How to Make Online Surveys More Engaging for Respondents?

"Yay another survey". Not said by everyone but said by said by a lot of people. As a market research firm, this is a daily problem for us. Surveys can be fun, we promise.

Our job in market research is largely about getting respondents to spend a few minutes taking a survey with time they do not have. Sure there are some survey fans out there. Many of which are on our market research panel in Upstate New York.

So, it becomes our job to do everything possible to make surveys more fun and engaging for participants. Engagement helps with data quality, length of interview (LOI), and makes the survey experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. Both the writer and the taker.

Yes, we make our online surveys fun and engaging.

On those days we consider ourselves market research superheroes.

Improving the survey experience is a little bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Except market research is the pig. And it's one awesome pig as far as we're concerned. So it's nothing like putting lipstick on a pig. It's like putting lipstick on a unicorn. That's better.

How to Make Online Surveys More Engaging for Respondents?


Tip 1: Change Scales

No one likes repetition. It's great for practicing free throws, tennis serves, and shooting a hockey puck but it's not great for survey takers. Repetition in survey scales results in doom for your market research. It's okay to use back to back 1 to 5 scales, but 3 in a row? 5 in a row? 10 in a row? Back-to-back grids of scales? Forget about it.

We make it a point to vary scales in market research. 1 to 5 scales are more useful in the mobile world than 1 to 10 scales. Changing between open-ended questions and closed-ended questions also helps. Even think about working in a slider scale or 2.


Tip 2: Insert Some Lighter Language

Have some fun with survey language but don't overdo it. Those who take our Drive Research surveys know a few of the instances where we've used lighter language. We might add some fun sarcasm, a few lighter comments, or have some fun with an age question. At the end of the day if a survey respondent is reading questions more carefully to find a hidden nugget of humor, in our book, that's a win.

The important part is not overdoing it. If your respondents don't take your survey seriously, they might not report accurate data, skip questions, or think it's not important. That's the worst of all cases, but we find there is plenty of room to include some lighter language and friendly-up a survey.

For example, here is a question from our Syracuse Basketball survey:

Case in point.


Tip 3: Keep It Simple (Stupid)

Please don't include any overbearing and long text in your survey. If it doesn't pass the eye test and looks overwhelming to you, it will be 3 times worse for an actual participant. Try to write questions and answers as shortly and concisely as possible.

The quicker you can move the respondent through the survey, the better. Short text and short responses build momentum and keep the respondent moving along. Wondering if you should use a progress bar or not? Here's some more information.


Tip 4: Send Them Off on a Good Note

The thank you page at the end of a survey is often an after-thought. It's overlooked. It's the standard blah end page you use on all of your surveys isn't it? Here's another opportunity to further engage respondents and have them end their survey taking experience on a good note. We like to thank participants, invite them to join our panel, and tell them exactly how much cooler they are for taking our survey. To the decimal. Hey, we're accurate.


Contact our Market Research Firm

Drive Research is a market research firm located in Upstate New York. Our markets include areas such as Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany. We work with clients across the country to assist with their market research needs.

Questions about how we can help? You have 3 ways to reach a live human being.

  1. Email us at info@driveresearch.com (our team regularly checks this, believe it or not)
  2. Call us at 315-303-2040 (we're friendly)
  3. Message us on our website here

Online Surveys