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Surveys are goldmines of valuable data, but reaching that gold depends on getting people to actually take the survey. The struggle is real, with "show rates" (the percentage of invited individuals who even see the survey) often hovering around dismal lows. 

You've crafted a meticulously designed survey, filled with potential to unlock valuable insights. You eagerly send out invitations, hoping to get valuable data. But your heart sinks as "show rates" plummet – a fraction of your target audience even glances at your survey. This common struggle plagues researchers across industries, leaving precious data and potential buried beneath a mountain of indifference. 

According to Qualtrics, A survey response rate below 10% is considered very low. A good survey response rate is anything above 50%.

But the most difficult part of a survey is getting respondents to take the time to fill it out. 

Why surveys get left on read: reasons respondents tune out

Let's face it, getting survey completion rates can be tough. Understanding why respondents choose to ignore them is crucial for maximizing your chances of engagement. 

Here are some reasons respondents hit the "delete" button:

1. Time: In our fast-paced world, every minute counts. If your survey is perceived as too long or time-consuming, respondents will likely prioritize other tasks. Aim for brevity and clear estimated completion time. A study by SurveyMonkey found that surveys exceeding 7-8 minutes saw a 5% to 20% drop in survey completion rates.

2. Effort: Are your questions confusing, repetitive, or require excessive typing? Each hurdle increases the effort required, creating friction and discouraging survey completion. Opt for clear, concise questions with answer options that align with your target audience. ‘User Unfriendly’ surveys having poor UX, making navigating the steps a ‘pain’ also fall in this category. 

3. Relevance: If respondents don't see the connection between the survey topic and their interests or experiences, they'll feel indifferent. Even if your topic is aligned with their walk of life, you must make the extra effort to make sure your questions are intelligent, inoffensive, and don’t cross protocols, causes, and compliances. Tailor your survey to specific demographics or behaviors to ensure relevance and capture genuine feedback.

4. Survey Fatigue: We're bombarded with surveys online and offline. Constant participation leads to fatigue and survey apathy. Limit your frequency, vary your approach, and offer compelling incentives to combat fatigue and boost response rates.

5. Transparency: Opaque surveys raise red flags. Be transparent about the purpose of the survey, who's conducting it, and how data will be used. This builds trust and encourages participation.

6. Interest: Are your questions dry and predictable? Inject creativity and intrigue to spark curiosity and motivate respondents to engage. Consider visual elements, interactive formats, or personalized questions.

7. Timing: Sending surveys at inconvenient times is a recipe for disengagement. Consider time zones, cultural norms, and recipient demographics to optimize delivery timing and maximize visibility. Use analytics to figure out online behavior, cultural traits, and work-life patterns to fine-tune your time strategy. Study shows  the highest survey completion rate for shorter surveys is observed on Monday (18%)

8. Motivation: Why should respondents invest their time? Clearly communicate the value of their participation and highlight the positive impact their feedback can have. Consider offering incentives or gamifying the experience to further motivate engagement. Among all respondents,  ⅓  of them cite earning rewards or prizes as their primary motivation

The power of the incentive: statistics speak volumes. 

A study revealed that surveys offering incentives saw a 30% increase in survey completion rates compared to those without. Another study by Survey Sparrow found that a mere $5 incentive boosted response rates by 33%. These numbers translate to a clear message: rewards work! They incentivize participation, show appreciation, and subtly communicate the value you place on respondents' time and opinions.

"Incentives can increase survey response rates dramatically. Our experience has shown that offering a worthwhile incentive can entice up to 50% of the people who would not normally complete the survey, to finish it and send it in. This applies to both paper and pencil surveys and ones that are presented on the Internet. –– John Towler, a Psychologist and Senior Partner of Creative Organizational Design"

The "lollipop after the dentist" scenario isn't just a childhood experience; it's a universal truth: incentives, rewards, and recognition have a well-documented power to motivate and influence behavior. From the employee receiving a bonus for exceeding goals to the customer earning points for completing a survey, positive reinforcement plays a significant role in various aspects of our lives.

The success of incentives lies in their ability to tap into fundamental human motivators. Rewards signal appreciation, reinforcing desired behaviors and encouraging repetition. They can also introduce an element of fun and competition, sparking engagement and motivating participation.

A world of motivation: exploring different reward systems

Understanding the right type of reward system is crucial for maximizing engagement and achieving your desired outcomes. Here's a breakdown of popular options, each with its strengths and considerations:

Points-based programs

  • Pointers: Offer flexibility and personalization. Participants accumulate points through various activities, allowing them to redeem for a range of rewards like merchandise, travel experiences, or even charitable donations. This system fosters long-term engagement and caters to diverse preferences.
  • Considerations: Defining a clear redemption structure and ensuring a steady flow of rewards are crucial. Consider including exclusive rewards for high achievers to maintain excitement.


  • Pointers: Inject an element of chance and excitement, attracting participation with the potential for big wins. Ideal for short-term campaigns or boosting engagement during low activity periods.
  • Considerations: Ensure prizes align with your target audience's interests. Clearly communicate entry rules and draw dates to maintain transparency and avoid disappointment.


