The key to a great consumer research is crafting a great survey. However, a great survey is not only about asking the right questions – it also depends on the way you present the questions and the overall survey experience. A great survey experience can ensure thoughtful, accurate responses. However, a lacklustre experience can result in survey fatigue for your respondents.
What is survey fatigue?
Survey fatigue (or respondent fatigue) is a phenomenon where respondents can become tired or disinterested in taking surveys. This can happen if they are overwhelmed, bored, or overloaded by the number of surveys they are asked to answer.
The aim of surveys is to gather thoughtful, accurate information from respondents. Respondents with survey fatigue can often give incomplete or incorrect responses (or even drop off from the survey altogether), which can affect the quality of the survey results.
Why do respondents undergo survey fatigue?
While survey fatigue can happen for a variety of reasons, here are some of the most common factors:
Length of the survey: The average attention span of an adult is just 8 seconds. This means that if questions take more than 8 seconds to answer, people are likely to start to lose interest. For example, if you create a survey with 20 questions that take 30 seconds to answer on average, respondents might drop off as they might find it too long to complete.
Frequency of the survey: Too much of the same thing can become tedious to do. If people are asked to take too many surveys, they're likely to start to feel bombarded with them and become less likely to participate. For example, if you send out a survey every week, people may start to feel like they're being spammed and they may be less likely to open the surveys or to complete them.
Repetitive content: People are more likely to get bored and lose interest if they're asked the same questions over and over again. For example, if a survey asks people to rate their satisfaction with a product on a scale of 1 to 10, and then asks them to rate how happy they were with the product on a scale of 1 to 5, respondents are more likely to just give the same answer to both questions. This can lead to inaccurate results.
Complex language and structure: A survey with a complex structure or complicated terminology is likely to frustrate respondents, especially if they can’t understand its meaning in the first few tries. For example, if a survey uses a lot of jargon or technical terms specific to an industry, people may not understand the questions and they may be more likely to give up or give inaccurate answers due to their lack of understanding.
How can you bypass survey fatigue?
Tip #1: Choose the right audience
When you are choosing the respondents for your survey, make sure you pick the right audience. Choosing respondents that align with the theme of your survey will ensure that you get accurate and thoughtful answers. They are also likely to feel more motivated to complete the survey and will look forward to or answer more surveys for you in the future.
Tip #2: Keep it short and to the point
To avoid survey fatigue, it's important to design concise and focused surveys. Long-winded surveys and questions are likely to bore or frustrate respondents who might then drop off. To avoid this, prioritize the most critical questions that directly align with your research objectives and remove any unnecessary or repetitive ones.
Your survey questions also need to be clear, simple and to the point. Having long-winded questions with complex jargon or technical terms could confuse respondents. Keeping your surveys brief and to the point ensures that you respect your participants' time and can increase the likelihood of receiving thoughtful and accurate answers.
Tip #3: Use clear and simple language
The language you use in your survey plays a significant role in preventing survey fatigue. Clear and straightforward language ensures that respondents understand the questions and can provide meaningful responses. Avoid using ambiguous phrasing or double-barreled questions that combine multiple inquiries into one. Such questions can confuse participants and lead to inaccurate or incomplete data. Simplify the vocabulary and sentence structure, using words and terms that are familiar to your target audience. By using simple language, you create a more positive survey experience, encouraging respondents to engage fully with your questions.
Tip #4: Limit the frequency of your surveys
Frequent survey requests can quickly overwhelm your audience and contribute to survey fatigue. Bombarding respondents with surveys on a regular basis may lead to decreased participation rates or even unsubscribing from your survey list. Instead, be considerate of your respondents' time and the value of their feedback. Prioritize quality over quantity and only send surveys when you have a clear objective and actionable insights to gain. By spacing out your surveys and respecting your participants' time, you create a more conducive environment for meaningful responses and long-term engagement.
Tip #5: Offer skip logic
Skip logic is a powerful tool to personalize the survey experience and reduce survey fatigue. With skip logic, you can tailor the survey path based on respondents' previous answers, directing them to relevant questions while bypassing irrelevant ones. By avoiding questions that are not applicable to certain respondents, you show that you value their time and opinions. This targeted approach keeps the survey focused and engaging, making respondents more willing to provide accurate and thoughtful responses.
