Using persuasion principles to boost survey responses

The Persuasion Report


Using persuasion principles to boost survey responses
By Mark Tosczak • Issue #12 • View online
2 minute read
I took a little break to dig out of a pile of work. But we are back in action this week with daily behavioral science insights for marketers and leaders.

Using persuasion principles to boost survey responses
The British government wanted to boost response rates to their surveys (because surveys are important tools for developing effective policy). Low response rates make those surveys less informative.
Researchers used a 16-minute-long telephone survey that addressed some 7,000 small businesses. They evaluated four approaches to boosting response rates:
  • A simplified version of the control message
  • A message that used social norms
  • A message that used reciprocity
  • A message that used a prior commitment
Two of the approaches — reciprocity and prior commitment — led to statistically significant increases in response rates.
A randomized evaluation found that almost 52% of businesses that received the messages reminding them of their commitment to participate in the survey responded by completing the survey, while roughly 46% of those receiving the original message completed it (a 5.5 percentage point increase).
Of businesses that received reciprocity messages reminding them of the benefit they had received from the scheme, 50% participated (a 4 percentage point increase in response rate).
Besides the fact that reciprocity and prior commitment had the highest impact, this project also highlights the value of thinking through how you’ll motivate people to respond even in something as elementary as a survey.
In upcoming issues:
  • Will Clubhouse be another addictive social media network?
  • Using humor to rebuild trust and reconnect with coworkers
  • What incentives motivate people to get the COVID vaccine?
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Mark Tosczak

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