Employers concerned about the response rates associated with your employee surveys should take note of this helpful article from On-The-Same-Page that defines ten variables that can affect employee response and survey validity.
The pop star diva can teach survey authors and researchers a lot about how to be successful.
Both are evolving from a public persona perspective.
Once upon a time in the 1990s, MC was fairly one-dimensional insofar as her portrayed persona and public perception is concerned. It was all derived by a Mouse-driven culture. Not any more. She's clearly changing her game to try to reach a broader, more diversified audience.
The same is true for survey tools. When they first came out, they were simple data collection tools primarily used by PC-based survey authors (another kind of mouse-driven culture). Now, surveys need to address the needs of not only the survey author, but of their community of interest including other survey authors, respondents in a variety of online and offline contexts, consumers of survey results, auditors concerned about data privacy/recoverability, and the next generation of survey authors who will take over the surveys created by the current generation of survey authors.
Both dress up differently, depending upon where they are appearing.
MC's style materializes differently depending upon where she is going to present herself. She has a public brand that consumers have come to expect (or brace for impact) and a private sense of style that is appropriate when she's keeping a low profile.
The same is true for how surveys materialize. Many public-facing surveys need to contain all the fully-branded visual elements (company logos, company website URLs and custom confirmation pages) that ensure the survey consumer that they are using the real thing. In contrast, some surveys can have a minimal sense of style suitable for the "just get it done" less formal, private contexts such as behind the walls of an institution, a working group of collaborators or researchers.
Both are being broadcast and distributed via social networks.
MC's escapades are often some of most-tweeted and re-posted topics online. Her success is embellished by and depends upon the easily accessible and connected economy that is the social fabric of today's Internet.
The success of a web survey can also be enhanced by the ease of distribution via the Internet and, more precisely, via social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Google+, Pinterest or Tumblr. It also doesn't hurt to enable smartphones to a web survey via a scan-able QR code.
Both are striving for maximum exposure.
Getting MC exposed to the masses, so to speak, requires an appreciation for and understanding of how information flows to get in front of people. The Internet reigns supreme in this regard for immediacy and reach into places where Internet-enabled devices exist. Where the Internet is non-existent or inaccessible by the intended recipient there are always the tried-and-true form factors of print, face-to-face conversations and phone calls.
While web surveys are all the rage, they aren't the end-all. Sometimes the only way a surveyor can reach the person they need to hear from is via a legacy (and surprisingly pervasive) form factor other than the Internet. Successful surveyors need to consider how to support offline means of collecting survey responses.
Both are thriving on recipient feedback.
MC is an attention-grabbing phenom. She lives or dies, career-wise, to the degree that she gets feedback (good or bad) from the target audience of people with whom she wants to connect. She and her handlers collect and respect feedback from a variety of channels.
Likewise, surveys only succeed to the degree that they collect and accurately measure the response to the questions being asked of the target audience. Successful survey instruments must have baked-in support for rating and ranking questions as well as the ability to capture the occasional tome from a respondent. Surveyors need to be able to coalesce all of their collected responses, regardless of how they are recorded (e.g., web, offline, paper), into a single, unified set of data from which to view and analyze the results. Those results should then be quickly and easily assembled by the survey author into a consumable report for decision-makers and others who need to be informed in their community of interest.
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When making plans to create and distribute your survey, here are five things to keep in mind.
Clearly State the Purpose
Let's face it, if a respondent can't figure out in a few sentences what the objective of your survey is and how they can contribute, then they are less likely to respond. Being forthright in your cover letter/email and initial instructions as to why you are conducting the survey and how the results will be used is important.
Include a Direct Appeal for Participation
It's subtle, but an important point that can easily be overlooked is how you appeal to the respondent to participate in your survey. The cover letter or email that accompanies with your survey questionnaire can have a big influence in response rates. Specifically, research indicates that it is a good idea to include a sentence or two specifically asking for the respondent's participation citing the importance of their helpful input in achieving the objectives of the survey (i.e., improving a product, process, work environment, etc.). Doing so appeals to the respondent's sense of being a helpful contributor when called upon to participate.
For surveys that are not compulsory for the respondent to complete, it's common sense that providing incentives generally results in better response rates. As a rule of thumb, research indicates that the larger the incentive, the larger the response rate. Consider offering a raffle drawing prize or perhaps an incentive for the first 50 respondents. Managing your incentives in this way also means that you don't have to spend a fortune on incentive rewards. Also, it is important for the respondent to actually believe that your survey is credible and that the incentive reward will actually be given. Providing instructions to the respondent that include an email address with your organization's email domain name (i.e., yourcompany.com) or some other means of contact (a phone number or mailing address) can often provide the necessary impression that your survey is legitimate.
Set Time Expectations
Surveys that take less time to complete typically result in better response rates. Review the objectives of your survey and keep only those questions that are essential in achieving your objective. Including a statement in your cover letter or initial instructions that the survey should take, for example, no more than five minutes to complete can positively influence a respondent to participate. You will want to, of course, have several people take the survey before widely distributing it to make sure that your claim of five minutes is accurate.
Fine Tune Your Survey by Getting Feedback in Advance of Wide Distribution
It's a good idea to distribute your survey to a small set of people (preferably accessible colleagues or constituents) who actually complete the survey before you send it out to a broader audience. You can then follow-up with these respondents via a phone call or email asking them if their experience with the survey was difficult or confusing in any area. This provides an opportunity to collect feedback from actual respondents and make fine tuning adjustments to any confusing or hard parts in the survey. Sometimes rewriting a question or adding specific choices makes all the difference. This vetting process produces dividends because you can have a better confidence in your survey when you send it out to a broader set of respondents.
As the author of SurveyGold, it's my pleasure to serve and collaborate with the diverse community of SurveyGold survey authors, surveyors and respondents.