Online Surveys – How to Maximise Your Response Rate

Online surveys are undoubtedly the most cost effective way to gather important data such as customer satisfaction and employee opinions. But how do you maximise your response rate? This is a problem incurred by most businesses undertaking online surveys and there is much literature available relating to the topic, all with varying facts and figures in relation to what response rate to expect, techniques for increasing responses, what length of survey should be used etc.

The simple truth is that there is no single guideline to follow when undertaking an online survey, as each survey has its own set of variables affecting its response rate. However, there are some common techniques used to enhance the likelihood that a potential survey respondent will complete your questionnaire.

Having undertaken hundreds of online surveys of customers, employees, businesses, membership groups and event guests, I began recording survey response rates and the types of key variables likely to affect them. The variables recorded were:

  1. Whether survey invitations were personalised (i.e. Dear John Smith v Dear customer)
  2. Length of survey (categorised into completion times of 1-4 minutes, 5-9 minutes & 10+ minutes)
  3. If a reward/prize was offered
  4. Whether or not the survey was sent to people with a known interest in the survey subject (i.e. job related, previous customer, linked to social interests etc.)

The figures shown below were derived from the data of 143 online surveys, which were completed by a total of 49,335 respondents. As a general process, potential respondents were contacted twice via email to encourage participation in the online surveys.

Please note that the majority of respondents had submitted their details to various databases or were customers of my clients; therefore, it is likely that they were aware of the brand/company prior to receiving the online survey invitation. People sending email invites to random sub-sets of contacts should not expect to achieve response rates as high as those listed below.

Taking into account the 4 variables and their options, there were 24 possible combination’s – this will make sense when looking at the dot-points below. The combinations with the 5 highest and 5 lowest response rates have been listed.

5 highest response rates

  1. Personalised email & 1-4 minutes to complete & reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 45.3% average response rate
  2. Personalised email & 5-9 minutes to complete & reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 40.1% average response rate
  3. Non-personalised email & 1-4 minutes to complete & reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 39.8% average response rate
  4. Personalised email & 1-4 minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 39.2% average response rate
  5. Personalised email & 5-9 minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 38.4% average response rate

5 lowest response rates

  1. Non-personalised email & 10+ minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents did not have a known interest in the survey subject = 8.2% average response rate
  2. Non-personalised email & 10+ minutes to complete & reward offered & respondents did not have a known interest in the survey subject = 15.5% average response rate
  3. Personalised email & 10+ minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents did not have a known interest in the survey subject = 16.2% average response rate
  4. Non-personalised email & 5-9 minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents did not have a known interest in the survey subject = 19.4% average response rate
  5. Non-personalised email & 10+ minutes to complete & no reward offered & respondents had a known interest in the survey subject = 19.5% average response rate

So what works best?

The above findings show some clear correlations between response rates and the variables affecting them. As a general rule, it appears that the following actions should ensure that you gain the highest possible response rate when undertaking an online survey:

  1. Personalise your email invitations. People are more likely to respond to emails that address them by their name rather than ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, Dear Colleague’ or ‘Dear Customer’. If you have the names of potential survey respondents, use them! This is easily done using simple software such as Microsoft Word in a mail-merge format sent via your Outlook account. It links directly to your database, removing the burden of typing every single name into each email invitation.
  2. Keep the survey as short as possible. In most cases, the shorter the survey – the higher the response rate. Obviously some online surveys need to be in-depth and cannot avoid being 10+ minutes in length; however, try to avoid asking questions that only gather irrelevant information. This is a common crime amongst survey developers when preparing questions for an online survey.
  3. Offer a reward. Everybody loves getting something for free, so try and offer a reward when sending out online survey invitations. Some experts such as Kurt Knapton, Executive Vice President of e-Rewards Market Research, suggest that you are more likely to gain a higher response rate if you offer every respondent a small reward rather than a chance of winning a large sweepstakes prize. His study found that offering 4,000 people $2 each to complete a survey achieved a 19.3% response rate. Offering the same volume of people with an entry into a $2,500 sweepstakes draw only managed a 12.2% response rate.
  4. Find contacts that are likely to have an interest in the survey subject. This is no scientific discovery, but response rates are always going to be higher if the potential respondent has some interest in the survey subject. Job satisfaction surveys always gain high response rates because employees believe that their answers will influence beneficial changes. Likewise, repeat purchasers of a particular product/service will undoubtedly have more interest in a related online survey than someone who has only used it once or never at all.

