How to Make an Online Survey More Engaging and Fun for Respondents

The market research industry and online surveys often get a bad rap for being boring and stuffy. At Drive Research we like to challenge the status quo of the industry by working to make our online surveys more fun and engaging for respondents.

Respondent engagement is always top of mind for our team. If respondents are not willing to offer feedback and take part in online surveys, our industry would not exist. It is important to keep these tips in mind when you launch your next online survey.

How to Make an Online Survey More Engaging and Fun for Respondents

Respondent engagement must stay top-of-mind when writing and designing your survey. If the survey is engaging respondents are more likely to complete the entire survey, offer truthful responses, and type more.

Tip 1: Keep the survey short

We find a survey in the range of 3 to 5 minutes maximum for non-customers and up to 5 to 7 minutes maximum for customers is optimal. This buys you about 10 to 15 questions for non-customers and 20 to 25 questions for customers. Anything more than this and you significantly increase the likelihood of drop-off in your survey.

Tip 2: Ask questions you can take action with

Our team tells our clients to not waste questions you do not plan on using the data for. A simple example here is gender. Although gender is commonplace in the demographics section of a survey, will your organization actually care about how males vs. females respond? Will you create separate marketing strategies based on gender moving forward? If the answer is no, it is not worth asking and wasting time for the respondent. Use the question for something else.

Tip 3: Change scales

No one likes the same 1 to 10 grid scale over and over again. If you use the same type of question or scale too much you are likely to fatigue the respondent and cause drop-off. Think about changing scales such as using 1 to 5 scales, using star rating scales, or even slider scales. Changing how questions are asked and answer categories aids in engagement.

Tip 4: Use some lighter language

Your survey doesn't have to be stuffy. Respondents appreciate some humor or lighter language as long as it does not impact or bias the responses. You have a little more wiggle room if your survey is research-based content.

Our team once wrote a survey for a Star Wars related brand of B2B software. Rather than asking a stuffy question about which factor(s) mattered most when selecting a data backup software, we asked, "Which of the following Star Wars characters would you most want your B2B data backup system to emulate?" A lot more engaging and fun.


Tip 5: Encourage the respondent

This is as simple as adding in a few lines of text here and there to help encourage the respondent to continue. "Almost finished, just a few demographic questions." "Just a few more questions to make sure we have the right mix of respondents." "You're doing great, thank you for your feedback." Little text adds like these can make a large difference.

Tip 6: Use a progress bar

Progress bars helps respondents know exactly where they sit on a survey. Are they 10% done? 50% done? 90% done? Offering this at the top or bottom of the survey page keeps respondents aware of how close they are to the finish line.

Some may argue progress bars actually hinder completion rates because it keeps the time to complete too top-of-mind for the survey taker (i.e. "I am 5 minutes in and I am only 50% done?")

Tip 7: Be accurate with your time to complete

Do not mislead the respondent on how long the survey takes to complete. This is a major problem in the market research industry. For too many years, market research companies have been promising 15 minute surveys take 5 minutes and 10 minute surveys take 2 to 3 minutes. It has created a poor reputation among survey takers.

Be as accurate as possible with survey takers. Tell them the survey contains 10 questions and will take 3 minutes. Or if it is longer, tell them that too. The worst thing is telling a survey taker it will be much faster than it actually is. If the respondent spends a lot of time typing on an open-ended question, in most cases they will realize the increased length of time to take the survey is on them.


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Drive Research is an online survey company in Syracuse, NY. We work with organizations across the country to assist with market research and online surveys for a variety of industries. Questions about an upcoming online survey or need to ask us a question?

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