A survey incentive, in the simplest terms, is a reward for participating in a survey. If you’ve ever taken an online survey, you’ve probably wondered how the company collecting feedback can afford to give away an Amazon gift card, or a coupon for free pizza, it’s all thanks to surveying incentives.

Survey incentives are usually offered in exchange for completed surveys. They work by encouraging people to participate in surveys so that companies can collect valuable data and improve their products/services.

Survey incentives are often used by companies who are looking for feedback from their customers or potential customers. This post will discuss the concept of survey incentives, the types, and the advantages and disadvantages.

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What Is a Survey Incentive?

A survey incentive is a reward offered to study participants for completing surveys. It can be useful in cases where you need a higher response rate from your audience, or if you have other reasons to motivate participants to complete your survey.

Surveys can be tricky because you want people to take them, but you also don’t want to waste their time so incentives are one way to address this conflict because it says to the participants that “Yes, this will take a few minutes of your time, but here’s something that will make it worth it.” And then you can use the results of that survey to improve your products and services, which in the long run can save your customers even more time and money.

Incentives can come in many different forms, including money, gift cards, discounts, or even entries into sweepstakes. According to research, surveys with incentives can see their respondents increase by as much as 40%.

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Five (5) Pros of Using Survey Incentives

  1. Survey incentives increase response rates – In general, when you offer an incentive to complete a survey, the response rate will increase.
  2. Survey incentives can help you get more specific insights – When people have a reason to answer your survey, they’ll be more specific and provide quality answers that can help you build a better product or service.
  3. Survey incentives can help you collect higher quality data – Survey incentives are an excellent way to increase the quality of the data you collect while also increasing the number of responses you receive.
  4. Survey incentives make surveys fun – Adding an element of fun to your surveys is a great way to get your respondents engaged and excited about answering each question within the research activity.
  5. Survey incentives give respondents something back – You benefit from having respondents complete your survey, so it’s only fair that they benefit too.

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Five (5) Cons of Survey Incentives

  1. People might answer in an attempt to get the incentive rather than honestly – some respondents may be tempted to answer questions in an attempt to get the incentive, rather than being honest and truthful.
  2. The incentive might influence people’s decisions – if your survey doesn’t offer any kind of incentive, then people’s decision to participate or not is purely based on their desire to help you with your research. However, once you offer an incentive, their decision becomes more complicated. Now, they are weighing the effort it will take to complete the survey against the value of the incentive you’re offering.
  3. You have to budget for them – if you are running a small-scale project for a class or for your own use, then you probably don’t have much money available in your budget for incentives. At this point, it is more practical for you not to use incentives at all.
  4. You need to decide what type of incentive to use – there are several types of incentives that you can use, from cash payments through gift cards, vouchers, and even charity donations. This means that you need to do some research and figure out which type of incentive works best for your target audience.
  5. Opportunity for survey bias: The people motivated by money or gifts, may easily leave only positive feedback. This will rob you of negative feedback borne out of other experiences that may help your business improve.

Explore: Survey Research: Types, Examples & Methods

Types of Survey Incentive Ideas

Incentives can vary widely and come in many forms: they can be physical items like free samples of new products or monetary rewards such as gift cards. The most common types of survey incentives include:

  • Coupons/Discounts – these are small rewards offered for taking part in an online survey. Coupons are typically used when companies want to gather demographic information about their customers’ habits and preferences without spending too much money on advertising campaigns. The coupons themselves may not necessarily increase sales but provide valuable insight into what customers want from products/services being sold by the company running the survey campaign.
  • Monetary value – this type of incentive is used when companies want to get some information about their customers’ habits or preferences without spending too much money on advertising campaigns. 
  • Sweepstakes entries: If you want to offer an incentive but don’t have anything specific in mind, consider entering every respondent into sweepstakes drawing instead. This approach helps increase response rates without committing to an actual monetary value.
  • Social recognition: People love to be recognized for their hard work and contributions. One way to provide this is by posting the results of your survey on social media. You may also want to feature customers who contributed a great deal to the survey in some way. This builds your brand’s reputation as well as improves customer loyalty at the same time!
  • Free download: If you want to make your surveys more appealing, you may want to consider offering a free download as an incentive. This can be anything from an ebook or white paper to a software program or coupon code for a discount on a product or service. Whatever you choose should be relevant and enhance their experience in taking the survey.
  • Free Samples: Free samples are another popular incentive that can help increase the number of people responding to your survey. They typically come in two forms: physical and virtual (or digital). Physical samples might include things like stickers, magnets, keychains, etc., while digital samples would include things like eBooks or white papers, or free courses which can all be downloaded immediately after.

Read: Pilot Survey: Definition, Importance + [ Question Examples]

Prepaid vs Promised Incentives

There are two main types of incentives that you can offer: prepaid and promised. 

  1. Prepaid Incentives: Prepaid incentives are paid for before the survey is started. They work by offering a discount on a product or service in exchange for taking the survey (e.g., “Take our 3-minute survey and get $5 off your next purchase.”).
  2. Promised Incentives: Promised incentives work by first asking customers to take the survey, then giving them an incentive once they’ve completed it (e.g., “Complete our 2-minute survey and receive a free gift card.”). 

Both types of incentives have their own pros and cons as prepaid incentives are often more effective when it comes to driving higher engagement rates and retention rates. They also provide participants with an immediate reward which means they’re more likely to continue with your survey right away, rather than putting it off until later. 

The downside is that prepaid incentives are also more expensive than promised incentives. You’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with the budget before launching your survey with prepaid incentives in place.

Promised incentives grant more flexibility than prepaid incentives because they allow participants to choose how they want to receive their reward. A promised incentive means that the participant only gets paid if they successfully complete the survey and fulfill all requirements.


Survey incentives are important because they’re one of the most important ways to convince a potential survey participant to actually fill out your survey. It’s a way to let them know you value their time and appreciate their help.

Also, incentives can be a great way to get more responses to your survey, especially if you’re targeting busy people.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 6 min read


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