Survey respondents: How to improve their contribution?

Encuestados de calidad
Ignasi Fernández 8m of reading

Survey respondents are a very important factor in achieving better quality market research. Selecting them properly and working with them in an optimal way will help you to get better data. Here we give you all the keys to make choosing and working with your respondents easier.

Who are the survey respondents?

Survey respondents are the people who answer a survey, providing their opinions, experiences, behaviours or information on various topics. They are real people who help us by giving up some of their time to give us the answers we need.

Therefore, the easier and more interesting it is for the respondent to answer our questions, the more attentive they will be and the better data we will obtain.

How to define the profile of your survey respondents?

To choose your survey respondents well, the first thing you need to decide is what your universe is, as your sample of people you are going to interview must represent it accurately.

The broadest type of sample you can use in your survey is a nationally representative one. This is a sample that represents the total population of a particular area such as a country. From there, you can filter by different criteria:

  • Demographic data. For example, by age, gender or household size, to give some examples of common demographic data.
  • Potential buyers or users. Brand surveys target people who are part of a market, i.e. who are likely to purchase or use a product. For example, automotive surveys typically target drivers, FMCG surveys typically target household stockists, and in some cases, category-specific shoppers. The idea is that if you don’t buy or use the products, unless the objective of the study is to delve into purchase barriers, there is little point in including you in the definition of the study universe.

On the definition of the segment depends the value of the incidence rate, i.e. the percentage of the total population that responds to the characteristics we want the respondents to meet.

Where to find the right survey respondents?

Depending on the objectives of the study, you can find your respondents in several ways.

  • Your own customer base. If your brand has a large customer base that you can connect with, looking for your respondents in your customer base may be an option. Interviewing customers after a service has been provided is a common way to conduct satisfaction surveys. Using the customer base is free, but there are drawbacks. With the proliferation of Customer Experience surveys, the response rate of customers is often low and the abandonment rate increases rapidly when we increase the length of the questionnaire. You also have to take into account that it will not be possible to collect the opinions of your competitors’ customers.
  • Your own channels. You can ask people who come to your website, social media or your app to fill out a short survey. This mechanism is useful when you want to investigate usage and opinion about your own digital environments. But keep in mind that your respondents will be representative of the people who use your channels, but not of those who do not.
  • Stores and events. If you have physical stores or if you attend trade fairs or events, you can interview visitors to find out the opinions of the people who attend them.
  • Consumer and user panels. If you want to find respondents who are more flexible in defining their characteristics, you can use a consumer panel. These are large databases of people who have committed to participate in market research on a regular basis. By signing up to the panel, they have shared detailed information about themselves, their households, their equipment and their habits, so you can then use all this information to select samples that closely match the respondent profile you want to obtain.

How to incentivise your survey respondents?

Incentivising survey respondents has a positive impact on the response rate. In addition, respondents tend to give more thoughtful and detailed answers when they receive a reward.

This behaviour is explained by the ‘reciprocity rule’: when an incentive is offered, participants feel a greater obligation to fulfil their commitments with quality. In addition, offering incentives increases respondents’ willingness to participate in future research.

Here are some ideas that can help you choose the best incentives for your respondents:

  • Monetary incentive: offering cash, cheques, gift cards or PayPal transfers is one of the most effective approaches. The promise of receiving extra money for participating in surveys motivates many people to sign up to participate in paid surveys.
  • Sample product or service: If relevant to your audience, offering samples of products or services can increase participation.
  • Coupons or discounts: Providing coupons or discounts to participants can be an effective financial incentive.
  • Donations to NGOs: partnering with a charity related to your business and donating an amount for each completed survey can generate a positive brand image.
  • Raffles or sweepstakes: Offering the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes to win a prize also motivates respondents.

How to design questionnaires targeted to your survey respondents?

Keeping your survey respondents in mind will help you create questionnaires that are easy and entertaining. And that will help you get better quality data.

  • Group questions in blocks and introduce them with an explanatory sentence before block changes. That way the interviewee does not perceive that you are going back to topics he/she has already answered and understands where he/she is in the questionnaire.
  • Introduce the simplest blocks at the beginning and increase the complexity as you progress through the questionnaire.
  • Use language adapted to your respondents. Unless you are targeting a very specific population, avoid using technical words or acronyms that may confuse the respondent.
  • Use a respectful and friendly tone. This helps to build trust and the respondent feels useful rather than ‘scrutinised’. Do not use controversial terms or terms that may have pejorative connotations.
  • Use neutral questions that do not point out desirable answers to the respondent. The respondent should feel comfortable choosing any of the options given.
  • Design questions that can be answered easily, without calculation and without having to make great efforts of memory or deep reflection.
  • Make sure that the answer options are mutually exclusive. For example, in relation to the frequency of a habit, the answers ‘Between two and four times a month’ and ‘once a week’ are not mutually exclusive and will confuse the respondent.
  • Whenever possible, introduce logical breaks and filter questions so that no respondent has to go through questions that are not relevant to him or her. If the respondent has indicated that he or she knows three brands, ask only about those three and ‘skip’ questions about the rest.

Another important aspect to improve your questionnaire is to test it before fielding it. Test it with peers to detect areas for improvement and make sure you polish those points before sending it out to your survey respondents.

Controls to ensure the quality of your survey respondents’ answers

Another important point to ensure the quality of your survey respondents’ answers is to introduce controls to detect unwanted behaviour. These controls can be grouped into three areas:

  • Identity checks. This is to ensure that the survey respondent is a human and is the human they claim to be. Captchas, re-captchas, IP controls and two-factor authentication are methods that should be introduced into the process to identify unwanted respondents and remove them from the survey.
  • Controls on response time and patterns. These controls seek to ensure that the manner in which a survey is answered is beyond suspicion. Measuring the response time for each question and for the entire survey helps to identify people who may not be able to give their full attention before answering. The same goes for identifying response patterns.
  • Inadequate answers controls. These controls eliminate anyone who answers something that does not fit within the expected range. For example, through the use of obvious response control questions, all respondents who fail can be eliminated. Duplicate questions with inconsistent answers, numerical answers that fall outside normal behaviour and the like.

As you can see, there are many ways to ensure that respondents to a survey do so with the full attention and rigour required to make decisions. Check with your respondent provider to see what controls they have in place to ensure quality before you hire.

Easy access to your survey respondents with We are testers

Our commitment to having our own panel with 130,000 participants has made us very aware of all the elements that influence the quality of the data they provide. That’s why we have a team of research experts who can help you select the best sample and design surveys to maximise the quality of the information they provide. In addition, we have a battery of quality controls that allow us to have confidence in the responses of all our respondents. Our agreements with international panel providers allow us to extend our research to more than 120 countries with full confidence.

Contact our experts for full details and start getting better quality data from your survey respondents.

Update date 29 May, 2024

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