  • Pointers: The universal motivator, offering immediate value and flexibility. Simple and straightforward, it can be particularly effective for incentivizing specific actions or achieving short-term goals.
  • Considerations: Can be costly and may not foster long-term loyalty or engagement. Transparency in how cash rewards are earned is crucial to maintain trust. Let’s face it: Cash - Despite its universal and enduring allure - can sometimes be frowned upon for cultural and other reasons. The good news? You can now discover the power and excitement of e-gift cards as well, such as with Xoxoday.


  • Pointers: Convenient and widely appealing, offering instant gratification without logistical hassles. Can be tailored to specific interests or demographics.
  • Considerations: Ensure a diverse selection of reputable retailers and products to cater to various preferences. Be mindful of potential limitations if your audience lacks internet access.

The effectiveness of each system depends on your specific goals, target audience, and budget. Combining different types of rewards can cater to diverse motivators and create a more engaging experience. Ultimately, the key is to understand your audience and offer valuable rewards that demonstrably appreciate their participation and contribution.

Crafting your winning reward strategy. Here's a roadmap

  • Define your survey goals and target audience. What insights do you seek? Who are you trying to reach?
  • Research and tailor your rewards. What motivates your target audience? Cash, donations, or gamification?
  • Set a clear budget and communication plan. How much can you afford, and how will you communicate the rewards?
  • Track and analyze your results. Did the rewards boost participation? Which types resonated best? Use data to refine your strategy for future surveys.

Automate your rewards framework with technology

Xoxoday is easy to implement, integrating effortlessly with your current technologies and systems like CRM, HRMS, PRM, Surveys, and more. Additionally, Xoxoday’s omnichannel nature makes it compatible with any delivery medium your systems are comfortable with, such as On-Screen, SMS, Email, Whatsapp, QR Codes, Notifications, and many others

Finally, Xoxoday’s data-rich reports and analytics gives you never-before visibility and insights into every aspect of your incentive ecosystem (usage patterns, spending patterns, ROI) so that you can keep optimizing and improving it. Xoxoday’s rewards automation delivers incentives and experiences from a vast catalog of 1mn+ options across 100+ countries. 

Case study: Nielsen supercharges survey completion rates with Xoxoday's rewards automation

Challenge: Nielsen, the world’s largest consumer research company, faced a persistent challenge: low response rates to their online surveys. These surveys, crucial for gathering valuable consumer insights, often saw show rates.

Solution: Nielsen partnered with Xoxoday, a provider of reward and incentive management solutions, to automate their survey reward distribution process. Xoxoday's Rewards API seamlessly integrated with Nielsen's existing system, allowing for:

  • Automated reward distribution: Respondents automatically received their chosen reward (e.g., cash, gift cards, charity donations) upon survey completion, eliminating manual intervention and delays.
  • Flexible reward options: Nielsen offered a variety of reward choices, catering to diverse preferences and budget constraints.
  • Real-time data tracking: Nielsen gained real-time insights into reward redemption rates and participant demographics, allowing them to optimize their reward strategy.


  • Increase in survey completion rates: Automating reward distribution and offering flexible options significantly improved respondent engagement and participation.
  • Reduced time investment: Nielsen saved significant time and resources by automating the reward distribution process.
  • Improved data quality: Faster response times and higher participation led to a more representative and reliable data pool.
  • Enhanced respondent satisfaction: Respondents appreciated the quick and easy reward redemption process, fostering positive sentiment towards Nielsen's research efforts.

Nielsen's partnership with Xoxoday went beyond just increasing survey response rates. It fostered a positive relationship with respondents, demonstrating appreciation for their time and insights. This improved collaboration ultimately led to more reliable and valuable data, enabling Nielsen to make more informed decisions and stay ahead in the market research industry.

Case study: Borderless Access takes flight with Xoxoday: A streamlined approach to reward procurement

For "Borderless Access," a leading travel membership program, rewarding their survey panelists was crucial for engagement and loyalty. However, the traditional process of manually procuring rewards was time-consuming and inefficient. That's where Xoxoday came in, offering a rewarding technology platform that streamlined the entire process, resulting in a 90% decrease in procurement time and a smoother member experience.

Challenges faced by Borderless Access:

  • Manual procurement: Manually sourcing and delivering rewards was tedious and prone to errors.
  • Limited choice: The available reward options were restricted, limiting member appeal.
  • Lack of flexibility: Customization and tailoring rewards to specific member segments was challenging.
  • Scalability issues: Scaling the rewards program with member growth posed logistical difficulties.

Xoxoday's solution:

Borderless Access adopted Xoxoday's comprehensive reward platform, offering:

  • Extensive catalog: A vast selection of rewards across various categories, catering to diverse member preferences.
  • Seamless integration: Easy integration with Borderless Access' existing systems for a smooth workflow.
  • Automated delivery: Automated reward fulfillment, eliminating manual intervention and saving time.
  • Real-time tracking: Real-time visibility into reward program performance and member engagement.
  • Targeted incentives: The ability to create targeted reward campaigns for specific member segments.

The impact:

  • 80% decrease in time spent on delivery of rewards
  • 90% decrease in time spent on procurement of rewards
  • 16% savings that year in incentives


Rewards are a powerful tool, but not a magic bullet. Combine them with a clear survey design, engaging questions, and transparent communication to truly maximize your "show rate" and increase survey completion rates. So, go forth, experiment with rewards, and witness the power of appreciation in action! And if you need any guidance, just schedule a free demo with one of our rewards experts to get started. 

Kirti Kautalaya

Kirti Kautalaya