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USA Idea Center Research & Surveys

Surveys and Research: Incentives Can Help Collect More Data

We receive them in our email queues, delivered by the letter carrier, and (often inconveniently) over the phone. Surveys and invitations to participate in research studies have become a common part of doing business.

But, for all the work and expense required to design and distribute surveys and research invitations and then analyze the results, organizations often struggle with one common problem: achieving adequate participation rates to ensure good results.

According to the website SurveyGizmo, surveys and research requests distributed internally (to employees and students) generally have a much higher response rate (usually 30-40 percent) than those conducted externally, such as among customers or the public, where a pollster may only get an average 10-15 percent response rate.

In addition, response levels may vary depending on the method of survey/research invitation delivery, survey design, amount of time required to complete it and audience expectations for the results.

Response rates can soar past 80 percent when the survey/research audience is motivated, and the survey is well executed. On the other extreme, response rates have been shown to plummet below 2 percent when respondents are less targeted, or if there is less incentive or little motivation to respond.

The public opinion and research journal Survey Practice suggests that even a modest incentive can significantly improve response rates without compromising the results. For example, when researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs promised survey participants a $5 reward, response rates averaged 50 percent.

Organizations that conduct surveys and research can improve their participation results by paying close attention to survey design and delivery method, offering to share final research results with participants and by offering an incentive, either directly or through a contest.

Gift cards have proven to be a popular choice as a survey and research incentive. Depending on the type of research project, the scope of the project and the intended audience, there are many brand choices available, and various ways a gift card incentive can be delivered to research participants.

The gift card experts at NGC are experienced in working with research and survey teams. We can design an incentive component to ensure excellent participation and useful results. Please contact us to learn more.