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Does it seem like your survey completion rate is stuck at the same level, and you’re not sure why? You’re not the only one facing this problem. In truth, most people don’t have time to fill out surveys. Unless… they get something in return. Here is where survey incentives come into play.

This ultimate guide will give you 11 great incentive ideas that are both affordable and engaging.

Here's what you need to know. 📚

Table of contents

What are survey incentives?

Most people have probably taken a survey at some point in their lives, whether for a school project or market research. Even though surveys can be valuable tools for gathering information, getting people to complete them can be exhausting.

In this case, survey incentives can come to your rescue. 🛟

Survey incentives are rewards offered to people in exchange for taking the time to fill out a survey.

The most common type of incentive is simply offering coupons, discounts, a chance to win a prize, or even cash. Whatever the promised incentive, the goal is the same: to convince people to complete the survey.

The pros and cons of using survey incentives

Whenever you see a sign that says "Win a free iPad!" next to a customer satisfaction survey, you might be reminded of the scene from Friends when Phoebe shouts, “My eyes, my eyes!”. 

my eyes gif from friends

If not implemented well, incentives might come across as desperate. In some cases, it might even look like some kind of scam.

So, is offering survey incentives worth the effort?

Survey incentives: Pros 

✅ Encourage the completion of the survey

Research has shown that offering an incentive can increase the likelihood of completing any surveys by as much as 30%. And it applies to microsurveys as well as custom made well-developed research surveys.

✅ Motivate participants in the final push

Survey incentives are beneficial near the end of data collection periods when boosting average survey response rates is necessary.

Survey incentives: Cons 

⛔️Attracting reward seekers

Survey incentives may draw people who are not well suited to fill out the questions or those who would only answer if rewarded.

⛔️Skewed survey results

It’s possible for survey respondents to provide inaccurate information just to get the survey incentive, which can lead to data integrity issues.

⛔More difficult to track responses

Identifying and tracking participants and their rewards is crucial when offering survey incentives. This can be challenging if you’re not using an automated online survey platform.

Tip! For even more tracking, you can integrate Survicate with Google Analytics. Survicate automates the entire process of gathering customer data via email or built-in surveys. It also offers expert-designed survey templates that you can implement in a flash.

How to use survey incentives to get the best data

Initially, survey incentives may seem more disadvantageous than beneficial.  

However, a lot of businesses still use them as a way to increase response rates. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Who wouldn't be tempted by the chance to get something for free?

So, how can you design the best survey incentives to minimize these flaws as much as possible?

Start by figuring out if you need an incentive

Survey rewards aren't always necessary. In some cases, you may find that the average survey response rate is already quite high, and there's no tangible benefit to providing incentives.

Choose the right types of survey incentives

The best incentive depends on your survey demographic and goals. For example, if you're targeting a younger audience, a reward like digital downloads or gift cards might be more effective than handing out cash.

On the other hand, if your survey focuses on a corporate target audience, it might be better to offer incentives such as discounts or free consultations.

Provide a clear how-to manual

You should introduce the incentive offer within the survey and explain how to redeem the reward in plain and precise language. 

Make the incentive relevant

The best survey incentives are those that tie into your survey topic. For example, if you're surveying customers about a new product launch, offering discounts on that product as an incentive might be a great way to get more detailed feedback.

Choose your timing carefully

Offering rewards too soon can lead to respondents giving quick, unconsidered answers. On the other hand, giving out perks too late can make users feel like it's not worth the effort.

Determine the value of the incentive

Consider the cost of the incentive and whether it’s worth the potential loss in revenue when compared to what you are gaining in sales. Weigh other options, such as offering free shipping or a rewards program to gain new customers. 

Survey incentive ideas

With the right survey incentive ideas, you'll be able to gain a great deal more insight and encourage more survey takers. 

Get inspired by incentive ideas your respondents won't be able to resist. 🎁

#1 Coupons

Provide a percentage coupon or discount in exchange for survey completion. People who redeem these offers are more likely to become repeat customers, increasing brand loyalty and revenue.

This monetary incentive works particularly well for retailers and e-commerce sites. For example, you can offer a 10% discount for the next purchase to users that completed the survey. As every dollar counts these days, you can be sure that many respondents will take part.

