Screen your online survey respondents, but don’t disappoint
When conducting market research, not all of your online survey respondents will qualify to complete your survey. When developing your market research surveys, it is good practice to use screening questions to ensure respondents are relevant to your research. Not all survey respondents will qualify. Even the most advanced panel samples will contain some potential participants that do not meet your screening criteria. For example, if the topic of your research survey requires that respondents be female and employed full-time, most respondents will hopefully meet this requirement, but some unfortunately will not. Therefore, they will need to be screened out.
Being screened out is one of the complaints that survey respondents express. They are willing to share their time, opinions, and comments, but find themselves “not qualified” to take the online survey. To minimize respondents’ disappointment, it is important to recognize their efforts.
A simple way to do this is to create a thank you page (or thank you screen) specific to those respondents that are screened out. Respondents are automatically routed to this page when screened out. Be sure to recognize respondents’ time and efforts and that your organization values their efforts even though they did not complete the online survey. Alternatively, if you plan to offer an incentive for completed surveys, you may want to consider including all screened out respondents in an alternative prize drawing, discount offer, coupon, or other incentive. If this is the case, give respondents the option to complete contact questions. Contact information can be collected by adding additional questions to your screened out page. Or, redirect respondents with a new link to a contact form. You can easily create a contact form with survey software.
Here is an example of a ‘thank you’ message to screened out respondents:
We’re sorry. You do not meet the qualifications for this survey. We sincerely thank you and appreciate your time, dedication, and continued participation in our online surveys. As a thank you for sharing your time, we would like to invite you to enter an alternative prize drawing.
If respondents experience several instances of being screened out of an online survey, the likelihood they will complete future surveys diminishes. Offering even the smallest incentive can help retain survey respondents. Alternatively, if respondents express severally instances of being screened out, you may want to revisit the structure of your panel sample.
Remember: When it comes to survey research, your respondents are your most valuable resource!