There’s no doubt that surveys are vital for a business, but do you know what the most challenging part is? Get the audience to participate and complete the survey!

Let’s face the bitter truth—your surveys might be designed by the world’s top-notch designers, and they might boast every intricate element to grab your audience’s attention, but they will still fail.

Do you know why?

Because this is an era where people are bombarded with survey ads in their inbox all the time, have a hectic work life, and not to mention, our dearest—survey fatigue.

We all have been there. Nobody gives a damn about surveys. But it’s all until that time when something ‘valuable’ is being offered.

Let’s understand the association first. You are asking someone’s most valuable time and opinion in return for nothing?

Will they do it? Let’s put that question to you first—will you do something for free?

The answer is obvious—NO!

Believe it or not, for surveys to work in your favor, you will always need that extra ‘nudge.’

So what is that ‘nudge’ here?

Well, it's survey incentives.

Incentives work on the quid pro quo principle where there is a reciprocal exchange of services or goods for someone’s opinion and time. It is an actual embodiment of the popular idiom “a penny for your thoughts.”

Some brands did it before, others more recently, but they all witnessed the same advantages:

  • ✅ Increased survey responses
  • ✅ Better opinions
  • ✅ High-quality data
  • ✅ Enhanced engagement

Speaking of such brands, here are two good examples to learn from.

Example 1: Walmart’s Customer Experience

Walmart needs no introduction. This retail giant has dominated the shopping landscape for decades, whether in-store, online, international or domestic. In 2021, the company earned $559 billion and boasted 140+ million customers every week from the U.S. alone!

The question is—how does such a big retail company like Walmart, with millions of consumers worldwide, assess customer satisfaction?

The answer is simple. By offering incentives to take a survey after their purchase. And guess what? Even their incentives are giant-sized and often the most-talked-about.

Here’s a sneak-peek of what Walmart’s survey incentives look like:

Credit: Walmart

To make things effortless, they have even designed a separate platform to help customers participate in their surveys. Things get even easier after this.

All a customer has to do is have Walmart's purchase receipt handy because that’s how the company tracks its customers’ satisfaction.

Credit: Walmart

On the receipt’s front side, you will see a small text which introduces you to their survey program and on the backside, you will have clear instructions to take up a survey.

Walmart’s survey incentives are pretty straightforward: They offer 755 customers an opportunity to win their store’s gift card.

  • While 750 customers get a chance to win Walmart gift cards worth $100 each, the remaining 5 customers get a chance to win a grand prize of their store gift cards worth $1000.
  • They chose winners every quarter, which has been their practice for years. They have been consistent with their surveys and have seen success too.

Let’s move on to our second example.

Example 2: Scholastic’s Innovators of Tomorrow survey program

Scholastic may not be as big as Walmart in terms of revenue, but they are certainly one of the world's largest and well-admired publishers as well as distributors of children's books. They also connect educators, tutors, and families via accessibility and engagement.

They recently gained a lot of attention with their 'Innovators of Tomorrow,' a program that invites students and teachers to conceptualize innovations that can solve a problem.

To measure the program’s success rate, Scholastic wanted honest opinions from teachers and this is how they rewarded in return:

Credit: Scholastic

Scholastic’s survey program is simple:

  • They offer 5 winners (or the count specified in their survey) with either a $50 or $100 worth gift card each in return for their honest opinions.
Credit: Scholastic

So what did you learn from these renowned brands today?

It is three important lessons:

  • 📙 Lesson #1: When incentives are offered, people are more than happy to participate in your surveys.
  • 📙 Lesson #2: You need to respect someone’s time. There’s nothing called ‘free lunch.’ To increase survey participation, offer something back. This also shows that you value their time and opinions.
  • 📙 Lesson #3: The survey rewards are still small for a brand like Walmart that makes billions every year. So this means that you don’t have to shell out so much. It is all until the time your business reaches its satisfactory sampling size.

For market research and incentives are no longer an option, but rather a necessity.

