Respondent engagement has been on the decline for the last several years. It is something widely known in the industry but is rarely talked about. The problem is that it should be.
The overall problem doesn’t just have one cause, though. It is a combination of several issues that are leading to declining respondent engagement. So, what are some of the issues?
The conversion rate of an average panel is between 5% and 15%, at best. When you consider that the average open-rate of an email is around 10-20%, this doesn’t sound that bad. Looking at it from a different angle, it means that almost 90% of respondents sent the survey don’t qualify or term out, but are sent the invite anyways, you can start to understand why engagement is down. It’s like getting an invite to 10 parties, only to be told nine times that you aren’t who the host wants and to hit the pavement.
This is probably one of the biggest pain points with respondents. Currently, most panel incentives are based on completed surveys. That means only a small fraction of the people who participate qualify. This is especially frustrating during long surveys where respondents can spend 10 to 20 minutes answering questions, only to term out near the end, and get nothing. This leaves a bad taste in a respondent’s mouth and makes them less likely to participate in another survey.
This issue ties into how surveys are being designed and the process respondents must go through to access and/or take a survey. Three-quarters of all respondents are dissatisfied with their survey experience. Reasons for this include survey length, surveys too complicated to access, or not designed to be device agnostic, and much more.
This problem is a bit double-edged. When a respondent has an unpleasant experience taking a survey, whether it is survey design, incentives, lack of qualification, etc., this can lead them to leave a panel. When you take this into account with panelist tenure, it is the newer panelists that this is more likely to happen with. As the newer panelists leave, long-tenured (some may say jaded) panelist are the only ones left. Even if this group qualifies for a survey, they are more selective in the ones they participate in. Without the steady, consistent influence of newer panelists, a panel becomes stale and the data they can provide becomes less valuable.
Respondent engagement has a lot of issues that lead to the overall problem, but what can be done about it? Check out part 2 of our blog series next week to discover some potential solutions.
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