The Top Paid Surveys – How To Find Them, How To Make Money With Them

If you want to make money with paid surveys, you must find your way to the top paid surveys, made by the survey makers that actually pay. Almost all survey makers claim that they will pay for their surveys but only about 25-30% of them (or less) actually pay participants in cash or equivalent.

The survey makers you want, those who pay in cash, don’t advertize or promote very much. They don’t need to. People seek them out. They have low turnover and word-of-mouth promotion is all that many use.

The ones you do not want, those who only sometimes pay or who promise to pay and then do not deliver, promote a lot. They have to, since they are always losing participants. They take out ads, hire recruiters such as “free” paid survey sites to recruit new participants, frequently at $5 a head or so.

So when you surf the Net looking for survey makers to sign up with, hoping to find the top paid surveys, you will mostly encounter ads and promo deals for those survey makers who will, at best, just waste your time.

The best way to find the top paid surveys and the survey makers that send them out, is through a good paid survey guide companies or paid survey site.

A good, serious, paid survey site will have a strong money-back guarantee, backed up by a financial entity, and a low refund rate under that guarantee.

The strong guarantee does three things for you.

1. It tells you that this paid survey site believes in the service they offer and will stand behind it.

2. The presence of the financial entity tells you that the site is responsible and mostly delivers what they promise and

3. If worse comes to worst, you won’t lose any money.

The refund rate is the best measure of the considered opinions of the most recent clients of that paid survey site. A low refund rate means that their clients were satisfied with the value of the services provided. A high refund rate means that many clients were unhappy and demanded their money back.

Look for a strong 60-90 day money back guarantee backed by a bank or financial company such as PayPal or ClickBank. Look for a low refund rate, in the 3 to 6% range. Avoid any paid survey site with a refund rate that is either unknown or is at or above 9.0%.

Then, in your quest to find the top paid surveys, you will then have positioned yourself to have control and recourse, with these advantages:

1. You are paying your guide, to take you where you want to go (not having someone else pay to bring you to them!)

2. The paid survey site that you selected will have to prove to you the value of its services in order to keep the fee you paid. Value will be conveyed by a list of good survey makers that send you the top paid surveys and actually pay you for surveys, returning the membership fee in the paid survey site many times over.

3. You will have positioned yourself to be amongst the happy clients of a site with a low refund rate.

4. If all else fails you have a strong money-back guarantee.

Now, to maximize your income, you will need to maximize the number of good survey makers that have your application to be a future survey participant, on file. Apply to all on your paid survey guide’s list of preferred survey makers.

For more information about the top paid surveys, follow the links below.

Introduction to Online Paid Surveys

Quick Facts about Online Paid Surveys

* Taking online surveys is not a get-rich-quick opportunity. You won’t make a full time income doing this.

* Legitimate survey companies will never charge you for participating in market research studies.

* Not all survey websites are legitimate. There are some bad apples in the bunch.

* Those who live in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia typically have more survey opportunities available to them compared to those who live in other countries.

* Online surveys usually pay anywhere from $1-$20, although a majority of surveys will pay $1-$5 per survey.

* Incentives vary from site to site; the most common include cash, gift certificates, merchandise, and sweepstake entries.

* No prior experience or special training is needed to take surveys.

* Taking surveys is not considered a real job – just another way to earn extra cash online during your free time.

* Survey websites are not to be confused with GPT sites, who also allow their members to take surveys and earn rewards. Survey sites send out paid survey opportunities and that’s it. GPT sites, on the other hand, mostly deal with third party offers and allow their members to complete those offers in exchange for a small monetary reward.

Get Paid to Take Surveys! What’s this about?

To give you an idea of how online paid surveys work and how everyone benefits from this opportunity, I’ll be providing you with a general example of the overall process.

