As an industry, we understand little about why people take part in research and, perhaps more importantly, why they do not. We pride ourselves on being able to formulate questions and research studies to describe and explain the manner of consumer activities and behaviours. However, regarding the key issue of why people will not take part in research, we are hamstrung by our own methods – we simply cannot force someone to answer a survey who has no desire to participate in marketing research.
The more general use of online access panels to conduct research brings this question into sharp relief. Panels, by their nature, are made up of people willing and able to participate in research. If we do not learn from history regarding response rates, we may be forced to repeat them with online panels, with disastrous consequences. Therefore, we need to look to other disciplines to better understand this aspect of consumer behaviour and to adapt our industry where needed in order to increase response rates.
The decline of online response rates can be slowed with a dedicated effort to improve the respondent experience. By understanding the psychology of the online interview, researchers can present respondents with questionnaires that increase their satisfaction. Both the initial approach and the end of the interview must foster positive emotions by including words and phrases that encourage feelings of autonomy, competence, relatedness, and value. It is vital that the use of these forms of speech becomes second nature to researchers using online methodology.
The complete SSI White Paper can be downloaded here: SSI White Paper Understanding Respondent Motivation