How to Use Survey Incentives to Increase Response Rates

How to Use Survey Incentives to Increase Response Rates
Charlene Boutin
Charlene Boutin Mar 18, 2021 — 8 min read
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Surveys are amazing to collect data from your audience.

By using surveys, you can find out more about what they want or need, how you can improve your customer experience, and what they think of your products or services.

But one of the biggest challenges when it comes to surveys is the response rate. Conducting a survey is one thing – getting a response is another.

Here’s the good news: you can use a few tips to incentivize your audience and make sure you get the maximum number of responses the next time you conduct a survey.


What is a survey incentive?

A survey incentive is a reward in exchange for completing a survey.

This reward is usually in the form of money or points that can be redeemed for prizes or gift cards.

People’s time is valuable, and a survey incentive is a way to pay for this time.

If your target audience has other priorities on their to-do list, they either need to care deeply about your brand to participate in your survey or have an incentive to complete it.

Offering an incentive of any kind is a way of telling your audience that you value their time AND their opinion.

Do survey incentives increase response rates?

The short answer: yes! Survey incentives significantly increase response rates.

According to this study, the likelihood of returning a survey increases by 30% when there is an incentive offer.

But that’s only one study. A review of 49 more studies claims that a monetary incentive can double your chances of getting a response on your survey when it comes to mailed questionnaires.

This same study also concludes that incentives improve the response rate of not just the actual survey, but follow-ups and other helpful communications. This is great news, since it might be a good idea to follow up with certain survey takers if they have interesting responses you want to elaborate on.

However, keep in mind that survey incentives can also attract the wrong crowd – meaning, those who might not be your target audience, and who won’t give accurate, thoughtful responses.

Consider that several articles are available to help stay-at-home parents learn how to make money from surveys.

An example of quick income from participating in surveys

Articles like this one are highly popular for stay-at-home parents who are looking for a source of income.

For people who want to make the most of survey incentives, it’s easier to give the answer that they think the brand wants to read, not an honest opinion, to ensure they get picked for more surveys. This is great for people who figure this out, but not so great for brands who want reliable data.

To maintain the accuracy of your research, you may want to think of control questions that will help you filter out irrelevant responses.

5 types of survey incentives to help you increase response rates

First, we’ll talk about what you can offer to your respondents in exchange for the survey completion. Next, we’ll talk about survey design hacks that can also increase response rates – whether you’re conducting a survey on your website or via email.

Here are five incentives to make sure more of your audience responds to your survey 👇

1. Small monetary rewards

This one is obvious, but can also sound scary. Will you need to spend a ton of money?

Not necessarily. You don’t have to spend a fortune to use money as a survey incentive.

In fact, Health Services Research found out that although offering $5 as an incentive resulted in a higher response rate than offering $2, the $2 results were actually quite close to the $5 ones – but you’re spending less than half the same amount.

What does this mean for you?

If you have the budget to offer $5, it will increase response rates, but if you cannot, $2 can be enough – you’d be surprised.

You can also offer this monetary reward as a voucher to be used on the next purchase, like Pizza Pizza:

Pizza Pizza offers freebies as a survey incentive for their customers

By doing this, you’re not just giving away a monetary reward – you’re also increasing the chances of getting a repeat order from those who complete your survey.

How to design an online survey form for this example

If you’re sending your survey via email, messenger, or social media, you can use Getform feedback survey templates. Getform is an intuitive online survey builder, and it’s free for up to 100 responses.

Below is an example of such a survey. Make a click on the template to see it in action:

Once you select a template, you can adjust the copy, upload your image, and add as many pages as you want if you have multiple questions. Then, just copy the link to the form and send it out using the platform of your choice.

To deliver the promised incentive, place the discount code on the last page of the form – along with the thank you message.

2. Small giveaways

You don’t necessarily have to give a huge prize to incentivize survey responses. Instead, you can give out a larger number of smaller prizes.

Because there are more chances to win, this makes up for the smaller prizes.

You can offer a variety of small prizes, including:

  • Small Amazon vouchers (from $15 to $50)
  • Small gift cards from your website (same value as Amazon vouchers)
  • A popular item from your store if you’re in Ecommerce

Once again, the total value of all your prizes should correspond to how much you value this survey.

How to replicate this survey example on your website

If you want to display a survey form like this one on your website, you can use Getsitecontrol survey builder. Simply click on the template above or select any other survey template from the gallery and follow the prompts to add it to your website. Then adjust the copy and targeting based on your scenario.

3. Entering sweepstakes for a huge prize

A giveaway or a sweepstake is a highly effective way to incentivize survey responses, especially when the prize at the end is dreamy.

Not everyone will win the incentive, but if your prize is juicy enough, the chance of winning is incentive enough on its own.

