8.1. Use of incentives and reminders to improve response rates
As mentioned above, reminders are an important means of improving response rates in self-administered surveys. A personal reminder is likely to be more effective than a more general public one. Providing an incentive to participate in the survey to those already selected to participate can also encourage return of a questionnaire and hence may have some beneficial effect on response rates.
In telephone surveys call-backs are easy to arrange. Sending repeat emails is also straightforward. In an online web-based survey, as in self-selected survey samples generally, it is the more motivated who will respond to a general call for participation and these may well coincide with those who have more extreme opinions or experiences to report. Therefore reminders are important to try to overcome the bias which this creates, by involving some of those who are less inclined to participate but who may be more representative of the population as a whole. Box 9 gives an example.
Box 9. The
Scottish surveys: use of reminders and incentives.
In the last few annual surveys of beekeepers, a well-known commercial supplier of beekeeping equipment has willingly provided a generous voucher to be awarded to the winner of a prize draw at the end of the deadline specified for return of the questionnaire. The winner was randomly selected from the list of questionnaire numbers returned by that deadline. The winning number was matched to the identifying short reference number for that participant, and the details were sent to the SBA membership convenor. The convenor identified and contacted the winner, and contacted the commercial company to arrange for the sending of the prize to the winner. The winner was asked what details they would be willing to have published in the SBA’s monthly publication for members, for example, information such as “The winner of the £50 voucher kindly offered by Company A as a prize to the successful participant in the SBA 2010 survey lives in Argyll”), hence giving some publicity to Company A.