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When is the best time to give survey incentives - before or after?

This article, from Survey Methods, is a thoughtful view on the timing for survey incentives. We share this view and thank them for publishing it. Incentives are easily the driving force behind getting your customers to supply you with feedback. While in an idea marketing world you would be able to get a large enough sample without any incentive investment, the truth is that only by offering something that attracts participants can you hope to receive the number of responses you hope to receive. One of the more interesting ways to use incentives is by using a pre-survey incentive. Pre-survey incentives give the incentive to the potential respondent before they have taken the survey, for example giving everyone in your sample a Starbucks gift card and then asking them to take your survey. This method has several benefits and weaknesses that may make it a worthwhile choice for the survey you decide to run. Benefits of a Pre-Survey Incentive The primary benefit of the pre-survey incentive is that it seems to work. Evidence has shown that this way of incentivizing your potential sample tends to get even greater results than providing an even better incentive upon survey completion instead. Since getting a good sample is an important part of research, this is clearly a considerable benefit. In addition, a pre-survey incentive may be a potential marketing tool, in the sense that everyone that receives the pre-survey incentive is going to think positively about your company, even if they don’t fill out the survey. On the other hand, a post-survey incentive is likely to have no effect on how the customer views your company, and may even have a negative effect if the individual feels they’ve been hassled. Weaknesses of a Pre-Survey Incentive Although there are several benefits to a post-survey incentive, there are weaknesses as well. Its biggest weakness is financial investment. It’s possible (although unlikely) that zero people can fill out the survey, and yet each one will still receive whatever incentive you provided for them. Even in the best case scenario, where over 50% of the respondents fill out the survey, you are still giving incentives to the remaining 50% that did not. That is a considerable investment. In addition, a pre-survey incentive is more likely to get your survey noticed. While in general that’s good for your business, it does mean that your presentation and language need to be flawless. Any flaw in the way you present yourself is going to be scrutinized. Using Incentives It doesn’t matter how perfect your survey is or how relevant the data. Without incentives, you are not going to get the respondents you need to truly analyze the population. It’s important to put some thought into how you want to run incentives, as the method you are used to using may not be the most effective. Virtual Incentives provides solutions that help market research participants connect with participants in ways never before possible. Thanks to our industry-leading, customizable Virtual Visa® Reward card, you can determine the best time to administer your incentives and recipients can spend rewards where they want – online wherever Visa is accepted. They can even deposit them directly to a bank account. Can we help you with your next survey incentive program – before or after?

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