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Survey Fatigue: How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Learn how to combat survey fatigue and keep your audience engaged with these effective strategies.

There are many advantages for businesses when it comes to conducting surveys. You can use surveys to collect data, find weak points in your operations, and determine if you're taking adequate care of your customers. All you need to do is send your customers a link to your online surveys and encourage them to participate.

People who respond to surveys typically do so because they want their voice heard by your business. However, they can also experience survey fatigue if your surveys aren’t engaging. When respondents get tired of answering the questions, they're likely to engage in survey abandonment and ruin your survey efforts.

If a respondent experiences survey fatigue, they leave incomplete information that can't be used. This is why creating engaging surveys that aren't too long and contain relevant questions for your target audience is so important.

Surveys are a great way to gather customer feedback, but you have to keep your audience engaged. Read on to learn more about how to avoid survey fatigue so you can receive high-quality data from your respondents.

What is survey fatigue?

Survey fatigue refers to the lack of motivation someone experiences when filling out a survey. With survey fatigue, the user gets tired of answering questions and is likely to abandon the survey before it's finished.

There are various reasons why someone may experience survey fatigue, like if they're asked questions that are too complex or receive multiple survey requests one after another.

A survey participant is most likely to experience survey fatigue after reaching the halfway point. With survey fatigue, the respondent feels as if the survey can’t be completed in a reasonable amount of time and starts rushing through the rest of the answers. Or the participant may abandon the survey altogether.

Survey fatigue occurs when your respondent becomes bored or uninterested in the survey. This can either cause you to receive incomplete or insufficient answers, neither of which provides you with the feedback you need.

Types of survey fatigue

There are two main types of survey fatigue. One is the feeling of fatigue upon seeing a survey request, and the other is experienced when you're actually answering the survey questions.

Pre-response survey fatigue

People respond to survey requests because they enjoy sharing their opinion, want to give feedback about their experience, or feel like they can make a difference for other customers.

Unfortunately, surveys are often sent out constantly to anyone who agrees to participate. This can result in dread or fatigue when respondents see a link for an online survey in their email, otherwise known as pre-response survey fatigue.

A respondent may feel a sense of obligation to click the link but doesn't look forward to actually participating in the survey. This causes them to put less effort into their responses or click their way through the survey without thinking, providing you with insufficient data.

Survey-taking fatigue

Survey-taking fatigue happens when the respondent loses interest in the survey at around the halfway point. They may experience survey fatigue for various reasons, such as being asked too many questions or including complex questions they cannot easily answer.

This, coupled with the fact that surveys don't always have a "quit and come back later to finish" option, results in the respondent mentally checking out or quitting the survey altogether. In turn, you get poor-quality data or incomplete surveys with information that's useless.

What causes survey fatigue?

There are various causes of survey fatigue, including:

  • Lengthy surveys: One of the main causes of survey fatigue is lengthy surveys that take too much time to complete. The respondent wants to be able to get in, respond, then finish and move on with their day. Lengthy surveys make the respondent feel trapped and look for a way out.
  • Repetitive questions: Asking repetitive questions in your survey is one way to cause survey fatigue. Make sure you include a variety of questions to keep your respondents engaged.
  • Complex language: Complex language will confuse your participants and cause them to click away. Remember to keep the questions simple and avoid using complex language the respondent may not grasp. Surveys are supposed to be interesting but not challenging.
  • Survey frequency: It's crucial to limit the number of surveys you send. Most people don't mind responding to survey requests, but if you send out too many surveys in a short period of time, they'll feel obligated to respond when they don't want to.
  • Inadequate incentives: Another cause of survey fatigue is a weak incentive or no incentive at all. Respondents will typically expect some type of incentive for completing the survey, such as a promotion or discount code. A survey without a reward usually results in the respondents feeling like they're wasting their time and effort and will readily engage in survey abandonment.

Consequences of survey fatigue

Respondents who experience survey fatigue tend to provide poor survey responses with no depth or context or simply abandon the survey-taking process before it's completed.

The respondent also is less likely to return for future surveys and is more likely to have a negative perception of the business that sent out the survey. Meanwhile, you're left with low data quality that's not very useful or informative and doesn't contribute to your marketing and analytical efforts.

Chances are you've put a lot of work into your survey and want the best possible results. You can achieve this by not overwhelming your respondents and making it as easy as possible for them to complete the survey-taking process.

How to combat survey fatigue

Combating survey fatigue requires using best practices that don't wear out the respondent. That means keeping the survey short, asking clear questions, and offering incentives for the respondent.

The following tips can help you avoid survey fatigue from your respondents:

Shorten your survey length

The survey length depends on the subject matter, but generally, you want to keep them to about 10 minutes. This helps the respondent stay fresh and willing as the survey progresses. A status bar also helps avoid survey fatigue because the respondent knows how close they are to the finish.

Avoid asking repetitive questions

Some survey research methods encourage asking the same question in different ways to determine the truthfulness of the respondent. However, this can cause the respondent to get tired of answering the same question multiple times and feel like they're not making progress. This results in survey fatigue along with survey abandonment.

Keep your questions relevant

Make sure that the questions you're asking are related to the main topic of the survey. While you may want to ask a few demographic survey questions initially, try to get to the relevant questions as quickly as possible.

Including irrelevant questions can result in the respondent abandoning the survey or filling out incomplete answers. AI writing tools can help you create survey questions related to the topic so you can overcome survey fatigue.

Use simple language

Resist the urge to use large words or industry jargon as the survey questions are worked out. You're better off with a plain language explanation, even if it takes up more screen space than you would like.

Respondents have to think about their response, and they're more likely to get worn out if they have to put a lot of effort into something that's not supposed to take up a lot of their time.

Decrease survey frequency

Surveys are a great source of information, but if you're sending them out too frequently, you're most likely reducing the quality of the response from survey respondents. You can poll your customers to find out how frequently they'd like to take a survey in order to find the best time interval for all respondents.

Offer incentives

Offering incentives to complete the survey can help you combat survey fatigue. People are more likely to engage with the survey if there's a benefit to pushing through and putting in their best answers.

Incentives can include a free trial period, a discount code, or a trial extension. The goal is to provide the respondents with something exciting they cannot receive unless they complete the survey.

Prevent survey fatigue and keep your audience engaged with quality surveys

Learning how to avoid survey fatigue doesn't have to be a trial-and-error process when you use these best practices during your survey design process. Instead, you can create a survey that keeps the respondent engaged from start to finish and delivers high-quality data as a result.

The data you collect from surveys help you create consumer profiles, determine your ideal demographic, and get customer opinions on how the business is doing.

At Mailchimp, we can help you create free online surveys that engage your customers and prevent survey fatigue from setting in. We can also help you grow your audience, create effective marketing campaigns, and track website metrics to learn more about who's looking at your website.

You can access all these things and more with Mailchimp's free resource library and marketing tools that show you how to map your path to success.

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