Three Ways to Show Your Respondents That You Appreciate Them

Online panels are composed of highly opinionated people, and they have some opinions on their survey experience! Let’s take a look at three things that keep respondents happy and how to implement them in your next survey.

Make them Feel Special

You want people to be excited to take your survey, encourage this by expressing your appreciation for their participation. Using please and thank you is a small detail but will set the tone. Using phrases such as, “we want to know want you think”, and “your feedback will help with…”, will make people feel included. Be specific when possible how their input will help you.  Encouragement can go a long way with your respondents and will increase their engagement and reduce dropout rates.

Keep it Short  

Respondents are essentially providing you with a service, respect their time and attention. Long surveys are a frustration we hear quite often from survey takers. Keeping a survey short is easier said than done, watch out for these two things that cause a survey to creep up in length.

  1. Adding too many open ended questions. AYTM’s recommendation is to keep open ended questions to ⅓ of your total survey. Save them for when you need those deeper details and opinions that closed-ended questions won’t provide.
  1. Avoid asking three questions when one will do. Make sure each question in your survey will provide actionable data. If it doesn’t it probably needs to go. The most overused unnecessary question I’ve witnessed is, “is there anything else you want to tell us?” as the last question. Throw it out and thank them for their time instead!


Pro tip: A survey 5-10 minutes in length is optimal, but if your methodology requires a longer survey check in with respondents halfway or towards the end with a short message. It provides a touchstone and shows you appreciate their time and attention.

Stay Relevant

We often hear from survey takers, that their biggest complaint is spending minutes on a survey, only to then suddenly be screened out. Everyone places a high value on their time and survey takers are not the exception. It’s important to streamline your screening process and weed out unqualified respondents in the least amount of questions possible.

Another issue is not providing enough screening and frustrating respondents with questions they don’t believe apply to them. This could skew results and increase the dropout rate. Every question in your survey should apply to every respondent. In addition to proper screening, implement “other” and “none of the above” answer choices for questions that don’t provide an exhaustive list. You can also use skip logic, piping and branching to guide respondents through the survey so they only see questions that are relevant to them.

The Takeaway

Quantitative surveys are focused on the aggregate data, it’s boiled down to charts, percentages and the bottom line. It makes it easy to forget that people are the composition of that data. Incorporating any one (or all) of the suggestions in this article will increase respondent happiness which in turn provides with you high quality data.