Having said that, let’s get into the basics of survey incentives, it’s importance for businesses, benefits, types of survey incentives, and tips to create a survey incentive program.

What are Survey Incentives?

According to HubSpot, survey incentives are gifts or offers that are offered to participants for completing a survey. These promotional gifts encourage participants to not only complete surveys on time but also provide honest feedback.

Survey incentives or survey rewards, however, you call it, come in various forms. While some businesses make use of monetary offers (either money or points—which can be redeemed for gift cards or prizes), others promote trial subscriptions and freemium products.

A survey’s incentive depends on three things:

  • ➡️ The type of survey
  • ➡️ The information you want to obtain
  • ➡️ The target participants

People’s time is extremely valuable, and survey incentives are a way to value their time and opinions.

What do Studies Say about Survey Incentives?

By now, you know that survey incentives do increase response rates but to convince you further, here is some data supporting this statement.

👍 Study 1: Effectiveness of Monetary Incentives on Survey Response Rates

According to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, whenever there is an incentive associated with a survey, the probability of completing it increases by 30%.

The study also found that a mere $10 monetary incentive for a survey was effective in boosting the response rates. It also increased returned surveys by 18%.

👍 Study 2: Response Quality and Response Rates of Online Surveys

Another study conducted by a group of researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands reported that when it comes to increasing response quality and response rates in online-based surveys with long questionnaires, brand vouchers tend to be highly effective.

On the other hand, prize draws work ideally for short surveys. Interestingly, prize draws with smaller prizes but that have higher chances of winning tend to be effective in boosting the response rates.

👍 Study 3: Effectiveness of High & Low Monetary Incentives in Surveys

According to another study performed by the e-Rewards involving 8000 participants revealed that people still complete a survey in spite of being offered a small incentive.

The 8000 participants were separated into two groups—Group A: 4000 people were asked to take a survey for a big incentive of $2500 and Group B: where the remaining 4000 participants were asked to participate in a survey for just $2 cash prize.

The entire survey was only a minute long where they had to fill the feedback form about books & music.

The outcome was fantastic:

  • 19.3% of the participants enrolled for a $2 cash
  • 12.2% of the participants enrolled for a $2500 survey incentive

The above data tells us that in spite of only a $2 cash incentive, people showed interest in finishing a survey.

👍 Study 4: Response Rates of Surveys with and without Incentives

Another experimental research performed by PeoplePulse among its current clientele in order to obtain a clear picture of their survey response rates—with and without incentives—revealed interesting outputs.

The following is a summary of their findings:

The outcomes of the research show unequivocally that, with all customer surveys, if recipients are unresponsive to initial survey invites, a follow-up is necessary to nudge respondents.

When it was investigated further to identify how soon or late the follow-up was required, the conclusion was made – 10 days after the original invitation.

According to the research data, incentives were the key to increasing response rates by 10% to 15%, and attractiveness was the most important factor when it came to incentives. Researchers concluded that quality equated to the incentive's utility and relevance to the B2B audience.

Any questionnaire that takes longer to complete is more likely to fail in producing concrete results. Any distinct opinions are likely to be lost amid others that are uninspired. As a result, researchers feel that scheduling the survey to coincide with the client's most recent engagement with the brand would be more beneficial than broad client satisfaction surveys.

When PeoplePulse investigated a customer conducting a broad feedback survey with an incentive, they observed that response rates ranged between 10% and 20%. Despite the client's follow-ups, this remained the case.

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The moral of the story is, if your participants are assured that they will get something in return for taking a survey—whether the incentive is small or big, it works like a charm.

What is the Impact of Survey Incentives?

Nearly two decades ago, in a COPAFS study conducted in 1999, researchers concurred that incentives should be avoided in surveys lasting less than 45 minutes. Response rates from longitudinal surveys were used as training data for the study, and researchers discovered that they were falling.

Non-response is a prevalent problem in survey campaigns. It is mainly due to rejection rather than non-delivery. Handing out rewards for survey participation – either prepaid or promised –increased responsiveness.

