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Using Creative Incentives to Increase Panel Engagement



By Jonathan Price

The end goal of any good market research project is easy: garner actionable insights that can advise successful business decisions. Getting there is the hard part. Researchers must have high respondent completion and response rates and, in order to get the right data, the respondent must be engaged. This piece of the puzzle can sometimes fit perfectly in place when appealing to the respondent with just the right incentive. Having the right incentive, at the right time, can have a huge positive impact on engagement, response and appeal.

In the past, many research companies relied on one type of reward for research respondents. Many times, the same reward over and over causes target audiences to lose interest. In addition, as companies expand and possibly shift product offerings across multiple consumer and business audiences, a single type of reward loses its panache.

There are many ways that companies can create better experiences for research participants through the use of incentives. Some things to keep in mind when creating an incentive program include:

  • Choice: Make the reward compelling by offering respondents a myriad of reward types to fit their lifestyle and needs. A single reward type can result not only in additional hard costs as companies try to motivate respondents with increasingly large rewards, but could also bias results and adversely affect data.
  • Immediacy: Create an instant reward delivery platform so respondents don’t have to wait for their incentive. Having an automatic streamlined delivery process can free up time for turning research data into actionable insights and take less time troubleshooting incentives.
  • Partner Technology: Consider using an integrated API (application program interface) that allows the automatic delivery and fulfillment of rewards. By creating the right partnership with a company that specializes in incentive delivery, one-click can accomplish a complete solution.
  • Customization: Not all market research is created equal. It’s important to make sure that each incentive program fits the client, the study, the desired sample and more. Thinking ahead with careful planning can help with developing creative new ideas for incentive fulfillment and types of offerings. This approach promises to bolster the upward trend in quality response rates and keep panelists continually engaged.

Matt Thurston, COO of icanmakeitbetter, recently partnered with incentive solution company Virtual Incentives for his company’s respondent rewards program. Thurston stated, “As we expanded we worried that a single reward type could cause response rates to become stagnant. By working with a company that specializes in incentives we were able to get creative, develop new products and make a streamlined reward process. For us, this has increased response rates and saved our staff and our clients’ time.”

Thurston stated that in the year icanmakeitbetter has been working on providing incentives through this new partnership, he’s seen response rates improve considerably and membership attrition rates cut in half. This equals a high rate of return for his clients and, in the end, gives a more complete data picture.

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4 responses to “Using Creative Incentives to Increase Panel Engagement

  1. Jonathan,
    Perhaps you could add the caveat that in some niche areas no incentive is needed. For example, in the area of B2B customer satisfaction surveys we pose up to 60 questions and statements and achieve an average worldwide response rate of over 70%.

  2. Most of my experience has been conducting research among employees. Response and attrition rates are always my big fear when doing survey type research within an organization setting. Not every employee will see the benefit of participation and will not have an interest to opine or fill out instruments. Moreso if the general employee engagement levels are low due to the organizational cultural environment. I always advice my clients that they most have some form of incentive in mind to foster high respondents engagement in this context. I take the point from the article that creative incentives most vary by type of participant and research. Great Article.

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