Maximizing Research Response Rates - (Archived)

An ever-present challenge in market research is maximizing survey response rates. In fact, voicemails, caller id, gatekeepers and spam blockers are so pervasive, that it’s common for the response rate to be less than 10 percent of the study’s sample size. Here are some must-haves for achieving an adequate population of completed surveys.

  • A Quality List: Optimally, the list is 5 to 10 times larger than the reasonable sample size established for the study, is tightly aligned to the target audience, includes names and titles, and has been recently cleaned and updated.
  • Well-Prepared Interviewers: Even highly experienced interviewers must be trained for each and every study. It’s critical they have a solid understanding of the study’s purpose, the content they’re attempting to collect, industry-unique terms and acronyms, and so forth. They should also know how to effectively respond to anticipated questions folks may ask before agreeing to participate, including how their contact information was obtained and for whom the research is being conducted (which can’t be revealed in blind studies).
  • A Persuasive but Brief Intro: What interviewers say in their introduction,?? and how they say it,?? is essential to getting the cooperation of potential respondents. They must succinctly convey the purpose of the study and how long the interview is likely to take as well as pose screener questions to ensure the person meets the target audience parameters. At the same time, they must quickly establish a rapport and trust level with the person. Appropriately using the person’s name and referencing their job function helps, as does assuring the person that their identity will remain anonymous in the research reports. (In some cases, interviewers may even need to summarize the research firm’s established anonymity and confidentiality policies and processes.)
  • A Pursuit for Referrals: Interviewers must know how to unobtrusively request replacement names when they are not able to complete an interview with the original contact on the list. This includes asking the original contact if that person doesn’t fit the target audience requirements, or asking the gatekeeper if the original contact is no longer with the organization.

Ask probing questions within each of these areas when you’re evaluating research firms, as their ability to maximize response rates will directly affect the success and cost of your study.


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