Practically everyone likes to win something. Think about it, Opera and Ellen have entire shows dedicated to attendees winning various goods/services (and everyone loves to watch)! Through my years of working in the market research industry, I’ve been told countless times by research participants that they are so excited and surprised when they win a sweepstakes from an online survey or see the payoff from participating in a focus group.
If you’re considering market research then you might also be wondering how much to spend on rewards for participants. Rewards for research vary based on several different factors (e.g., type of research, length of research, audience, industry, etc.). Overall, rewards are certainly not “one size fits all”. For example, you wouldn’t offer $100 to each participant for completing a 2 minute survey sent to 10,000 contacts via email. If your survey had a low response rate, say 1%, you’d still be looking at $10,000 in rewards. This type of incentive would be much better fit for a 2 hour focus group for each participant.
Remember - Rewards entice participation.
In the market research industry, we have several rules to live by when it comes to offering rewards for research. Learn more below.
Rule 1: The Golden Rule
There should be some type of reward offered to research participants. You will be able to get the project completed without offering a reward but it helps draw in those "fence sitters" to entice participation. Here are a few market research reward options to consider for your next project:
- A raffle for tickets or an experience-based gift
- A sweepstakes for a gift card (e.g. Visa)
- Earning points to receive a reward of choice (typically found in online panel research)
As discussed previously, there is a time and place for each type of reward. Raffles, sweepstakes, and earning points are most effective for enticing short survey completes. Higher rewards should be considered for online surveys that are longer than 15 minutes, or the researcher could consider a different methodology all together (perhaps in-depth interviews or IDIs). For a typical 3 to 5 minute online survey to general consumers reached through social media, Drive Research may recommend a raffle for 1 of 5 $50 Visa gift cards.
Cash is a common reward for IDIs, focus groups, mystery shopping, and in-home usage tests. Amounts vary based on several factors (i.e., length of research, level of decision-maker, etc.). Count on shelling out more for a busy business leader, say $150 for an hour of their time during business hours, than a general consumer, say $50 for an hour of their time after business hours.
Rule 2: Entice Completes
The decision to offer or not offer rewards usually comes down to this – rewards entice completes. If offering a reward means you will get 100 completes instead of 30, this increases data reliability to base your future decision-making off of (which is why you are conducting research in the first place). If you are going to conduct market research, you should set yourself up to get a higher number completes by offering a reward.
Rule 3: Know Some Cannot Accept
When there are rules, there are always exceptions. Trying to get feedback from professionals in a B2B setting? Remember that not all may be able to accept a reward whether it’s cash or a gift. It may be best to pitch your market research as helping a greater good or sharing valuable feedback rather than a payment for their time.
Rule 4: Offer Chance to Donate
What an awesome way to offer a chance to give back! This can be used as your reward or as an option to winners. For example, if your reward is a $50 Visa gift card, you could offer the option to donate the amount to a charity of the winner’s choice. This type of reward could also be useful when thinking of creative ways to entice professionals to participate in your research.
Share the good news!
Rule 5: Spread Awareness of Winners
So you have decided what you plan to offer as a reward for your research, conducted the research, and you are ready to pick the lucky winners. Personally, after participating in research that offers me a sweepstakes entry, I always wonder who wins or if the winners have been chosen yet. Once the winners have accepted, consider spreading awareness that they have been picked through social media or similar outlets.
The example above is from a recent project at Drive Research. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to keep up with our latest winners and options to participate in paid market research projects.
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Drive Research is driven to use data to fuel better decision making. Thinking about conducting research and looking for more tips from the market research pros? All you have to do is ask!
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