Traditionally, the number of participants is the primary measurement of significance when you’re conducting a research study. But while volume of participation is key, it misses another dimension—the quality of that participation. Was the respondent overwhelmed by your questions, uncertain about their answers, or worse—bored and distracted?
The offer of an incentive, such as a gift card, for completing the survey is a common method for boosting participation numbers—but it adds another layer of confusion around the resulting data. Were responders rushing through the questions for the sole purpose of gaining a prize at the end? Are their answers reliable?
While there’s no way to completely resolve those questions, pursuing real digital engagement can help to capture more robust behavior data in a survey, offering a new level of insights for your research project. Here are three steps you can take toward better digital engagement with your surveys.
1. Take Time to Discover Your Audience’s Motivators
Survey designers often include a statement explaining or proclaiming the importance of the survey—for example, “The results of this study are extremely important to our organization for reasons X, Y, and Z.” But recent research shows that explaining the importance of a survey is rarely an effective means of encouraging participation. If the invitee fails to participate in your survey, they’re probably unmotivated for other reasons.
To address it, you’ll need to assess your audience’s key motivators. What do they care about? How can you communicate your research questions clearly and succinctly? Searching out the answers to these questions may require a preliminary survey to gauge those motivators.
2. Keep Surveys Brief and Questions Targeted
Current explicit-response only surveys are still called questionnaires—and participants often feel like they’re being interrogated. This puts you at the wrong end of the user engagement spectrum and can deplete the quality of your results.
To offset these issues, keep surveys to a maximum of 5 minutes long. And keep questions short. We’ve found that targeted and thoughtful messaging works 3 to 5 times better than language that is overly forceful, preachy, or fear-based. Focus on crafting succinct, accessible questions that collect the most data with the least time commitment required.
3. Pursue a Digital Engagement Model
Design your survey using a tool that can provide more than explicit response data, delving into the next dimension of user engagement: behavior data. Survature allows you to create behavior-enabled surveys (BES) that track a respondent’s priorities and deliberations as they interact with your questions. With a single question in a drag-and-drop answer format, you will be able to track participants’ decision-making and gather behavior data quickly and easily.