Following on from the questionnaire feedback poll we sent to Livetribe panellists - It’s time yet again to talk about the age old conundrum – questionnaire length and respondent fatigue.
It is common knowledge across the industry that longer surveys will lead to increased respondent drop out but just as concerning is that after approximately 20 minutes, respondents will pay less attention, increase the speed of their responses and lie. As fatigue sets in, people have a tendency to do the bare minimum which hinders thoughtful responses and may lead to straight-lining responses. Thus, data quality suffers as time-poor respondents mindlessly click away in pursuit of their rewards.
Every researcher wants to shorten their surveys, not just to save money but to make it more seamless, interesting and fulfilling for panellists. If respondents are more engaged and responsive they will slow down, think about their answers and provide responses of the upmost quality.
Here are some common tips to help with respondent motivation and response quality.
- Keep surveys under 20-25 minutes – Often a pipe dream. Try and shorten lengthy introductions and tedious demographic questions (if sample provider can append demos this will only help). Only ask questions you NEED to ask - if you are getting the same results to a particular question survey after survey, does it still need to be there? Re-using data from older surveys as much as possible will also help.
- Let respondents know how they are doing – Much like a virtual cheerer. Short messages can provide periodic mental breaks. Including things like how much of the survey is completed, how much longer to go and how important the results are will validate respondents and give them purpose.
- Include the ability to pause and come back later- Make it clear that respondents have this option as often they are unaware.
- Shorten the perceived length of surveys. If possible, break the survey into sections and give the respondent a choice of continuing. This gives them a quick mental break. Also…
- Gamification – Motivate and engage by introducing variety. Combining challenging games, tasks and competitions will help sustain a respondent’s cognitive attention for longer.
- Do not overuse slider question types – Respondents find these techniques very easy to power through these questions with their cursor (or finger for tablets/smartphones).
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