Show Respect, Keep Surveys Short!

Conducting primary research (collecting data yourself) is hard. Once you have a clear objective of what it is you want to know, developing the questions to reflect your curiosity, decided on a target audience and venue—- then the most difficult aspect happens. Getting people to respond.

abandonmentA particular element I stress to my clients over and over again is length of the research instrument. Survey Abandonment Whether its an interview or a survey —- clients want more. We all know why this happens. Once the word gets out that primary research is happening everyone has a question they want answered. And so it goes on.

Its just common sense that the longer the survey or the longer the interview, the more fatigue respondents have. Respondents will either abandon the survey or begin answering questions without much thought. So try to practice KISS— Keep It Short, Stupid. I’m sorry to be so blunt.

Unless respondents are engaged in health care research or something that really personally affects them, they don’t care as much as you do about your research. Everyone is after everyone’s opinion. Whether people buy something or click on something or watch something, organizations want opinions and they want those opinions to be shared.

Keep surveys shortKeeping a survey short is showing respect for your respondents. Respecting them could be the first step in engaging them to take your survey. Always state up front how long the survey will take to complete— be honest. When I send out survey invites, the first round always state that the survey will take X minutes, whatever X was for the test surveys. As time goes on and responses begin to come in the second invite will say “respondents have taken from 5 to 12 minutes to complete this survey.”

timeAdditionally, when interviewing respondents, when I state this interview will take 20 minutes, but can go longer depending on your answers, I tell them at the 20 minute mark, its been 20 minutes, would you like to stop or continue. 95% percent of the time respondents will choose to continue.

Of course, a good market researcher has many strategies for getting respondents to care and getting them to engage, however, length is something that is usually in the hands of the novices, who are excited by the idea of knowing everything now. Patience is the key here.

There is a lot of research out there about survey length, fatigue and abandonment, here are two of my favorite posts about the subject. (I hope this blog was short enough for you.)