Several theories of action exist, including the norm of reciprocity, rational choice theory, leverage-salience theory, exchange theory, and others. They are all in agreement that incentives play a role in motivating people's actions. They don't necessarily have to be monetary in nature.

Here's the kind of influence survey incentives has on participants:

  • ✅ Be it longitudinal, cross-sectional, or online surveys, incentives elevate the response rates.
  • ✅ Survey participants consistently preferred monetary incentives over freebies, leveraging the former raised response rates. Prepaid incentives help lift it even further. It was found to be far superior to the promised incentive.
  • ✅ While monetary incentives are not the sole cause of lower response rates, a ceiling effect could come into play. The incentives appear to work best on contacts who were unresponsive to the original campaign.
  • ✅ Just about all studies that sought to demonstrate a link between incentive quality and responsiveness were shown to be invalid.
  • ✅ When researchers examined the cost advantages of incentives, they discovered that it reduces cost overheads but not significantly enough.

Survey experiments were previously undertaken to determine the long and short of things when survey incentives were utilized. The revelations were staggering. A variety of factors influenced survey replies:

  • 👉 Convoluted wordings
  • 👉 Uninspiring topics
  • 👉 Questions that were too personal to answer

These were among the major causes for lesser participation.

To determine the effectiveness of monetary incentives in increasing survey completeness, this longitudinal study published in the BMC Medical Research Methodology reported some eye-opening findings for survey marketers who previously held the belief that reward size is linear to participation rate.

Here are some key findings from the study conducted on incentive’s impact on surveys:

  • 📜 When compared to non-incentive surveys, survey completion rates with incentives averaged at 4.2%.
  • 📜 The type of incentive distributed (lottery versus assured; cash versus non-cash) didn’t seem to have a strong influence on completion rates.
  • 📜 It was recently discovered that paying only $10 as a survey reward increased survey participation to 18%. The more money offered as an incentive, the greater the reaction (but without linearity).
  • 📜 However, incentives ranging from $0 - $4 resulted in little difference in responses, but the number shifted a few points up when the reward range was increased from $5 - $8.
  • 📜 The researchers were fascinated by the finding that changing the incentive from $5 - $8 had no discernible effect on survey response. When the prize was upped to $10, the largest response was received. In such a case, the response rate elevated to 26%.
  • 📜 In the same study, the researchers found no significant advantage with large lottery-based rewards over modest promised incentives.

To summarize the findings, incentives have a large influence on survey response and tend to attract those who would otherwise be unresponsive.

When selecting a survey incentive, you may choose between monetary and non-monetary rewards based on what your target audience appreciates the most.

The manner of attracting individuals to surveys, as well as the design, are equally significant. They work together to increase involvement by instilling a sense of value.

In today’s busy digital world, survey respondents are not motivated by empty promises or vague benefits. In short, “we’ll use your feedback to improve our service” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Without survey incentives, you’re going to miss out on incredibly valuable data — and that can cost you in the long run.

You may need to give an incentive or monetary reward payable upon completion of the survey to inspire and enhance participation.

Challenges in Survey Research

Every empirical essay that has won the American Marketing Association's renowned Louis W. Stern Award has used survey research as its major method of investigation. And that in and of itself is a testament to why survey marketing is valuable to a business.

As a result, in addition to being widely used, surveys may provide remarkable insights into B2B activities. Despite its pervasiveness and utility, many scholars are dubious of survey research and frequently critique this approach.

The limits of survey research are widely established, thus the skepticism and criticism are well merited. Responses to survey items, for example, can be contaminated by a number of biases, including social desirability, nonresponse, radical response, common method variance (CMV), passivity bias, and more.

Most survey marketers easily agree that the only reason surveys fail is when they are:

  • ➡️ Badly designed
  • ➡️ Not incentivized
  • ➡️ Rushed through execution

Nothing conclusive can be drawn from it except uninspired responses.

Surveys are extensions of our natural tendencies to seek information by means of questioning and learning about wholes by selecting parts. - Howard Schuman, an American Sociologist

B2B activities and consumer research should not be seen through the same lens since the former is less acquiescent to experimental investigations. As a result, they are simple to measure but difficult to manipulate.

