How Valuable Are Shorter Introductions?

Part of survey research best practices is the idea of creating a survey that a respondent can open and complete as quickly as possible, with as little impact on their life as the researcher can manage. This is primarily because very few people are happy to fill out surveys. Most do it either for the incentive or out of boredom, and a survey that looks too complex or long is likely to cause major survey dropout. It’s important to keep this in mind when a researcher is creating a survey. One of the areas this is relevant is in how you write the introduction. Your survey introduction does play a surprising role in how attractive your survey is to your sample.

Why is the Introduction So Important?

Best practices indicate that your survey introduction needs to be as clear as possible so that your potential sample easily understands the purpose of the survey, how to complete it, when it’s due, etc. Here’s how to write a survey introduction.

Why are Shorter Survey Introductions Valuable?

  • Most Participants Won’t Read the Intro

The truth is that most participants know how to take surveys. They are unlikely to read the introduction or, at best, will skim it for anything that may be important to them. You do need a clear introduction, but you don’t need to go overboard with words or information.

  • Shorter is Always Better

The other issue – and possibly the most important one – is that once a user starts a survey they become considerably more likely to complete it. So your introduction needs to be designed to encourage people to simply click and get started. Short introductions provide this.

  • Complex Surveys Don’t Need Complex Introductions

Occasionally you may have a survey that’s complex, and you believe it needs a complex introduction. It likely doesn’t. If there is an aspect of your survey that is complex, chances are you can add it to the complex question. You don’t need to add it to the introduction, where respondents will probably skim over it anyway and those that read it will be less likely to click the start button.

The key thing to remember is that the faster your sample starts the survey, the more likely they are to complete it. So by avoiding unnecessary words and length in the introduction, and creating a short intro that leads directly into the survey (if you have an introduction at all, which you may not), you’ll improve your response rate considerably.

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