If you are curious what impact incentives have on survey response rates, its really not a matter of if they have an impact, as much as how much of an impact.
It has been known for quite some time that utilizing incentives on any type of survey will positively impact the response rates.
While true, that incentives can boost response rates, you should be careful when employing this tactic, to avoid what is known as selection bias.
Selection bias basically means that if a certain demographic group in your respondent pool is MORE motivated by the incentive, you could end up with a higher percentage of responses from that demographic group, thus skewing the results to match the characteristics of that group specifically.
Of course, if most of your participants match the same demographic, this should not be as much of a concern.
But which types of incentives are best?
All participants are different and different groups may respond differently to different incentives, but below are some of the more common incentives that have been shown to work.
You know the saying, “Cash is King,” and gift cards are always a nice touch as well.
Another unique option is to offer a prize drawing where participants get entered into a drawing for a really nice prize if they complete the survey within your administration window.
You might choose to provide a range of incentives that participants can choose from, which can prove highly beneficial when addressing diverse demographics.
To identify the best approach for your project, you may consider running a series of pilots on samples of the population, to see which method yields the best results. Running pilots will allow you to alter not only the types of incentives, but also whether you pre-pay the incentive, or use a promised incentive.
Play around with your options and get creative, and we will see you on the next project!