This is why survey research is so valuable to marketers. However, undesirable bias might come in throughout the measurement technique, influencing the conclusions.

So, let's take a closer look at the common problems that are restricting survey marketers and how you can overcome them:

1. Lower survey response rates

In the B2B category, average survey rates range between 20% and 45%. It has lately been narrowed to 33% (Source: SurveyAnyPlace).

However, in another study conducted by Social Norms, 20% response rates were determined to be more accurate than surveys with 60% or higher response rates.

Response Rate=(Responses Returned)(Surveys Sent Out)×100

However, researchers always weighed a greater response rate since the data gap was not unmethodical. They would rather trust a higher response rate from a smaller sample size than a lower response rate from a larger sample size.

This is because larger response rates would allow for the application of analytical measurements such as moderated regression analysis or structural equation modeling. To reduce the gap, marketers exclude non-deliverable surveys for the response rate calculation.

Most issues whirl around:

  • ➡️ High rate of errors
  • ➡️ Irrelevant sample group
  • ➡️ Non-response bias

Design hacks to improve the response rates:

One method for increasing response rates is to contact respondents repeatedly in the pre- and post-survey to offer incentives. It helps to know that there are only three steps to this hack:

  • Contact survey takers in advance to confirm they are appropriate for the survey
  • Include a personalized reward or incentive with the survey instrument
  • Follow-up if there is no response after sending the survey

Analytical hacks to improve the response rates:

Compare early and late responders to determine the degree of non-response bias. If there are no significant differences between the two groups of respondents, non-response bias is improbable. While the approach is debatable, most survey experts feel it is the superior way to evaluate survey responses.

2. Lower completion rates

If your surveys reach your respondents, they become the aggregate statistic, but only those who complete the survey are measured in terms of completion rate.

As you may have seen, the completion rate is determined by interactions with survey takers rather than the number of people targeted. This is why marketers should care about the completion rate, whether it is tracked through email, embedded, pop-ups, or hybrids.

According to a study conducted by Jeff Sauro, the average completion rate is 78%, based on data from 1100 assignments. Ideally, you should aim for 100 percent.

Completion Rate=(Filled & Submitted surveys)(Started surveys )×100

Factors that contribute to a lower completion rate:

  • ➡️ Partial data
  • ➡️ Frustrating survey experience
  • ➡️ Improperly framed questions
  • ➡️ Longer survey times
  • ➡️ Need for personal or sensitive information

Hacks to improve the completion rates:

The drop in completion rate is especially visible in surveys that employ a standard format. To compensate for this unwelcome variation, employ scale types such as Likert and constant sum, as well as anchors such as five and seven-point.

Completing 10 clear questions that do not require the personal information to be revealed is easier and takes less time. The questions might be made easier and more bite-sized so that they can be processed without much mental strain.

3. Errors and inaccuracies

Fewer mistakes are acceptable in surveys as long as they are accidental inputs or omissions. In such circumstances, it is critical to detect such inaccuracies and offer brief comments in addition to the severity rating.

Survey marketing challenges are often beyond simple designs and metrics, especially because it concerns psychometrics. So, here's our earlier post on establishing market research challenges and addressing them with best-fit solutions.  

Let’s consider the Walmart survey example again. To avoid participants providing uninspired responses, they made it obligatory for survey takers to understand English and provide a cash bill receipt as evidence of purchase in order to qualify for the survey. It also made it mandatory for participants to be non-employees and residents aged 18 and over.

Surveys like these have the ability to attract genuine survey takers because they are:

  • ➡️ Existing buyers
  • ➡️ Aware of experience
  • ➡️ Likely to visit again
  • ➡️ Respectful to brands that value their opinions

If there is one thing to take away from Walmart’s survey, it is that surveys help firms learn what customers value more than sales and discounts. This allows them to fix those specific problems rather than redesigning the entire experience, which considerably complicates the process and raises the cost.

