Last week, JD Woods posted a blog titled: Three Most Common Problems with Your Survey Length, he talked about the problems caused by long questionnaires that don’t keep respondents engaged. Here are some additional tips for keeping respondents engaged, from the beginning to the end of your survey:
- Let respondents know how they are doing. Like a virtual cheerleader, periodic mental breaks throughout the survey in the form of short messages about how much of the survey they have completed, how much longer they have to go, and how important their feedback is can help maintain respondents’ attention.
- Offer the respondent a choice of finishing the questionnaire or taking a break and coming back to it later. Respondents usually have this option, but most don’t know about it. Reminding respondents that they have this choice can improve the quality of their responses even if they choose to continue through the survey without pausing.
- Much has been written about “gamification” in marketing research. And gamification does work, if it is appropriate for the survey – not just to entertain the respondent. In other words, variety in question format, use of graphics, and gamification can all be introduced to help keep the respondent’s attention sharp.
- Be careful in your use of sliders – it is simply too easy for respondents to leave the sliders where they are, even if that is not their true answer. Especially as respondents proceed through a long questionnaire, “instrument non-use” (e.g., not moving the sliders to reflect your response) can be a problem.
These tips are not only useful for long surveys. Some short surveys on very difficult topics can require a comparable cognitive effort on the part of the respondent as some longer questionnaires. So, whether your survey length is 15 minutes or 50 minutes, build questionnaires that keep respondents engaged and avoid the potential negative impact of respondent survey fatigue and inattention on your data quality.