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12 Strategies to Reduce Survey Dropout


Are people quitting your online surveys before they finish? Surveys are invaluable tools for gathering data, but survey dropout can be a significant challenge for researchers and organizations seeking meaningful insights. 

What is Survey Dropout?

Survey dropout, also known as survey dropoff, is the percentage of respondents who started a survey but did not complete it - they abandoned the survey before completion or termination. This can be due to various factors, such as lack of interest, survey fatigue, language issues, or technical difficulties. 

Why is Survey Dropout Important?

A high dropout rate limits the amount of data you can collect within your study’s timeframe. This is especially problematic for low-incidence surveys on niche topics where researchers will have to screen a greater number of respondents to find enough eligible participants to replace those who have dropped out.

How to Reduce Survey Dropout

You can reduce survey abandonment by using strategies that encourage participants to stay engaged throughout the survey process. This will help ensure the data collection process produces accurate and comprehensive results.

1. Hook Respondents Right Away

Survey dropoff can start as early as your first question, so the first few moments of a survey are critical. Start with an attention-grabbing introduction to pique their interest and ask easy questions first to create a sense of accomplishment right out of the gate. 

2. Gamify Your Survey

Elements of gamification can significantly contribute to maintaining respondent interest and reducing survey dropout. You can captivate your audience and keep them engaged throughout the survey by incorporating game-like elements such as rewards, challenges, exciting visuals, and interactive features. 

3. Use Interactive Questions

Use interactive question formats throughout your survey, such as sliders, ranking, and the inclusion of images or video. These dynamic elements make survey questions more engaging and motivate respondents to continue. 

4. Avoid Repetitiveness

To avoid repetitiveness, which can frustrate respondents and increase dropout rates, ask a colleague or third party to review your questionnaire and point out any perceived redundancies. Be sure to diversify your question types and avoid long loops as much as possible. 

5. Be Thoughtful About Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are valuable but can be challenging. Using too many early in the survey can set a tone to expect a lengthy LOI, plus they’re difficult to answer on mobile devices.

6. Reduce Long Lists

Long lists of items or options can overwhelm respondents. Minimize extensive lists by breaking them down or using a range limit to reduce frustration and cognitive load. 

7. Minimize Requests for Sensitive or Unnecessary Information

Only request information essential to your study. Avoid intrusive questions, especially at the beginning of the survey when respondents are most likely to drop out. 

8. Optimize for Mobile

Follow best practices to optimize mobile surveys to ensure your respondents have a positive experience. Simple things, like larger tap-friendly buttons, can go a long way toward reducing your dropout rate for mobile users. 

9. Shorten the Length of Interview (LOI)

Many studies have shown that longer surveys tend to have higher dropout rates. When designing your questionnaire, consider reducing the LOI to make the study more appealing and maximize the attention span of your respondents. 

10. Test for Technical Issues

Unsurprisingly, technical issues can also be a root cause of survey abandonment. If a respondent encounters an issue such as a broken page, bad redirect, or missing video, they may have no choice but to drop out and abandon the survey. Be sure to test everything before fielding your survey

11. Optimize for Fast Loading

A fast-loading survey provides a better user experience. Latency issues, even half a second, can lose people. If there is a delay or lag in your survey loading time, respondents may become frustrated or impatient, leading them to drop out of the survey altogether. 

12. Offer Incentives That Motivate Respondents

Offering incentives that genuinely motivate respondents can improve participation and reduce dropout. Make sure the incentive is clear. When respondents know they will receive a reward or benefit for completing a survey, they are more likely to follow through to the end.

Reduce Your Dropout Rates With IntelliSurvey

Survey dropout is a significant challenge for researchers and organizations collecting data through online surveys. By partnering with IntelliSurvey, you can leverage our market research expertise to reduce respondent dropout rates and ensure you obtain accurate, reliable data from your study. For more information on how we can work together, please get in touch

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