If the sample size is large enough, conducting rewards-led surveys with current customers will eliminate challenges related to biases.

If the benefits are as concrete and valuable as Walmart's monetary incentive, respondents are more inclined to submit honest feedback.

How do Survey Incentives Benefit Businesses?

Incentives may have a modest or large influence on individuals depending on the number of hoops they must jump through.

Here are some of the benefits of incentives in surveys:

1. Higher response rates

A monetary incentive for investing a few minutes cannot be ignored by any respondent. It's the proverbial carrot dangling from a stick. They will put forth the effort. According to an NCBI report, in 49 studies, when paired with monetary incentives, survey questionnaires delivered to consumers received double the response.

2. Doubles the reach and impact

Because they are swamped with tasks or do not have spare time, some audiences are resistant to survey invites. When paired with an incentive, however, they are easily convinced to engage in the survey.

A simple example would be marketers attempting to reach out to healthcare professionals in order to solicit their feedback. Request declined to cold outreach, but tasks completed when a reward is promised and double the honesty when rewards are personal and meaningful.

3. Gives multiple chances to succeed

Persuasion is in the nature of marketing. If the original message is not read, contact the receiver again, but this time with an incentive. A follow-up email with the promised reward will stimulate the recipient's interest, making them eager to contribute their few minutes in exchange for monetary or non-monetary compensation.

4. Excites even if surveys are long or boring

The excitement will wane as the survey takes longer to finish. People deliberately choose shorter activities because they have a goldfish's attention span and less time to dedicate to ad-hoc tasks.

However, a few others like the pre-announcement in which the time required to finish the survey is specified. When rewards are also announced ahead of time, respondents are more likely to be patient during the survey marketing campaign.

5. Forges trust even when it’s challenging

Using a poll to get individuals to open up might be difficult since many people are hesitant to divulge sensitive information. This keeps critical information walled in and out of everyone’s sight. This is ineffective to build strategy.

A valuable survey reward carefully selected for the survey participant will encourage them to trust and trade information important to marketers so that the perception or feedback can be used to enhance service features that meet or surpass expectations.

Types of Survey Incentives with Examples

When you have determined your audience, it boils down to what incentives will be offered. The choices are three:

  • 🎁 Monetary survey incentives
  • 🎁 Non-monetary survey incentives
  • 🎁 Hybrid survey incentives

A. Monetary survey incentives

A monetary incentive is a currency-based gift that researchers give to their survey respondents for finishing a survey.

In short, it is anything that a survey participant redeems with a dollar value. It might be in the form of cash, gift cards, or coupons.

Here are a few examples of monetary incentives:

1. Cash incentives

  • Could be in the form of digital prepaid cards or direct deposit. The incentive denomination depends on the survey length and its target audience.
  • For example, a denomination of $2 to $10 that’s targeted towards students in exchange for a five-minute survey is a good deal. Let’s say if the target audience is scientists, professionals, or clinicians, then gift cards worth $30 - $100 work well for a 20-minute survey.

Example of cash incentives: The Merrimack County Savings Bank is a perfect example of what cash incentives look like upon survey completion. Once the respondent answers all the questions in the form, a random winner receives $500 as cash prize.

Credit: Themerrimack bank

Example of prepaid card incentives: Red Hat’s student survey reward program is a perfect example of what prepaid incentives look like.

Credit: Red Hat

To get honest opinions from students, they rewarded visa gift cards worth $10 each for the first 100 respondents. This was an incredible strategy to grab the respondents attention and get them to participate in their survey.

2. Gift cards or vouchers

  • Great way to draw audience's attention and promote your business.
  • Easy to distribute, instant, and the most effective.
  • Participants are highly likely to respond when you have personalized gift cards and multiple options to choose from.
  • The denomination depends on the duration of the survey. Example: For a survey of 15-20 minutes, gift cards worth $5-$10 works well.

Example of gift card incentives: Pipedrive needs no introduction. It is a well-known cloud-based SaaS company that is into CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools to help users visualize their overall sales processes in order to get more done.