For example, this hotel offers a two-night stay free of charge, but other giveaways sometimes offer complete vacations.

A huge prize is a great survey incentive that can be delivered via a giveaway

Depending on what type of business you run, there are several options for large prizes, including:

  • An entire wardrobe refresh if you’re a fashion brand
  • Coaching sessions for course creators and coaches
  • A complete website redesign for website designers
  • A home makeover if you’re a home decor brand
  • A large voucher for your website for any brand
  • A large Amazon voucher for any brand

It goes without saying that the value of the prize should match the value this survey will have for your business. Don’t pour too many resources on a survey that doesn’t matter to you.

4. Valuable digital resources

Do you sell digital products? If so, offering a relevant resource that usually costs money can be a great survey incentive.

You can offer resources like:

  • Digital courses
  • eBooks
  • Paid subscriptions
  • Printables
  • And much more!

For your audience, if this resource is relevant, it can be extremely valuable.

For you, it requires no upfront cost – it’s a win-win.

5. Coupon codes

Existing customers in your email list have probably already used their welcome coupons if you used this type of incentive to sign them up to your email list.

Why not give them another chance to earn a coupon by completing your survey?

Unlike monetary rewards, you can offer a percentage coupon, such as 10% off everything on your website.

This won’t hurt your margins significantly, but it will incentivize your survey-takers to spend more on their next order – the more they spend, the more they save, and the more sales you make.

If you offer digital products, you can offer even bigger coupons, like Becky from MomBeach:

Coupon codes are a common survey incentive that can be offered on a website or via email

In fact, she combines a giveaway and a coupon, so even if someone doesn’t win the gift card, they still gain something of value.

How else do I incentivize survey responses?

In addition to the survey incentives we’ve discussed above, there are other methods to help you increase response rates.

1. Use copy to make your audience feel special

The first step to incentive survey responses is to make sure your audience feels appreciated.

Why are you surveying them? Because you want to know what they think, right?

While this may be obvious to you because you’re the one preparing the survey, make sure it’s obvious for them, too.

In the message you send along with the survey – whether that is via email, social media, or snail mail – let them know that you value their opinion. It can be as simple as writing “We value your opinion” or “We’d appreciate some feedback.”

Another way to show your audience that you value them is by sending them more relevant surveys instead of treating them like just another data point. For example, TransferWise sends surveys based on the specific features you actually use.

TransferWise survey

You can also give some transparency on how you intend to use this data to improve their experience as a customer. If their answers can help design a better product or provide a better customer experience, that can be an incentive of its own.

Remember to let them know how long the survey will take. This is a way to be respectful of their time, and it also helps them plan ahead. If they expect a five-minute survey, but it turns out your survey takes up to 20 minutes to complete, there’s a higher likelihood that they will give up mid-way because they were misled.

2. Keep it as short as possible

The shorter the survey, the more likely your audience will take the time to answer it.

However, it’s often necessary to create a long, multi-page survey to gather data. If this is the case for you, your survey should be as long as necessary but never longer.

Each question should have a purpose, whether it is to gather data or qualify users.

To qualify users, you can add a screening question to make sure people aren’t wasting their time (and that you won’t be wasting yours).

For example, if you’re representing a makeup brand that wants to understand the habits of people who wear lipstick in every makeup look, you could start with the question:

In general, how often do you wear lipstick?

  • Every day
  • Several times a week
  • Once a week
  • A few times a month
  • Once a month
  • Once in a while
  • Never or almost never

Then, you can disqualify those who don’t wear lipstick often enough for your purposes – but still thank them for their time, of course.

3. Use a relevant survey format

Not all surveys are created the same, and for good reason.

For example, you can display surveys right on your website in a form of a popup or you can send a link to a survey via email, and once the respondent clicks on it, the form will open in a new window.

When you’re choosing the right survey format, make sure you take user experience into account.

For instance, if you’re using an exit-intent survey, don’t create multiple pages.

People who have an intent to exit your website won’t be inclined to answer more than one or two questions on a quick popup.

On the other hand, if you’re building a survey that contains multiple questions, multi-page fullscreen forms will look cleaner. There are fewer distractions for users, and they look less intimidating when asking one question per page.

If you are using a pop-up survey that leads to another page, make sure this survey isn’t too long, either.

An invitation to take a survey pops up on the TechRepublic website

Unlike your email subscribers, people on your website may not be as familiar with your brand, and as a result, they are probably not as loyal to you. If they aren’t as loyal, the chance they want to fill out several pages of questions is unlikely.

Get rich data for your business by incentivizing survey responses

When you value your audience’s opinion, it makes sense to value their time as well.

Using survey incentives can not only help you increase your response rate, but it can grow your customer loyalty rates because they feel involved in the brand’s evolution.

Now that you have everything it takes to collect data using surveys, go ahead and create one!

Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.

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