Tip #6: Use progress indicators
Progress indicators are a simple yet effective way to alleviate survey fatigue. They show respondents how far they have progressed through the survey, providing a sense of accomplishment and an estimate of the remaining time commitment. Progress indicators create a feeling of control for respondents, knowing that the end is in sight. This transparency encourages respondents to continue and complete the survey, as they can see that their effort is valued and that they are making steady progress.
Tip #7: Use visuals to support the text
Adding visuals to your survey can improve your users’ overall survey experience and make it more engaging. Visual elements can include images, videos, or charts to help illustrate complex concepts or product features.
Using visuals in your survey can break the monotony of text-based surveys and make them more appealing to respondents. However, ensure that the visuals you use are relevant and do not distract from the main purpose of the survey. Using a balance of text and visuals will ensure that your survey remains easy to navigate and answer.
Tip #8: Use open-ended questions
One way to get your respondents enthusiastic about answering your survey is by asking them about their thoughts on your product. By doing this, you can get in-depth and unbiased insights into your product and allow them to feel a greater sense of responsibility and contribution while answering your questions.
However, beware of using too many of these questions in one survey and try to limit them to only 1-2, or your respondents could feel that it’s getting too long and drop off.
Tip #9: Design your survey to be responsive
With most people preferring to use mobile devices in their daily lives, it is important to ensure that all digital interactions with customers, including surveys, are mobile-compatible. Having a survey that is unresponsive or badly designed for a mobile screen (even if it looks great on the desktop) can lead to frustration and survey fatigue. Designing a responsive survey that easily adapts to different screen sizes and devices will ensure that respondents can easily interact with the survey on any platform. By providing a seamless and user-friendly experience across various devices, you can cater to a broader audience and encourage higher response rates.
Tip #10: Test your survey before launch
Before releasing your survey to the wider audience, conduct thorough testing to identify and rectify any issues that could lead to survey fatigue. Test the survey's functionality, flow, and appearance on different devices and browsers. Seek feedback from a small sample of respondents or colleagues to ensure that the survey is clear, user-friendly, and error-free. Testing helps you spot potential problems and make necessary improvements, ensuring that the survey runs smoothly and effectively for all participants.
Tip #11: Offer incentives
Incentives can be a powerful motivator to combat survey fatigue and increase response rates. Offer a meaningful reward, such as a discount, gift card, or entry into a prize draw, to encourage participation. Incentives show that you value your respondents' time and effort in providing feedback. However, be cautious not to make incentives the primary focus of the survey, as this could lead to biased responses. Incentives should be a token of appreciation rather than the sole reason for participating.
Tip #12: Express your gratitude
A simple "thank you" can go a long way in creating a positive survey experience. Expressing gratitude at the end of the survey shows respondents that you value their input and acknowledges the time and effort they invested. A genuine and sincere appreciation helps to leave a positive impression and encourages respondents to participate in future surveys. Gratitude fosters goodwill between you and your audience, building trust and loyalty.
Tip #13: Offer follow-up communication
After completing the survey, consider offering follow-up communication to respondents. For example, you could share key insights or survey findings with them. This feedback loop provides closure and demonstrates that their input was valuable and contributed to meaningful outcomes. It also reinforces the idea that you care about their opinions and fosters a sense of community and collaboration. Follow-up communication can increase engagement and motivation for future surveys as respondents see the impact of their feedback.
By recognizing the signs of survey fatigue and understanding its underlying causes, you can take steps to optimize your surveys and engage your respondents effectively. Remember, simplicity, clarity, and empathy are the key elements to combat survey fatigue and ensure your surveys generate valuable data and insights.
So, the next time you're gearing up to conduct a survey, take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of your respondents. Craft surveys that respect their time and effort, and make each question count. By doing so, you'll not only combat survey fatigue but also foster a deeper connection with your audience, leading to more meaningful and fruitful research outcomes.