Here's how Pipedrive utilized surveys to learn about consumers who used their software. Their smartly prepared survey email guaranteed consumers upfront that they would not be trapped in the activity for more than 10 minutes and will receive a $25 Amazon gift card for leaving their honest feedback.

Credit: Pipedrive

Transparency informs people that their input will result in a better product or experience from which they will benefit. While survey respondents were aware of how much time they would have to devote to the survey, many completed it rather than quitting it halfway through.

Example of gift card incentives: Capterra is another excellent example of what good survey incentives should be like. They are simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated. They have designed a beautiful yet minimalistic landing page that clearly highlights what you get in return for writing a review about software.

Credit: Capterra

They went the extra mile by promoting their survey campaigns on social media, getting as many participants as they can for a $10 amazon gift card in return for a 5-minute survey. Indeed, it a modest yet successful method that yielded more user feedback.

🎁
Check out Xoxoday Plum Incentive Management System

3. Discounts & Coupons

  • These are pretty much similar to gift cards but the difference is that they offer discounts either on their own products or any other popular products.
  • Coupons are a more personal reward than cash. When a survey request is studded with a personalized voucher, survey respondents are delighted. It's an excellent motivator, especially if the coupon can be redeemed at their favorite retailers. It also assists partner brands in counting new clients, which leads to sales.
  • Participants get discounts, partners get sales, and survey campaigners get valuable insights. Participants receive discounts, partners receive sales, and survey campaigns receive valuable insights.
  • For instance, you can give a 20% off or $5 off on the next purchase. Discount coupons are a great way to get customers to spend more on your products, improving business sales in return.

Example of discount coupons: Lenskart is an ideal example of how discount coupons can be distributed in return for feedback. They have designed an individual page for survey gifts, making it easy for their customers to drop their honest opinions in return for a discount during the next purchase.

Credit: Lenskart

This is indeed a smart marketing move to not only increase sales but also to keep the customers hooked with the brand for long.

3. Charity donations

  • These are indirect survey incentives, but for a significant cause. Rather than gift cards or coupons, you can offer participants an option to do a charity donation with their names as donors.
  • Some of your survey respondents may prioritize charity causes over freebies or financial incentives. If you understand their behavior well, and especially the charities they donate to, consider committing to their causes in exchange for survey participation. The goodwill will not go ignored and may result in a beneficial consequence.
  • The idea behind is majorly to generate the emotion of goodwill for a brand. Another major reason is to get participants to be emotionally inclined and create an urge to fill the survey faster.
  • Depending on your budget, the price range might be concrete – between $1 and $20, depending on your budget.

Example of charity-based incentives: Tiger Graph, an advanced analytics & machine learning platform on connected data, urged participants to leave honest reviews about them on G2 in return for a $25 charity donation of their choice.

They created a nice poster and promoted this on Facebook to not only generate as many views as possible but also instill goodwill and create an urge to leave a review a lot quicker by making the audience to be emotionally connected.

Credit: Tiger Graph

They wanted their review count to go up and they figured it would be best to combine emotions and a good cause. While it’s not exactly a monetary benefit, the outcome that they wanted out of it was accomplished. A win-win outcome for survey takers.

If the people you are surveying are aspiring business owners, they might prefer a social shout-out to gain more eyeballs. This works effectively if your brand has a huge following and the ability to influence their decisions through social media recommendations.

Brands would enthusiastically engage in surveys if it meant gaining some leads as a result of their participation.

B. Non-monetary survey incentives

Anything that responders receive for free is a non-monetary incentive. It may be a meaningful present chosen from a catalog based on the customer's purchasing history.

While these types of incentives persuade respondents to take surveys via non-monetary gifts, they still provide value to the participants. They are much more practical for B2B brands because, for business or SaaS companies, small monetary rewards often don’t make the cut. This actually paves the way for more forms of incentives.

