Making the best brand decisions depends on getting the most accurate input from all relevant audiences—whether patients, caregivers, physicians, payers, or allied health professionals. In today’s multi-tasking world, however, it can be challenging to attract target segments to participate in healthcare studies—and even tougher to ensure they provide thoughtful, detailed responses.

To understand what motivates people to take surveys, SSI asks participants at the end of every project what they thought of the experience—and why. In analyzing 600 random responses, we discovered eight characteristics that respondents agree ensure a great survey experience.

IN RESEARCH, CASH IS NOT NECESSARILY KING!

If asked what makes respondents happy, most people would guess money or other tangible prizes. Only seven of our 600 respondents, however, mentioned rewards as a reason for their satisfaction—even though almost all received some compensation.

We often think we have to pay respondents to keep them contributing. To increase participation, however, it can be more important to understand respondents’ real motivators—the eight non-tangible rewards they identify as key in driving satisfaction.

1. EASE OF USE:

Of our 600 respondents, 93 said they like surveys that are easy. We often underestimate how cognitively difficult some surveys are. When we ask long, complex questions in a daunting format, such as a grid, it is hard work. People are willing to challenge themselves, but in the absence of live interviewers in the online world, we must remember to keep questionnaires simple.

2. RESPECT FOR THEIR TIME:

84 respondents included the words “quick,” “short,” or “fast” as a reason for being satisfied. When we think of physicians dealing with overloaded schedules, caregivers coping with 24/7 demands, and patients struggling with their conditions, it’s clear why we need to keep questionnaires focused and to the point.

3. RELEVANCE:

If we can make a connection between the person and the survey content, we are rewarded with enthusiasm. When research focuses on specific medical conditions, there is a natural relevance we can build on in our surveys. For example, in a world of social networking, taking a survey can be another avenue for people to connect with those facing the same issues. “It…would be interesting to know about others’ experiences in this area,” said one participant. Relevance can be reinforced by letting respondents know their participation can guide future R&D efforts—or offering a donation to a charity supporting those suffering with the same disease.

4. OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN:

Today, news and opinion-giving are closely linked. People expect to get information from online sources and give their feedback on what they read. When we ask people to share opinions, it seems natural to give them the opportunity to learn something at the same time. Many people mentioned this as a satisfaction driver. “I learned a few things about Healthcare Reform,” said one respondent. Providing new information about the disease state or issue being studied can go a long way to capture attention.

5. GOOD QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN AND NO TECHNICAL GLITCHES:

People know and appreciate a good survey. Positive comments include: “Really good graphics that loaded quickly,” “I liked how there were several choices listed, and you could choose more than one,” and “I liked that it was two parts, because it made it easier to keep focused.”

6. TIME TO PAUSE AND REFLECT:

Surveys give people a chance to reflect. The act of reporting what they think, do, and believe can lead people to change. For example, sharing their daily treatment routines may force people to realize they have been non-compliant with taking their medications or following doctors’ instructions—and that can lead them to change their behaviors.

7. A BREAK IN THE ROUTINE:

So many surveys are similar that participants get excited when we offer something different. Adding elements of “gamification” tied to behaviors we want to encourage—such as giving participants a time limit to complete a task—can keep people engaged.

8. FUN!

Many people mentioned “fun” as the reason for their satisfaction, and 28 used the word “love.” More people than we think “love” taking surveys! Following these 8 “rules” ensures a win-win. Brand managers gain the reliable information they need to make effective decisions—and respondents have positive research experiences that motivate participation in future studies.

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