Every great survey design requires responses from the respondents. Because your well-thought-out survey would mean nothing if you can’t find your target survey respondents to provide the answers and insights you need.

Finding survey respondents can be challenging due to time constraints, however, this post provides the viable options you can consider when scouting for survey audiences.

What are Survey Respondents?

A respondent is defined as someone who answers or responds to a question or is the defending party in a law case. For example, a respondent can be a group of firefighters arriving at a fire scene, it can also be a defendant in a divorce case.

In survey research, the term survey respondents refer to the people in the sampling pool who partake in a survey. 

The responses from them are gathered and analyzed for market research.

You can use the insights and feedback obtained from them to get actionable data and make better choices as regards your business. Therefore, anybody who answers a survey is known as a survey respondent. 

If you want to gather data for marketing research, you can distribute your designed survey through email, social media platforms, mobile app, website, or QR code. It is very important to target the right audience or survey respondents because getting an accurate insight will largely depend on the result gathered from the survey responses

Read: Survey Scale: Definitions, Types + [Question Examples]

As a market researcher, you must ensure that while selecting the respondents for your survey you find people that are the right fit for your research topic or subject. This is because survey respondents use their experiences, opinions, and preferences to respond to questions. 

The more they find relatable questions the better the quality of the response or data you will gather. For instance, if you distribute a survey about medical laboratories to a hairdresser, you can expect the quality of your data to be subpar because the respondent and the field are unrelated.

This is why you must ensure that your selected sample size represents your target demographic.

The Challenges of Finding Survey Respondents

Sometimes researchers have a hard time finding the right respondents for their survey. It is usually because of one or more of the following reasons:

1. Small population: This means that there are limited people in the world that you can derive your answers or responses from. This is a reason why you must determine upfront the number of your target audience that actually exists in the world and if their numbers are enough for your research. 

For example, let’s assume you want to gather responses from people with an uncommon genetic disease, there is a possibility that there may not be that many people to help you respond to your questions. Hence, it is important to have a realistic population size you can sample from when deciding on your sample size goals.

In the case where the sample numbers are low, you can change your questions so you can get quality responses. You may not be able to conduct several comparisons among subgroups, but a low sample number does not negate the quality of your research.

Read: Survey Data Collection: Methods, Types, and Analysis

2. Stringent criteria: You may need to check if there are any measures on which you can relax your selection criteria to allow more respondents to get into the research. You can relax on your cutoff and disqualification tactics.

3. Communication method: You are unlikely to get respondents for your survey if you do not use the best method to contact them. The first thing to do is to consider how best to reach the people you want answers from. 

Are they on the internet? are they more likely to be reached by phone? Or by a newspaper ad? You will have to be creative while reaching out to your target audience. For example, you can fax doctors, and you may have to visit a school if your target population is senior students. 

Consider multiple methods that you can use to contact your sample ahead of your study.

Finally, make sure that your questionnaire is not too long. You have to think of every possible challenge ahead and find a way to counter them. 

Explore: Offline Forms – Collect Data without Internet Access

Who is the Right Survey Respondent for You?

You can distribute your survey to those who fit your sample criteria and those who do not, however, the ideal survey respondent should be someone who has relevant experience in your research subject. This is why you should set up screening questions to determine who is the right fit for your survey.

Respondents with prior experience or knowledge of the subject matter are said to be qualified survey respondents. For instance, XY phone manufacturing companies will get the best feedback if their survey about their latest feature is responded to by their phone users. 

Also, their users will be considered qualified survey respondents because they have agreed to share their feedback with the company.

Where to Recruit Respondents for a Survey

1. Hire a Market Research agency to handle recruitment

Employ the service of market research agencies that have an already crafted population. They randomly select people that fit their client’s needs and reach out to them. This method ensures that the respondents selected for the survey are truly representative of the sample population.

Also, as market research agencies use diverse methods to collect survey responses, they also carefully manage the process by eliminating irrelevant responses after the survey. 

Pros of hiring a market research agency

  • The good part of hiring market research agencies is that you can keep in touch with respondents after the survey. 
  • You can also be sure that your survey sample population will be duly represented by the selected participants because they will be familiar with your research topic.

Read: What is Participant Bias? How to Detect & Avoid It

Cons of hiring a market research agency

  • If you are contracting out the job of finding respondents to a market research agency, you may be delayed before your job gets done. 
  • You are also at a risk of substandard survey quality if the agency is not an expert in the field.

2. Use In-person polling

In-person polling is time-consuming but highly effective for qualitative research. It gives you the opportunity to get in-depth responses and even check body language and reactions and body language. 

Pros of in-person polling

  • It gives the researcher a better understanding of the perspective of the respondent.
  • You have the opportunity to record conversations for future use.

Cons of in-person polling

  • You may not be able to do this with a large population. This is because it is time-consuming.
  • Also the more vocal people can overshadow the opinions of the less vocal ones and there is a high chance that the respondents will be roped into conformity bias.