Here are a few examples of non-monetary incentives:

1. Product samples

  • Not every company can afford to give out its products for free. This is where company-branded merchandise comes into play. For starters, it has a brand connection, which makes the recipient think about the business that provided the free swag.
  • Besides that, it is cost-effective to scale into a huge survey campaign, paying anybody who joins up for and completes the survey. Nothing convinces people more than the word ‘free’. Why not leverage this to get more things done for your business? Perhaps, you could send your product for free in return for their feedback or early access to your new product features or your app’s beta version.
  • For SaaS businesses, freemium access to any of your top-tier solutions for a limited period is one of the best ways to entice respondents.
  • For e-commerce or product-based businesses, samples lying in the stock from past marketing campaigns can be reused to create effective survey incentive programs.
  • Free trials and samples are an excellent way to get your customers to introduce to your new products and get them to use and make purchases if they like the product.

Example of product sampling: PinchMe is a good example of how you can send products to your audience in exchange for their opinions and time. The gift here is the product itself.

PinchMe is a company that curates multiple products from world’s leading brands and sends them to its members for free in return for the most crucial information they want—honest feedback.

Credit: Pinch Me

This strategy is a great way to pull respondents to spread the word to others, getting more people onboard to participate in the program.

2. Point-based survey incentives

  • These types of incentives are an ideal way to boost participation for not only your ongoing surveys but also for future surveys.
  • In such incentive programs, respondents get an opportunity to earn points for every survey they complete. As they accumulate and meet the required points, they are eligible for a grand prize.
  • Points can be assigned depending on the survey’s complexity and length. This is also a great way to build customer loyalty by helping respondents to keep earning loyalty points.

Example of point-based survey incentives: Google Opinion Rewards is a good example of point-based survey incentives. It gives its respondents a chance to earn rewards by helping them to improve their products & services.

Credit: Google

The beauty is that they have designed a simple and minimalist app for completing surveys on both Android and iOS. It enables respondents to take up short surveys during their leisure time.

3. Trial subscriptions

  • If you are a business that offers top-notch content or media like news sources, online magazines, video content, or trade publications, then consider offering trial subscriptions to your survey respondents.
  • If you are a B2B business that has high-quality content and a pool of resources such as webinars, market reports, or whitepapers, and also have respondents from the B2B industry, then offering your content as a survey incentive not only gets the job faster but also interested participants tend to sign up for future updates.

Example of trial subscriptions: MercuryMagazines is a good example of this. For every survey that the respondent completes, their subscription to free magazines arrives within a few weeks.

Credit: Mercury Magazines

The maxim that "knowledge is free," in reality it isn't, especially when time and effort are poured into synthesizing data from various sources. This is because people and research are expensive, more complicated guides, whitepapers, and reports constitute high-value materials for your survey audience.

Offering them as a downloaded incentive makes it much easier to persuade individuals to complete the survey.

C. Hybrid survey incentives

When it comes to survey incentives, the above-mentioned methods aren’t the only rule to go by. Come up with new ideas to reward your respondents. This is particularly true when sending surveys across various market segments.

Here are some interesting examples of hybrid survey incentives:

1. Sweepstakes

  • If money isn't a barrier, then sky's the limit in terms of what you may provide as an incentive ($2000, the latest iPhone, or anything in between). Choosing a winner from the whole sample size would increase the drama, but also the seriousness with which the surveys were completed.
  • Sweepstakes give an opportunity to the participants to win a grand prize, upon random selection. This grand prize can either be a service for so-and-so months, a product, an experience, etc.

Example of sweepstake survey incentives: Shell is a company that needs no introduction. Renowned in the market for decades, Shell’s Voice of the Customer Contest has been in the limelight for quite some time. It is a survey program that offers sweepstakes on a quarterly basis.

Credit: Shell

Their survey rewards are laid out in a separate platform where they offer grand rewards to 4 randomly chosen winners every year, distributed on a quarterly basis. Their grand prize is the “Shell Fuel for a Year,” where the winner receives $2500 worth Shell gift cards.

Credit: Shell

For businesses, sweepstakes help create that brand ‘hype.’ The emotion of winning an incredible prize motivates a huge number of participants to complete the survey not only quickly but also cautiously.

