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Hating on survey-gating

Jack Melton Bradley, research manager at Mustard, talks about his frustrations with online surveys and recommends better ways to get respondents engaged.  

Those who know me will often hear me say there’s nothing I find more interesting than reading the latest in depth comment and analysis from the Financial Times. Those who know me better will realise this is in fact a lie. It is, however, an important part of being a researcher. Being able to immerse myself fully in the world of our clients means I will occasionally be drawn to slightly higher brow sources of information. At least I would be if there wasn’t something blocking me from getting on the site…

 Survey-hating

Not pictured: 4th Option, Not Enough Pokémon Go Stops

What a clever way to gather information. To give you a taste of how useful this information can be, here are some of the recent answers I have given in order to access articles or sites:

  • I am a dog owner
  • I have not listened to any music in the last month
  • I have spent more time looking at make-up and fragrances than anything else in the last 2 weeks.
  • I am not a dog owner
  • I was born on the 1st January 1801

Top marks for anyone who guessed each of these responses was the first option in their respective surveys.

When respondents are anonymous, ensuring high quality responses is a challenge for online quant as a whole. This is doubly difficult when the survey acts as a barrier to the content users are actually trying to access. The trouble is, by default, respondents generally aren’t invested in the research. With ‘survey-gating’, the only incentive is to get past the survey as quickly as possible; therefore you’ve got to find ways to get people engaged. One of the most successful ways of doing this is to simply make things more fun! There are many ways we can do this and one of these is to apply a concept commonly referred to as gamification.

Gamification is a term that has emerged relatively recently; coined in 2002 by British game developer Nick Pelling. In its purest form it refers to using game-like interface design to make boring things fun, hard things easy etc. More broadly, it means applying game-like tasks and questions to research, and this is relevant to both qualitative and quantitative research.

So, in one corner we have gamification, designed to make answering questions more fun, more engaging and encourages the most reliable responses. In the other corner we have survey-gating, which presents research as an obstacle before you can get to what you actually want. The survey itself is a uniquely negative experience. Which do you think is going to provide the most reliable results? Please pick one of the answers below to access the rest of the article:

  • Gamification
  • Survey-gating
  • Not enough Pokémon Go Stops