5 Ways of preventing questionnaire fatigue

If you are one of the many companies using online surveys to keep up with consumer trends, it’s important that you are aware of questionnaire fatigue and the different ways to prevent it. With the number of surveys increasing every year, it is key to your success that you make sure you are not wasting your time or marketing budget on collecting data that’s irrelevant.

Customer research has become a vital addition to any B2B and B2C marketing toolkit. Successful companies everywhere are developing their business strategies – with the aid of customer data – to make marketing decisions which subsequently drive business growth.

questionnaire fatigue
Ways to identify and prevent questionnaire fatigue

There are a lot of surveys that don’t manage to collect useful data because they have not managed to keep the respondents interested and have ended up causing questionnaire fatigue. This can lead to the skewing of the results as the questions have not been answered honestly or have been rushed through without being read properly.

For these reasons, it is vital to begin by understanding the potential issues so that you can do everything you can to prevent questionnaire fatigue.

What is questionnaire fatigue?

If you ask your respondents to answer surveys that are too long or that contain irrelevant questions, you run the risk of them becoming tired and uninterested in the task at hand. This will result in a decline in the quality of the data they provide and the possibility of negative brand perceptions – this is called survey or questionnaire fatigue!

For data to be useful to you, you need it to make your surveys engaging so that respondents give you their honest opinion. These five tips will guide you through building and sending a survey that people are interested in and that they are pleased to contribute to. Ok, let’s get going…

Top tips for preventing questionnaire fatigue

Tip #1 – Don’t survey too often

To prevent questionnaire fatigue, don’t overdo the surveying. Keep track of the surveys that your company is conducting, especially if more than one department are sending them. If respondents get multiple requests for surveys from the same company, on the same day, it would have a negative impact. Set up a schedule and manage it centrally from a master account. A multi-user management system will mean that the surveys sent out do not clash and people are not contacted too often, avoiding survey fatigue.

Tip #2 – Manage expectations  

Communicate effectively with your target audience. Respondents should be provided with background information about the survey and how their responses will be used in order to set their expectations. Spell out the purpose of the questionnaire clearly, the expected length, the number of questions, and the privacy policy of the company. Reporting your results at the end of your survey and sharing what actions you have taken, based on the data you collected, will show your respondents that they have made an impact by taking part.

Tip #3 – Make your questions relevant

Make it as easy as possible to answer the questionnaire. The questions asked should be as relevant as possible, remember to remain focused and only ask questions that will help you achieve your survey goals. Using skip logic and page jumping tools, in order to bypass questions that are not relevant to a respondent, will help you reduce questionnaire fatigue. There is nothing more irritating than being asked to answer something that does not apply to you. By using skip logic, you will be able to reduce the length of your survey and make it quicker to complete.

Tip #4 – Eliminate unsuitable questions

Try to ask appropriate questions that don’t invade people’s privacy. If you feel certain questions are not needed, you should eliminate them. Maintain a clear structure that’s easy to navigate through, if you need to ask difficult questions, it’s advisable to include a ‘prefer not to answer’ option so that people don’t abandon your survey if they feel uncomfortable answering.

Tip #5 – Test your surveys

To prevent questionnaire fatigue, survey designers should put themselves into their intended respondents’ shoes to help make questionnaires as relevant and non- fatiguing as possible. Test your survey before sending to make sure everything is working correctly, you don’t want to have to edit a live survey if you can help it. Conducting a pilot test, to a small portion of your audience, can be useful. This should bring any problems or issues to light before sending it to your entire contact list.

Banishing questionnaire fatigue for good!

If you have a clear objective in mind for your survey and you are sending it to the right target audience, it shouldn’t be difficult to avoid questionnaire fatigue. Take the time to build a well-designed survey and test it thoroughly before sending. Read our blog on 7 tips to help you design an online questionnaire or access our expertly written help guides in the SmartSurvey Knowledge Base if you have any questions about creating online surveys.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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