A company wants opinions about their new product.

A company has just developed a new toy aimed at girls. It has not been released to the public yet. Before the company launches their advertising campaign and puts their new product on the market, they invest some money into market research. They want to get an idea of what people think about their new toy.

They hire a market research company to carry out the survey and collect the feedback that they need.

The company chooses to come up with a survey targeted towards parents who have girls between the ages of 5-10. They get assistance from a market research company that can execute the survey, get people to take the survey, collect their responses, and compile the data in a nice report that the company can review and analyze. The company pays for the services of the market research company.

The market research company goes to work and sends out survey invitations to their list of members who may qualify for the survey.

After the survey is created and ready to collect feedback, the market research company sends out survey invitations to those who may qualify to complete the survey. To entice members to fill out the survey, the market research company offers to pay $5 to anyone who completes the survey.

Panelists, members of the survey site that have consented to be notified when new survey opportunities become available, are then sent an email with a link to the survey.

Panelists are notified that there is a new survey that they may potentially qualify for. In the email, they see the amount the survey pays, the estimated time it takes to complete the survey, and a link to access the survey.

When they click the link, they will be taken to the survey. Before they can complete the survey, they need to meet the company’s requirements; they need to be a parent of a 5-10 year old girl.

They will answer pre-screening questions that will determine whether or not they qualify to complete the survey. If they qualify for the survey and complete it, they will earn the $5 that the market research company promised to them.

Data is collected from a select number of individuals and rewards are distributed to those who successfully completed the survey.

Once a certain number of people have completed the survey, the survey is then closed and all answers are verified. Everyone who completed the survey and provided genuine answers in their surveys are then paid by the market research company.

Note: In most cases, rewards are added to a panelists’ account balance. Once they have accrued enough earnings to request a payment (the amount varies from site to site), they can request and receive their rewards.

The company then gets a detailed report containing the data gathered from the survey.

The market research company has collected the feedback from the surveys and has put it into a detailed report for the company to review. The company gets this data and uses it to help them make their product better and, most importantly, more profitable.

Do you see how online paid surveys work? The process is a bit complex for those behind the scenes but as a survey panelist, it’s an easy way to earn rewards for your opinions. Plenty of paid survey opportunities become available on a day-to-day basis. And if you can become a panelist of some of the best paid survey websites, you can take advantage of this free opportunity and get paid for your valuable opinions.

Beware of Scams

Taking surveys and earning cash for your efforts is totally possible. You will not be able to give up your day job but you can use the extra cash to pay a bill or put extra cash in your pocket here and there. It’s a real opportunity.

BUT… there are websites out there that target those who want to take surveys for cash and try to deceive, scam, and take advantage of them. If you are interested in getting paid for taking surveys and you don’t want to fall prey to paid survey scams, avoid any website that fit the following criteria:

  • Sites with an absent or sketchy privacy policy and/or terms of use
  • Sites that charge you to find paid survey opportunities on your behalf
  • Sites that ask for any type of fee to fill out surveys
  • Sites that claim that you can make a ton of money taking surveys
  • Sites that use deceptive or misleading advertising
  • Sites that ask for your SSN or debit/credit card number
  • Sites with a poor Better Business Bureau rating and lots of complaints
  • Sites that recommend or promote paid survey scams or shady survey sites that usually meet many of the above criteria in this list.

Always do adequate research before investing your time into a survey website and never hand over your money just to take surveys.

Legitimate Survey Opportunities

Legitimate online paid survey sites will never require you to pay money to sign up with them and take surveys. All that they ask for is general information that they can use to send you surveys that you may qualify for, and of course, contact details so that they can inform you of new surveys and send your rewards.

They do not tell you that you can get rich taking surveys nor do they promote the opportunity as a work from home job. Taking surveys is just a way to make extra cash in your spare time. The money you make will not substitute a real job.

You can learn about survey sites by looking over their terms, privacy statement, and FAQs section. You can also search the internet for reviews about different survey companies.

