With declining market research participation, response rates and quality - one of the biggest challenges facing research today is inspiring respondents to even take your survey.

However, we routinely see completion rates in the range of 80-95% & we’ve pulled the know how to achieve this into a detailed 4 part series to ensure you achieve high engagement & completion rates for all your survey situations - and hopefully provide some inspiration for other methodologies as well!

Part 1 – Finding, understanding & motivating respondents

The key to success starts with first understanding what motivates your respondents, depending on who they are and where you find them. Some may be driven by a direct monetary reward, whilst for others there will also be passion or a strong desire to make their voice heard that can be tapped to encourage completion.

1. Existing customers & community

You’ll benefit from already engaged users, lower incentives, and higher completion rates. On the other hand, be aware of biases, which may or not be an issue depending what you’re looking to achieve.


Existing customers & your community are already engaged with your product/brand or topic and we’ve seen amazing response rates with vouchers and brand related goodies. You will also find many open to motivations such as exposure (Kudos), and directly contributing to the development of new products etc.

Considerations & typical completion rates

We see brands that offer vouchers relating to their own products save on average 80% of the cost a direct incentive. Respondents can be invited one of two ways:

  • Opt in: Your video survey link (See example)is shared directly to social media or through an email campaign. Whilst quick and easy to set up, just be aware that you may need to cap responses if setting up an incentive scheme
  • 2-step process: for a little more control over your survey respondents, set up your first email / social media post to link to a screener. The results of this you then use to contact your perfect respondents and expect 85% completion rates.

2. Panels & 3rd party communities

The global panel industry is well established, and most are open to video surveys on an opt in basis. These are great when you need to reach out to specific markets anywhere in the world with relatively little hassle. Research Now, GMI, Survey Monkey Audience are cost effective, worldwide and open to video usage.


Panelists are rewarded small payments / vouchers or points for surveys – usually attributed to the time to complete that survey takes i.e. $0.20 - $2 per minute. Due to this, raising the complexity of a survey or task increases the drop-off / non-completion as there is low reward for additio l time investment.

Considerations & typical completion rates

Panels are great for larger projects, as the costs decrease with scale. Generally there is a scripting & project management fee ($1000 +) plus an incentive per respondent ($5+).

  • Panels tend to experience lower engagement - expect between 25% - 40% completion from panellists meeting your screener criteria, so recruit more respondents than your need to ensure results.
  • Increased incentives are strongly associated with better completion rates, and where possible, suggest an incentive 50% - 100% higher than a traditional written survey in order to overcome barriers.
  • We have also found the ability to offer an additional reward for highly engaging responses results in better quality of results

Also consider niche panels, such as youth panels YouthSight & Student Edge. These often experience higher engagement due to the focus and we’ve experiences average completion rates of +40%.

3. Qualitative recruitment

Recruiters such as Stable Research & Farron Research are not dissimilar from panels in that they have a pool of existing respondents they reach out to. Recruiters contact individuals one by one usually by phone, and as a result they experience significantly higher completion rates averaging +75% (and often 100%) for participants meeting the survey criteria.


Recruited (or “qualitative”) groups tend to have expectations of a higher reward, but also expect to give a greater and more focused response. These panels are typically used to recruit people for focus groups, and longitudinal studies over many days.

Considerations & typical completion rates

Recruiters are a good choice for higher profile / harder to reach respondents such as Doctors, Lawyers & Bankers, or multi day & heavy task based projects where a lot more engagement is needed.

  • Due to the higher expectations and additional personalisation, respondents come at a much greater cost – usually $100+ per person, and they are generally state / country specific rather than global.
  • We offer a panel integration & education service – if you have a preferred supplier ask them to get in touch for your survey and we’ll work with them to get you the best response rates.

4. Internal / employees / teams & stakeholders.

While your own people are the easiest groups to find, they’re not necessarily the easiest group to motivate. You still need to find a compelling way to engage your colleagues; simply being told by management to take part isn’t usually enough.


Existing relationships will definitely help - but the reasons for participation still needs to be clearly communicated. Motivations can be tied to a direct reward such as a competition, however the workplace provides many non-monetary motivations such as kudos, education, philanthropy and success.

Considerations & typical completion rates

We generally see high completion rates for stakeholder feedback – between 30 - 95% with an average around 60%. The very best surveys mix non-monetary rewards with a voucher / prize and usually share out the best content, publically thanking participants.

  • Use a recognisable leader to pave the way and provide an example video to kick things off. Participation will usually reach a tipping point, where everyone collectively gets involved – this has the huge benefit of boosting employee engagement too.
  • Companies using Verbate for internal feedback include brands like Mirvac, Westpac, AWS & Fujitsu. Video is often added to an existing survey as the last "why" question.

5. Public & event intercept

When you are after specific feedback or content revolving around a time and place such as commuters, shoppers or event attendants – on location surveys can be incredibly powerful, and are surprisingly cost effective to run.


Corporate and industry events are usually organised around sharing expertise or raising awareness on topics that are meaningful to the attendees – so tap into this engagement and use it to drive your response rates around events.

On the other hand, commuters are more likely to be swayed with a free coffee, in store shoppers with vouchers or movie tickets, and festival goers with a prize draw.

Considerations & typical completion rates

The best intercepts we’ve seen use outgoing, friendly promo staff to do the approach & filming like Mash Marketing. From over 100 intercepts, experience tells us that around 80% of people agree to be filmed – of which 100% respondJ

6. High Net Worth Individuals:

Notoriously difficult to get hold of, though creative (and costly) approaches do exist. Money they have, so something exclusive or unique is a must. For example offering a race day in an exclusive new car or with a recognisable driver - in return for sitting through the survey or group session beforehand.

Another approach is to relate to a cause the HNW is passionate about, or something else intangible. Vinnies used Verbate to collect a video diary at their CEO sleepout, asking CEO's to explain why it was important to take part. The results were a 30% response rate from a very time poor and difficult to reach demographic.


That all communication, from the first touch point, will impact willingness to complete your survey so retain a constant friendly, fun and supportive demeanour throughout.

Upcoming blogs in the series

Thanks for checking out the first of our blogs on hitting 70% completion rates! We will be publishing the remaining 3 in the next 1-2 months, so please check your in-box :)