With all the surveys bombarding my life today, it is becoming more and more difficult to want to take the time out of my busy day to complete one. I am almost positive that I am not alone here. I understand what an important role that surveys can play in the American society today, but when does it become too much? It almost makes me wonder how society is able to function when nearly everyone seems to be either posing some nonsensical question or answering one.
That is where incentives for taking surveys come into play. Deciding whether or not to offer incentives for your survey respondents can pose a challenge for a lot of survey makers out there. An incentive may increase your survey's response rate, but also has the potential to skew response (not to mention can become quite costly).
The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to include an incentive for your survey is to consider your participant personalities. If you are trying to get responses from a hard-to-reach population such as college students or a younger generation of males, incentives may be best the best way to attract them. These incentives may make it more likely that you receive the quantity and quality of responses you're looking for from a certain demographic of people.
As far as incentives go, money improves response rates greater than gifts, and prepaid incentives improve response rates greater than promised incentives. Incentives have commonly been used to improve response rates of survey participants, and it is well reported that in mail-based surveys, prepaid monetary incentives garner higher response rates (19%) than prepaid gifts (8%) when compared to surveys that did not use incentives.
It is really up to the type of study you are conducting and your budget when deciding whether or not using incentives will be of value. However, keep in mind that people may be taking the survey solely for the incentive and their responses could be considered unreliable.
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