After confirming the legitimacy of a survey website, make sure to look at what types of rewards the survey site offers. A good portion of them don’t actually offer cash rewards. But there are some that do. These are the sites that you should join if you want to earn money taking surveys.

Credentials of Legitimate Paid Surveys Sites!

There is growing demand of the true guidelines that segregate legitimate paid surveys sites from the fake ones. The overall experience of the surveys takers that work for the fake sites is the credible method. But, you can also visualize a website and evaluate its legitimacy after following certain steps. In reality, the genuine surveys sites are only the best paying sites and rest all are wastage of time. You are not given enough emoluments if you work for fraudulent sites. Well, no site present clearly that it is a fake site. It is you who have to establish the facts by testing the website thoroughly using advises from the experienced survey takers.

If you wish to sort the legitimate site from the bunch of paid surveys sites, then here are some of the tips that can throw light on the true facts;

1. The genuine sites that offer surveys do not ask for any type of membership fee or registration charges. If you encounter a website that asks you to pay some charges for joining it, then you should understand that it is not a genuine website.

2. The legitimate surveys are backed by worthy managers. You are awarded the survey that is the best match for you. It is done so as to ensure the quality of work.

3. The payment terms are drafted in a manner that benefits each other. If the payment terms are cash, or coupons or gift vouchers of free tickets, every thing is offered in such a manner so as to bring justice to the work. The payment is done after completion of the job and it is not forfeited intentionally.

4. The legitimate paid surveys sites do not rely on the promotional advertisements to enticing users to join the website. The testimonials that are awarded to that particular site are genuine and verified.

5. The sites practice an ethical work culture and do not prompt you to buy any product or service before hand so as to enable you for a paid survey work.

In nutshell, the whole business model of legitimate surveys sites is scam proof, high paying, and quality oriented.

Answering Paid Opinions and Surveys at Home

Everyone surely wants to get compensated for everything that he/she does whether it’s in the form of money, gratitude or kindness. We want to feel that what we do is valuable. From time to time, we feel that we need to get a tap of approval from the boss, or a simple “good job” from our mom. This is the same when taking paid opinions and surveys. The time we spend in filling out a survey form is important to us. Our opinions are also important to research companies. Thus, they pay for a simple task like survey taking.

Though we know that most of the surveys we take at department stores will do well to someone, particularly to the customer service provider, it’s different when we get compensated. You just feel good spending your time providing honest opinions and answers.

Marketing Strategy

Surveys have long been used to measure customer satisfaction on a particular service. A piece of paper will be given to the customer with boxes to check to signify his choice, and a blank space at the bottom is where he can write any additional comments that he would like to say.

As people become busier and busier, this method became ineffective and unpopular. Only few correspondents give their time for this process. To avoid being biased, companies thought of doing a market research that involves experiments. However, this approach means a lot of money. Company heads feel that this is a waste of money. There is and will always be types of people who don’t care whether they give out sincere answers or not. Thus, promotions and social experiments are not always the best.

Doing paid surveys at home is a different thing. With the advancement of internet technology, it also has become a new medium for surveys. This time, the correspondents are people coming from different parts of the world. As long as you have internet connection, you can take paid surveys anytime you are available. The survey company will check your profile one by one and see if you are qualified for the survey. If the survey available doesn’t match your profile, it will not be recommended to you. You will not be forced to do what you don’t know. It must be noted that these paid opinions must be answered with all honesty.

How about the payment?

Companies pay survey websites that conduct the surveys in their behalf. You receive payment from these survey websites. You can keep full track of your earnings from the website where you signed up with. But if you think you will have problems receiving money, don’t worry, clients can send you money through bank to bank transaction, cash vouchers, cash checks, gift checks, and freebies. You have a variety of options to get paid for your opinions.

What are the requirements to qualify for a survey?

Basically you just have to be 18 years old and above who knows how to use computers and internet. Since the job is done online, your browsing skills are needed. For you to finish a lot of surveys a day, it is an advantage if you read and navigate the computer fast. Most surveys take about 10-15 minutes each. Paid surveys basically ask you about things that you know, like the products that you use at home. For paid opinions, you will be asked about your take on certain things. You do not need special skills and training to be a survey taker.