Monetary Incentives Not the Only Factor in Boosting Survey Response Rates

Many companies that conduct surveys among their customers or employees are very concerned with maximizing the response rates to the survey.  Offering monetary incentives for a survey respondent’s time is proven to significantly increase response rates in many customer and employee surveys.  Different incentive structures as well as different amounts offered have varying effects on response rates.  But in our experience, the value or probability of receiving an incentive is not the only motivator for potential online survey respondents.  Our multi-tiered experience reveals there is more at play than the chance to win a monetary prize when it comes to completing a survey.

Trends show that an established relationship between an organization and survey respondents can influence the incidence of completion.  Infosurv has observed:

    • Respondents are more likely to respond to a survey when an incentive is guaranteed upon completion.  While prize drawings may work at a less effective level, the amount of the prize can motivate respondents beyond the baseline degree.


    • From whom respondents receive an invitation also plays an important role in how likely they are to complete the survey.  We typically see higher than average survey response rates when the invitation comes from a familiar contact within a company or a familiar entity as opposed to an unknown source.


  • The level of engagement the respondent has with the organization plays a very important role also, as higher response rates are observed on average with companies that had an engaged or long-term relationship with the respondent as opposed to those with more of a transactional relationship.

From these general trends, Infosurv recommends companies looking to boost response rates from their customer or employee surveys follow these guides:

    • If you’re going to offer an incentive to respondents, a guaranteed incentive upon completion of the survey is best.  This incentive can range in value from $5 to as much as $20 per respondent.  Offering the chance to win cash or other coveted prizes will also motivate respondents to complete a survey, but not as effectively as an incentive offered to each respondent.


  • If no incentive is offered, invite customer respondents to the survey from a familiar contact within the company to enhance the credibility of the survey. Whether this is an account manager, representative, or senior staff member with whom they’ve had some interaction, the presence of familiarity will engage these respondents more than an independent research firm alone. For employee surveys, however, we recommend pre-communication from within the company (ideally the CEO) introducing the survey and research firm, with the actual invitation coming from the third-party research firm.