With sweepstakes, the more the money, the better the gratification.

2. Giveaways

  • Giveaways are a brilliant way to allow participants to win a gift that’s either monetary or nonmonetary with an assurance that every survey respondent will win something even if it is small, however, the grand prize for top 3 winners can be higher.

Example of survey giveaways: During 2019, Sigma Beauty, a luxe beauty store went viral with its survey giveaway in exchange for respondents' honest opinions about their customer experience.

Credit: Sigma Beauty

How to Create a Successful Survey Incentive Program?

Now that you know what types of incentives to give your respondents, the ultimate question is — how to go about creating a successful survey incentive program.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the steps:

1. Set the budget and objectives

It all starts with the right survey budgeting. The main purpose of this step is to plan the underlying costs for a survey — right from the stage of initiation to implementation to execution. This gives you more clarity on how much money needs to be shelled out and what would be the projected outcome from it.

2. Target the right participants

For your survey incentive program to be successful, having the right target respondents onboard is crucial. This is where demographic segmentation and representative data play a key role. Leverage your business’s market research data for this.

3. Choose personalized incentives

If messages and branding can be personalized, why can’t they be applied in the way you deliver rewards? Believe it or not, the only way to make survey rewards credible is to make them personal and meaningful.

Personalized market research incentives not only grab respondents’ attention but also keep the whole journey excited. This is where digital rewards come into the picture.

The beauty of using them is that they can be easily customized to match your brand image with personalized messaging and content, ensuring that your brand name is registered in the minds of your respondents when they get their incentives.

Depending on your survey length and time, you can choose any of these options:

  • Dining at a luxury hotel
  • Experiential gifts
  • Holiday trip
  • Coupons
  • Charity donations
  • Prepaid cards
  • Branded gift cards
  • Deals and subscriptions

Digital rewards save processing and shipping costs while enabling you to track your distribution right from your computer.

4. Decide on the incentive value

While incentives enhance participation, poorly-valued prizes may attract unsuitable applicants (which results in unusable or off-spec data). When surveys are distributed to individuals picked at random, it easily elicits spontaneous responses.

5. Determine the frequency of the incentive distribution

So how many times do you want to incentivize your participants? This depends on your survey. If the survey is fairly short, one-time incentives work the best.

On the other hand, if your survey is extensive and has the need to be executed in multiple phases for a longer time period, then your incentives should be split in proper intervals to keep the participants engaged. This also discourages the participants from exiting the survey prematurely.

6. Track the results

With digital rewards, things are easy and straightforward. It lets you track to whom the incentives are being sent and whether the participants redeemed the gift card or not. This, in turn, helps you measure the overall cost and gives a clearer picture of the outcome.

Key Takeaways

The ideal way to wow survey participants is to guarantee an incentive that they value most. For instance, rewarding the medical community with school supplies is an ineffective method of planning incentives.

Instead, consider something with broad appeal. For example, discounts on courses and conferences. If incentives are well placed, you will be able to avoid biased respondents and distorted data as a result of it.

Take into account what is the standard in your research area with the presumption of prospective recruits. Make sure to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of your incentives.

To conclude, same-old boring incentives no longer work in the digital world. Whether you are polling consumers, employees, or any target audience, there’s no doubt that incentives are no longer a luxury but a necessity, what’s more, important today is the way you deliver them to your respondents.

Will someone with no dogs or cats in his house prefer a pet-based voucher as his survey gift? Even if he receives it, it will go unused.

Well, that pretty much summarizes what we want to convey here. Personalization, meaningfulness, and the liberty to choose their own incentives give brownie points in getting your respondents to complete the surveys faster while delivering value.

'I love filling office surveys,' said no one ever!

So let's make surveys compelling instead. Increase survey attendance by giving your participants exciting rewards.

Employee Motivation
Neha Surana

Neha Surana

I help businesses in spreading delight to their customers at Xoxoday. When I’m not working as a content manager, I love doodling, painting, and cooking.