The SECRET of INCREASING your Respondent Response Rate

Better Panel Management = Better Response Rates

Most often panel companies faces the arduous task of maintaining high response rates for their panel base. It is one of the critical aspects of running a successful online panel business. Although there isn’t any specific formula to help achieve higher response rates but some basic steps will help enhance the output. The article illustrates how you can yield better results from your access panels.

Top 5 steps for increasing response rates:

Step 1: Build a transparent incentive system.

We often overlook this obvious fact that people are participating in return of gifts/incentives provided. Many a times panel companies create a universal incentive system which is wrong as your panel base has different types of people (teens, moms, c-level executives etc.) with varied interests in terms of type of gifts they would prefer to receive. Your incentive system should incorporate different kinds of gifts catering to the varied audience in your panel base. Panel companies also do a serious mistake of incentive’s only on completion of a successful survey by a respondent – alternatively they should be rewarded for all the activities performed for e.g. completing their profile or participating in a survey (even if terminated or quota full). It is highly advisable to tie up with a leading gift certificate or monetizing company who are expert in incentive far more loyalty from their respondents which has a cascading effect on the response rates.

Step 2: Respect the time of your respondents.

Many a times due to high pressure of completing the fieldwork for a survey, sample managers send innumerable reminders to the targeted audience. It is very important to keep in mind that one of the biggest factors irritating a respondent will be a huge stack of survey participation requests. Some good panel companies have a “cool off” period where in after survey participation the respondents are not send any mails for a certain time period. It is a good way to avoid burning of your panel base. Ideally for a general population respondent base not more than 4 mails a month should be sent and for a high ranking C-Level executive it should be only once a month. If you respect the time of your respondents it is much appreciated. It is highly recommended to use panel management system like Confirmit ( or NEBU ( – wherein state of the art technologies are available for better management of your panels.

Step 3: A good mail delivery system is a MUST.

One of the biggest causes for a low response rate is that your survey participation requests are not reaching the target audience. The logic is very simple IF THEY DON’T RECEIVE IT THEY WONT PARTICIPATE IN. It may be due to various factors but having an effective mail delivery system overcome this shortcoming. Whether you want to get it build internally (due to security reasons) or use third party software is entirely your call. Getting it build internally though is a cost incurring option and there are lots of 3rd party software easily available which can help you delivers efficiently as well as effectively.

Step 4: Create AWESOME landing pages.

Even if a respondent has registered in your panel base – a bland / uninspiring survey participation request is quite often a great put off. The request should have an interesting title which will entice the respondent to participate. Also it is a must to clearly state what gift/incentive they will be receiving on participating in this survey. Best way will be to buy some exciting templates for your participation requests. These templates are not very costly and are created by experts. A minor point is that your email requests should be customized based on the target audience for e.g. a teen survey request can have vibrant colors whereas for a C-Level executive it will be more subtle and professional.

Step 5: Always show GRATITUDE.

No matter that we are giving gifts for participation we should not forget to express our gratitude to the respondents for taking out time and participating in your survey. Ideally all participation should be followed by a THANK YOU note and if possible (probably once a quarter) a callback for expressing your appreciation. This step always helps build a strong emotional attachment with the company and results in better response rates.


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About akshay kanyal
Understanding Survey Research

4 Responses to The SECRET of INCREASING your Respondent Response Rate

  1. monika says:

    post this to the old boys who are boring their respondents with green & white landing pages since eternity

  2. Mike says:

    Educate your participants.
    We overlook the fact that the intrinsic motivation is as high (or higher) than the extrinsic one.

    Show how participants make a differences and how and why their responses matter.
    It gives a sense of accomplishment.

    • akshay kanyal says:

      Thanks for the thought Mike!! well said..we are not much utilizing this important aspect of internal motivation to increase survey participation. Panel companies should educate the respondents as to how exactly their thoughts make a difference for the brands.

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