Survey Fatigue: Toeing the Line Between Follow Ups & Pestering Your Respondents

November 13, 2019

Survey Fatigue: Toeing the Line Between Follow Ups & Pestering Your Respondents

November 13, 2019

Survey fatigue – a universal issue that researchers face all over the world. Your surveys are delivering the insights you need and you want more of the same but you can’t pressure your respondents too much.

You need to know that your survey might not be at the top of their priority list to design surveys in a manner that is respectful of the customer’s time.

Survey fatigue is a two-headed beast and can happen in two ways

Before attempting the survey
This usually happens when respondents are completely overwhelmed with survey requests, which makes them unenthusiastic about taking the survey at all. A scenario such as this needs to be avoided at all costs as one can risk alienating potential respondents for life.

During the survey itself

A researcher’s task doesn’t end with getting the respondent to take your survey – keeping a respondent’s attention within the survey is an extremely important task unto itself. Long and convoluted surveys can increase drop-off rates, which give incomplete, sub-par and unreliable data.

To ensure high response rates, you need to convey to respondents that their participation has value and that you respect the time they take out for it.

Researchers can reinforce the same by following certain practices

Dispel security concerns

Data privacy is a big deal nowadays and even the average user is aware of the value of their data. The researching party needs to ensure that should they choose to collect a customer’s private data, especially in the case of web surveys, then they do so with the help of a secure and robust survey software solution.

Simplicity is key!

According to a study by Microsoft, the average human has an attention of just 8 seconds. Putting this fact to the test is a matter best left as far away from a survey as possible.
You need to design your tests to be brief and straightforward to get the best completion rates possible. This, in turn, will grant you far more usable data for analysis.
There can be exceptions, but those may need incentives to be more effective.

Focus, Focus, Focus!
Rather than meandering through tangentially related topics, a focused questionnaire with relevant queries is sure to keep the respondent engaged throughout the process. This holds true for any sort of survey technology – be it online (CAWI), face to face (CAPI) or telephone (CATI).

Design
This may seem like a minor detail, but a pleasant survey design with a few flourishes here and there goes a long way in capturing and engaging a respondent’s attention. This is especially effective for online surveys.

Sample your surveys
You’ve created your survey, and you feel that it’s meeting your requirements. But is it something that a person who is not invested in the survey’s success would be interested in completing?
It’s impossible to get a definitive answer to this question, but you can send your survey to a sample audience to get some early feedback about its’ weaknesses.
Incorporating the feedback gained into your surveys can dramatically decrease drop-off rates and provide robust results.

Skip logic so respondents don’t skip your surveys.
Surveys in today’s digital era are so much more than simplistic question and answer sessions. For example, the best online adaptive web survey platforms today can allow for skip logic, which trots out questions related to what they answer within the survey.

Your survey has value, you need to make your audience aware of it
People can often feel like the surveys they’re participating in is going to have no impact. If your candidates can see how and where your survey might make a difference, they would be far more likely to complete it, often with more integrity.
Down the line, mailing respondents the impact of the surveys they have participated in can make them more keen to attempt more such activities in future.

Survey fatigue is not a problem for researchers alone. Poorly constructed surveys can make people wary of taking them in the future, impacting both drop-off rates as well as response rates. 

It’s imperative to communicate your survey’s purpose effectively, both when approaching a potential respondent and within the survey itself. While there is no hard and fast rule on making good surveys, the points listed in this blog should help in constructing a questionnaire that gets you the data that you need. 

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