How can I encourage participation in a survey?


I am about to do a customer development survey, which will be promoted either via AdWords or via an email campaign (maybe both).

I did a few tests with AdWords ads and it seems like responses level is below what I anticipated. I am assuming this is because when people click link to the survey, they do not see what's in it for them to answer my 10 questions.

But because this is only a customer development survey with a goal to establish that my product has market potential, and because I am on a budget, I can't offer people who click anything in return immediately.

I said that if they reply, and leave their email, they will receive an alert once (if) the product is about to hit the retailers, to get it at a low promo price. But this seems to be too indefinite. And it really is, because there is no guarantee that survey will prove that the product can be marketed, and that it will ever be manufactured.

Also I was thinking I might use some cause to encourage participation, e.g. "help the community of whatever by participating in this survey" but this sounds even more weak and not real.

I would appreciate any constructive ideas.

Market Research Survey

asked Sep 28 '12 at 08:42
Mvbl Fst
144 points
  • This post by Lars Lofgren could get you thinking [The 5 Best Ways to Get Feedback from Your Customers]( "The 5 Best Ways to Get Feedback from Your Customers") Though it says `Feedback`, it applies to pretty all kinds of `Survey`s – Th3an0maly 11 years ago
  • I think if you provide more details about the type of question you're trying to answer, we might be able to provide better feedback. While you are thinking about the research question "how do I get more surveys", as you can see from the answers you already have, we will be able to help you much better if you ask "how can I get an answer to this business question"? – Jonathan 11 years ago

6 Answers


Surveys suck and nobody really likes to answer them, not even you.

If the "goal to establish that my product has market potential" then you might also need to consider other avenues to reach that critical objective. I imagine the reason you're wondering if there's a market for your product is that there's nothing on the market that looks like your product? If your product is a B2B offering, how difficult would it be to find 10 potential future buyers and sit down with them for 15-20 minutes? And if it's for consumers, how difficult would it be to find 30 random people to talk to by just walking into a Starbucks? Instead of focusing on quantity with a large-scale online survey, focus on the quality of the feedback: talk to a few people, in person. Tech is for what people can't do better. Good luck.

answered Sep 28 '12 at 15:14
4,166 points
  • The key point in this answer is "How hard would it be to find 10 potential future buyers?" If you're having problems finding potential buyers (or survey form filler outers) then you need to reconsider the size of your future market. Try to find a small number of people you can talk to one-on-one (buy them lunch or coffee or a drink) and get their feedback, watch their facial expressions and listen to the tone in their answers. Many entrepreneurs are way too optimistic about how excited the market's going to be for their product. – Chris Gerken 11 years ago
  • Hi @frenchie, thanks for the reply. Definitely it is a lot easier to sit down with potential customers, in fact, if it's only a dozen of them. But I am not sure if this would be as convincing. For example, if I get a couple hundred replies in a survey, which is more or less enough from statistical point of view, a dozen face to face conversations seems too low of a number. – Mvbl Fst 11 years ago
  • If I were sitting down for a pitch as an investor, I'd say that seeing a survey of 100 people who just clicked some answers on an online survey would actually be LESS convincing than having a dozen testimonials that I can call and talk to. What do you think? And if you think it's easy to sit down and talk with potential customers, people you have no previous connection to, then why not do it, even if it's just with one person? I think you'll learn a ton more with face-to-face meetings than with a large-scale survey, especially if you're looking to validate your business. Quantity or quality? – Frenchie 11 years ago


Free gifts always work in surveys , or use content locker for this purpose. User always do it.

answered Sep 30 '12 at 02:21
Sara Foster
21 points


Agree totally with frenchie Survey Sucks and Nobody Likes Them.

But I think you can give some user a prize and attract them to fill the survey. While promoting your product ad a line "Daily a lucky winner will get movie ticket( or any cheap prize)". For sure the response will improve. No one hates the free stuff.

Also I would suggest get some live user if your product is developed. Show them the product ask them to use it and take the live feedback. Talk to them directly.

But believe me that prize stuff will definitely work. Just put the keywords in the proper place and check it.

answered Sep 28 '12 at 19:04
121 points


Offer free gift to some people who does the survey.

answered Sep 28 '12 at 20:13
Mladen Adamović
11 points


I think you really need to give us some more details if you want an effective answer.

Since you are putting a survey behind a Google ad, I will assume that you are interested in learning more about a particular segment of the world that is already searching for something. Since you are apparently not satisfied knowing just that they have clicked on the ad (validating that demand exists), I assume you want to know more details about who are the people who clicked on the ad. The people who clicked on the ad, presumably wanting a thing or service, are not interested in taking a survey.

I would propose, based on my assumptions, that you continue down the adwords campaign, but direct customers to a special landing page advertising the apparent product or service, offering a quote or pamphlet to potential customers who supply their phone number or email address, a common scenario in b2b SW sales. Having hopefully obtained some responses by having a more clear "what's in it for me" for the customer to leave some information, you can directly call these people to interview them and understand whatever it is you wanted to learn.

You should, by the way, have some sort of a pamphlet/offering to back this up. These people may become your earlyvangelists, and you don't want to violate their trust and alienate them this early in the process! During or after your interview, disclose the fact that your product is not ready to launch, and you can give them a pamphlet describing your current plans and intentions and ask them for feedback. If they ask you how soon they can buy it then you know you've got a winner.

answered Sep 29 '12 at 08:46
111 points
  • Thanks for reply, @Jonathan. FYI the ad clearly stated in the title that it's a survey, to make sure users know what to expect. But overall I see your point, it might have been an inconvenience to them. And also I realized later on that landing page did not contain anything other than the survey itself, which obviously did not win any trust either. Will try to incorporate your suggestions in the new attempt. – Mvbl Fst 11 years ago


Why don't you try Amazon Mechanical Turk? It's very often used for surveys. Here's are some links of people using it for surveys.

answered Sep 30 '12 at 07:26
121 points

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