Improving Survey Response Rates with Incentives

The main reasons why participants respond to surveys

When conducting surveys, one of the biggest problems organizations face is a low response
rate. Your survey can follow all best practices — a well-defined goal, a clear target population,
simple and straightforward questions — and still fall short of receiving a sufficient number of
responses. So, the question becomes this: how can you encourage survey responses without
jeopardizing the integrity of your results? To answer this question, we must first understand why
participants complete surveys in the first place. It is generally understood that there are four
main reasons why participants respond to surveys:

1. Altruism – To be helpful to the researcher or society
2. Interest in the research topic
3. Perceived self-benefit – by responding to survey, products or services will improve
4. Direct incentives

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