a voucher on the next order. You’re not only giving back, but also increasing your likeliness of seeing your customer again. We could also imagine offering an Amazon Gift Card, or any kind of similar Gift Card.

We are seeing more and more businesses writing their piece of content relevant to their field. Example: Fiverr writing about freelancing success. By simply not giving away for free, but asking for feedback first, you’re serving both your company and your customer’s interest. E-book is only one example, the point is to send a valuable file, document or book.

Although you could feel like that one is costly, it is simply worth it! Feedback matters and they are worth money! They allow you to grow and reduce your customer churn, therefore making money over time. You could for instance give away 10 bucks sent through Paypal . Cold cash is the most effective way.

We could also imagine offering a prank, or a message to invite to a special event we’re running.

Whatever you choose for, it’s important to use the reward as a way to show the value you’re attaching to your customers’ voice.

Won a Reward Screen Feedier
Won a Reward Screen Feedier
Congrats your customer for what they have won

That’s it for the incentives, it’s your call now! It all boils down to the target, your audience, and your budget allocated to this survey.

If you’re not sure about them, feel free to test two different panels of people with different incentives, or no incentive, and analyse the result. Look out for any biased result, “too good to be true” story, and duplicated answers.

For a more step-by-step guide to craft your survey program, feel free to request our survey e-book here.

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Originally published at Inside Feedier.

The intuitive VoC platform, tailored to collect, organize and analyze feedback data. Making it instantly accessible to the right stakeholders.