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Top tips for tackling survey fatigue

8 March, 2023 | 

By Joris Schellekens, Head of Data & Insights – Mainland Europe

What is survey fatigue?

Survey fatigue occurs when participants are asked to complete surveys repeatedly, leading to lower motivation to take part. This can happen due to various reasons, such as long, repetitive or poorly designed surveys, or when survey invitations are sent too frequently. It’s important that surveys are optimised for all devices as much as possible, in order to avoid issues and to ensure respondents can progress and complete the survey with ease. Survey fatigue increases the risk of poor quality responses, which has become a growing concern in the market research industry.

What impact does survey fatigue have on the outcome of the research?

Survey fatigue can negatively impact (1) the quality of the data collected and (2) the response rates. When participants become disinterested, they may rush through the survey or provide incomplete or inaccurate responses, which can lead to lower quality data. It may also lead to higher drop-out rates, making it difficult to achieve the desired sample size.

Additionally, survey fatigue can impact the reliability and validity of the research findings. If participants are bored or not fully engaged in the survey, they may provide false or inaccurate answers, which can affect the overall findings of the research.

Survey fatigue can also affect the generalisability of the research. If the response rates are low or if participants are not representative of the target population, the findings may not be applicable to the population of interest.

To avoid the negative impact of survey fatigue on research outcomes, researchers must take steps to design surveys that are short, engaging, and focused. They should also consider using different survey formats and offering incentives to participants to ensure their engagement and participation.

How do you keep survey participants engaged?

Keeping your survey participants engaged is essential to maintain high response rates and ensure the quality of the data collected. Here are some tips to improve your survey response rate and engagement:

  1. Keep your survey concise and focused, avoid asking too many questions or using complex language.
  2. Use a mix of question types such as multiple-choice, open-ended, and rating scales, to add variety and keep respondents interested.
  3. Use visual aids such as images, videos, or infographics to make the survey more engaging and visually appealing.
  4. Offer incentives such as rewards, discounts, or entry into a prize draw to motivate your respondents to complete the survey.
  5. Keep the communication lines open. Provide a way for respondents to ask questions or give feedback at the end of the survey.
  6. Incorporate motivational comments or a progress bar in your survey design to encourage completion and inform participants how much further there is to go.

How can you optimise your survey and maintain data quality?

By testing your survey before launch, you can identify any issues that may cause survey fatigue or lead to lower quality data. The feedback you receive can help you to make the necessary adjustments to improve the survey and ensure a positive user experience for your respondents.

Timing how long it takes to complete the survey is essential. A lengthy survey can cause fatigue, so try to limit the survey to 10-15 minutes. Testing the survey with a small group of your target respondents and receiving their feedback can prove valuable. Just by asking the test respondents a few simple questions, such as if they found the survey easy to complete, was it too long, or if they experienced any survey fatigue, could be a good indicator of any modifications required before full launch.

It’s also important to monitor performance metrics, such as drop-out rates during the survey. A high drop-out rate of 15% may indicate that the survey is too long or causing fatigue which would need to be addressed and considered to optimise future questionnaires.

Following completion, it’s useful to review the results of the survey and to look for any trends that may indicate survey fatigue. For example, participants may start providing similar or incomplete answers towards the end of the survey. Analysing and understanding this behaviour, could help further optimise future surveys. 

Remember, keeping the survey short, using skip logic, offering incentives, and providing immediate feedback can help to reduce survey fatigue and keep participants engaged throughout. Also, providing clear and concise instructions, and creating a user-friendly survey interface can help to keep respondents engaged and increase the chances of receiving valuable responses from your participants.

Ensuring you have the right technology and tools in place to spot bad quality data and take the necessary actions to block or eliminate it is a must. Any reputable research provider or insights professional will take steps to ensure the validity of their data, increasing the chances of more engaged survey participants.  

Reach out to let us know the topics you’re interested in learning more about and plan your consumer research now! 

Joris Schellekens

Joris Schellekens

Joris is Pureprofile’s Head of Data & Insights for Mainland Europe, and has been in the market research world for nearly 2 decades. He has enjoyed a number of promotions during his career and has established Pureprofile’s fast growing European business since joining the company in 2021.

Having held various roles in leading international panel research companies, Joris is highly experienced and passionate about the industry. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to advise and guide his clients on how insights can be best used to reach their business goals. Joris is hugely proud of the strong client relationships he has forged over many years, his collaborative approach has delivered much long-term success to both Pureprofile and his partners.

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