My Theory on Declining Response Rates


It’s quite simple.
MANY research companies — You can’t answer everyone’s surveys
Increasing survey lengths — Who has a spare hour?
Boring surveys — grid after grid after grid
Old fashioned surveys — Hello… it’s 2009. Have you seen the wicked cool options that are available?
Competition — Facebook or survey, Twitter or survey, YouTube or survey, FAMILY or survey
Sensitive surveys — Why is it now ok to ask about the most intimate details of a person’s life
Marketing speak — Com’on now, my gum chewing needs? get serious.
Bad + bad + bad + bad = more and more and more annoyances = more and more and more people just giving up
What do we do?
We spend more money on recruitment. We spend more money quicker. We spend money gaining the trust of people who will get frustrated and leave. We DON’T spend money maintaining the trust of people who have decided they do want to trust us. I think there is a cardinal rule of business that it is cheaper to retain good customers than to recruit new ones.
The solution, though simple, is long term. Let’s improve surveys. Shorten them, improve the quality, make them real. The most incredible thing is that we already know how to do this. Over time, people will begin to see the change. They will start to appreciate marketing research surveys again. A new generation of responders will see what we are offering and choose to be a part of it. It always feels good to know that you’ve made an important contribution. It feels even better when that contribution was fun to make.
Greece seems to have turtles at every archeological site, we called them guard turtles. Let’s hire guard turtles at every MR agency and put them in charge of guarding against surveys that don’t promote responder engagement. That would be fun!

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    4 responses

    1. […] made an important contribution. It feels even better when that contribution was fun to make. Annie Pettit This entry was written by Mike and posted on July 5, 2009 at 10:49 pm and filed under Quote. […]

    2. Also: get designers in, or learn design principles, to make surveys look good.

      1. @Alison: Hallelujah!

    3. Could not agree with you more. Great blog!

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