We shared a moment.
You: Diligently answering the survey questions on your tablet.
Me: Sitting at my desk making minor adjustments to the banner plan and watching the incoming data roll in.
When the browser window closed, I knew I had missed my chance.
I truly appreciate your efforts and have a few more questions for you. Please get in touch!
Most market research experts have experienced a “missed connection” with survey respondents. Whether planning a recontact component from the onset or facing an unexpected recontact need that popped up during or after fielding, achieving a high response rate is integral to the study’s success.
Projects with an expected recontact component have the benefit of early preparation and planning. The purpose of these studies may be to allow time for respondents to assess promotional materials, try or test a product, or participate in a qualitative component, such as an in-depth interview or focus group.
Projects that require an unplanned recontact may be due to programming errors, wherein programming logic inadvertently skips a set of questions. These projects may also stem from the desire to follow up with additional questions based upon results seen during the initial interview.
Regardless of the type, planned or unplanned, timeline and budgetary constraints will come into play. A healthy response rate ensures the investment in the recontact project is well-spent and helps avoid further delays in delivering insights. Follow the tips below for the best results to ensure the best response rate for recontact projects.
The Right Recruit Ratio
One benefit to planned recontacts is the ability to ensure the appropriate recruit ratio from the initial survey. An experienced data collection partner can review the specifics of a project to provide a customized recommendation based on survey specifications; however, a 2:1 or 3:1 recruit-to-recontact ratio is typical. Preparing for some drop-off between the two segments of the study is good practice and ensures enough survey sample is available to hit the minimum requirement for the final phase of the research.
Timing is Everything
Ask a research respondent what they had for dinner last night, and their recall is likely spot on. Ask a respondent about their dinner three Thursdays back, and they will struggle to provide an accurate answer. The same rules apply to a recontact study - it is essential to consider the timing between the initial interview and the follow-up to achieve the maximum return.
The ideal timing? A few days or less is best to achieve optimal response rates. After several weeks it is unlikely that respondents will return to the study. Those that do return after long swaths of time may struggle to recall the context of the initial line of questioning, limiting valuable insights.
For planned recontacts, consider fielding the secondary study shortly after the first. For unplanned studies, aim to return to field as soon as the need for follow-up is identified. Keeping the project top-of-mind for respondents will help secure a solid return for the second phase of the project.
Participant Education and Incentives
Another benefit to planned contacts is the ability to communicate with participants about the second phase of the project during the initial phase. Although it is not a guarantee, screening questions in the initial study can include a willingness to participate in the follow-up interview. This screening will help weed out those participants who are unable or unwilling to join a 2-part study. For those who prefer to leave this aspect out of the screening, messaging during the initial phase can highlight the same, minus the potential termination logic of a formal screening question.
Both planned and unplanned recontact studies can benefit from custom invitation wording. For example, an unexpected recontact may include messaging indicating that a question was missed and requesting the participant to log in and complete the remaining questions. Where possible, referencing the length of interview can be helpful - for example, participants are much more likely to engage in an unplanned follow-up of just a few questions versus the longer commitment of another 15-20 minute study. Clearly outlining the ask is beneficial to keep respondents engaged.
Incentives appropriate to the target audience, length of interview, and participation requirements are a must for a successful recontact study. It is advisable to set up an increased incentive for the completion of the second portion. This setup encourages participants to follow through and provide feedback during the recontact to receive their final incentive.
Avoiding Pitfalls with the Right Research Partner
An experienced partner is critical when preparing a multi-phase research study or when facing an unexpected recontact in or immediately after fielding. Be wary of vendors who simply return a quote without consultation - the right partner will seek to understand the research objectives before making recommendations based on real-world experience. A trustworthy partner can provide guidance on the content, appropriate cadence and timing, sample size, and incentives to ensure optimal results. Tired of missed connections? Let the team at Paradigm Sample find your perfect match today!