Read: Research Bias: Definition, Types + Examples

3. Reach out to your closest network

You can contact your circle such as your family and friends to help you in completing your form. This will save you a lot of money and time. 

Pros of Reaching out to your closest network

  • You will be able to save time that would have been used to distribute the survey questionnaire to a wider population.
  • You will also save a lot of resources.

Cons of Reaching out to your closest network

  • The responses you will receive may not be totally honest because of the relationship between you and your family, hence you may have biased results.
  • You may not be able to properly represent the survey sample population.

4. Telephone and SMS Outreach

You can reach out to answer your survey. There is a good chance some of them qualify to respond to your survey. You can send out bulk SMS and also reach out. One advantage of this is that you can be certain action would be taken almost immediately concerning your forms.

Also, SMS outreach is not limited by time zones or geographical locations. You can always send a message to anyone across the globe as long as they have network coverage.

Another way to distribute your forms is by arranging call times with your respondents. This way you are able to speak with them in real-time about your questions and get your responses. 

Pros of Telephone and SMS Outreach

  • This can help you build rapport with your respondents and even probe deeper about your research topic. 
  • In the case that your conversation led to a place your survey has not touched, you can get information about it.
  • You can get your survey answered at any time regardless of location and time zones.
  • You do not require an internet connection to get your survey responded to.

Cons of Telephone and SMS Outreach

  • The downside to this is that your messages may be considered as spam if you do not properly introduce yourself. 
  • SMS outreach also costs a lot of money so you must be sure of what your budget can handle.
  • The disadvantage of the telephone as a means of form distribution is that it is time and money-consuming. 
  • You will spend extra money or time transcribing the voice recordings to letters.

Explore: Mobile Phone Surveys: The Ultimate Guide

5. Give incentives

You can motivate people to respond to your survey by giving them incentives. For example, if you visit a senior school, giving out mathematical sets to the students will encourage them to respond to your survey and even do so enthusiastically.

You can also offer your existing contact base to forward your survey to their contact in exchange for an incentive such as free access to your webinar or even a $10 coupon.

6. Gather website respondents

You can gather feedback directly from your website. Simply use the popup feature or embed the form in one of your media such as videos. One of the advantages of collecting feedback on your website is that you keep your visitors longer on your site and you also get valuable insight concerning your services.  

Survey Distribution Methods to Try 

1. Random Device Engagement: This is one of the best ways to distribute your survey. Random Device Engagement allows you to input your surveys into mobile apps, where you can engage your users and incentivize them non-monetarily. This incentive could be informed of extra life in a game.

This is a good way to eliminate the issues of professional panelists. And you also get the chance to partner with awesome app developers and publishers.

2. Google Search Ads: Make use of AdWords to advertise your survey. Although it is expensive, if you’re good with content & ad creation, you may get people to click your ad. 

You can set your survey to focus on a particular demography or area that will capture responses from your target audience.

3. Online community platform: Another good way to distribute your survey is to use social media. It is a very fast and organic way of sharing your survey or questionnaires with your audience. You can even target the population using quota sampling criteria.

You can share your survey on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and the likes. The advantage of using social media is that most of these social media make use of algorithms which means that your ad will be shown on the feed of someone who is likely to click it or people who have shown interest in the subject.

Explore: How to Create Polls On Facebook, Instagram and 5 More

4. Use email: Survey your target market using email. You can leverage your existing client base or mailing list

You can use this survey to understand your clients or to gain insight into your research. All you need to do is write a convincing copy to get them to open the mail and respond to your survey questions.

5. Assisted Crowdsourcing: You can source for your survey respondents by Crowdsourcing online. You can put out a list of questions and have random people online collaborate on it. The crowd can drop their opinions about your research subject and it will be up to you to filter the responses. 

This is great because it is not expensive, it is very flexible, fast and it has a wide reach.

6. Purchase panel respondents: Some websites allow you to purchase respondents. After creating your survey questions, you will be required to customize your target audience. You will set the name, age, sex, and country and submit it. Buying panel respondents will amplify your research answers. You can even gain access to the panel’s behavioral change.

How to Distribute Surveys and Polls with Formplus

Formplus has a wide range of sharing options that you can select from depending on how best you want to reach your respondents. You can share your Formplus forms through social media, emails, you can embed the link in your website or share the link to whoever you want. 

To do this, login to your Formplus account. If you don’t have one, you can create yours here.

Click on the form builder, develop your form, input all the necessary details, you can also customize your form if you want.

Once you’re done, click on the “Share” feature to view your sharing options. Then proceed to select the best option that fits your target audience.

You can share your form on social media and also use the QR codes option that allows your audiences to scan your codes

You can use any of these sharing options to share your forms and have them filled in from anywhere in the world, both online and offline.


The next time you need to survey respondents to help you answer your research, consider the options above and also ensure that the quality of your research survey is topnotch.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 11 min read


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