#2 Loyalty programs

The great thing about loyalty programs is that they give customers something to keep coming back for. The more surveys they complete and the more purchases they make, the bigger the rewards and loyalty points they will gain.

Tip! Millennials are 14 times more likely to use their smartphone than their computer to access loyalty programs. That’s why it’s so important to design a loyalty program that is seamlessly accessible from mobile devices.

#3 Extended trial subscriptions

This is one of our favorite non-monetary incentives because it’s affordable and easy to implement.

A message such as “Take a survey and get two weeks more of free access to our product" could go a long way toward boosting response rates. 

This approach offers valuable rewards for both sides: users get more time to test your product while you receive their invaluable feedback. What’s more, it costs you next to nothing. And you may end up converting the testers into actual users.

#4 Gift cards

A gift card is a great way to reward people for taking your survey. You can offer Amazon, Starbucks, or other gift cards for the respondents' time and effort. No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win. Your customers can use these cards to buy whatever they like, and you’ll still get the feedback you need.

Tip! Make it more unique by providing digital gift cards and codes. They are stored online, which makes them easier to keep track of and manage.

#5 Access to special features or products

Another great way to incentivize respondents is by offering them access to special features or products that they usually wouldn’t have otherwise. 

For example, if you run a SaaS company, you could grant them exclusive access to your newly released features. Or, if you're an e-commerce business, you could offer some of your limited-edition products.

As a result of these non-monetary survey incentives, you will gain valuable insight into your business as well as feedback about the new products you have just launched.

You can also increase the perceived value of your product by letting your users see what features they can enjoy even before they buy them.

#6 Sweepstake entries for bigger prizes 

Sweepstake entries can also help create a buzz in the market as people share the news and encourage their friends to take part. Additionally, it’s much easier to track and measure success when compared to other incentives such as loyalty programs.

However, you need to be aware of the local sweepstake laws, so be sure to check them before you design a program.

#7 Freebies such as samples or downloads

Sample product packs, digital downloads, and other types of freebies are great incentives for survey respondents. A reward of this type is especially useful for businesses that target tech-savvy customers, i.e. people such as gamers or software developers.

Freebies, including exclusive downloads or digital content that can’t be found anywhere else, can also be used to drive more engagement with your brand. 

Survey participants will feel valued and appreciated for their input if you provide incentives tailored to their preferences. It might also encourage them to provide more detailed and thought-out responses. 

#8 Referral rewards

You can also offer referral rewards that can be used instead of discounts and other perks when respondents complete surveys.

As a bonus, it helps to spread the word about your surveys and gives you access to a broader audience. 

It's also easy to track and measure the referral rewards so you can check it’s all going as intended. 

#9 Early access to the product or service

Giving your users an early access to your product or service is a particularly good idea when the survey you run is about the product or service in question. 

Offering early access in return for survey completion will encourage participation and provide you with valuable feedback before the product or service is released.

And, remember: having something that no one else has access to creates a sense of exclusivity. 

Tip! Help your survey respondents feel like insiders. Make them feel as if they were taking part in a test phase.

#10 Donations to a charity

There are people who don't respond well to cash incentives. They associate it with negative connotations and find it suspicious. 

In this case, you should consider charitable donations. As a result, your participants will be glad they contributed to a good cause.

The amount you contribute doesn’t necessarily have to be large—even small sums can make a difference. 

#11 Access to exclusive events

Offering users access to exclusive events if they fill out your survey is another way to incentivize participation. This could include anything from early-bird tickets, VIP passes, or access to webinars or contests. 

This way, you can reward your most loyal participants and demonstrate your appreciation. Aside from feeling special, they will also have an unforgettable experience. 

Plus, it will give them a chance to mingle with other survey participants and get to know each other on a more personal level. It can be an excellent way to foster relationships and build a stronger community of respondents. 

To sum up

So, there you have it—our top survey incentive ideas to help get your survey responses rolling in.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a fortune to offer great incentives. Whether you choose non-monetary or monetary incentives, there are many creative and affordable alternatives so you can pick what works best for your target audience and your budget.

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