Surveys are universally hated

//Surveys are universally hated

Surveys are universally hated

By | 2017-09-26T08:24:46+01:00 September 26th, 2017|Rollercoaster|2 Comments

It turns out that surveys aren’t really popular. Or people don’t like receiving yet another email. Maybe ‘Surveys are universally hated’ is a little strong but that’s our experience so far. But I can only speak to the survey that we sent out which asked ‘How important is staff training in your business?’

The answers coming back or rather the lack of answers indicate apparently not very important at all. It seems like we actually don’t believe in investing in people. Which would be very sad if it was indeed the case.

The survey was 8 questions; 3 minutes to fill. And we tried without an enticer as well as with to see if that made a difference. Our enticement was that responders, if they wanted to, would be entered into a prize draw to which £1 got added to for each completed response. The winner could then redeem the gift card against a training course.

One could draw a conclusion that charity is a better enticement than contributing to someone’s learning and development but I don’t.

Our goal was to receive double digits response rate.

We had over 9,000 email recipients (16.6% open rate, 0.73% click rate).

We received 15 responses.  Yup, you read that correctly, only 15 responses.

We should have been clearer with our goal setting and asked for ‘a very high double digit response rate’!

We also tried a day of calling businesses to fill the survey on the phone, from 50 calls we had 1 hit, along with over 20% of the calls resulting in usual ‘not interested or call back later’.

We will certainly honour the prize draw and will still go ahead and publish the results of the survey in October though its not going to be statistically significant.

The survey closes at the end of this month, September, so if you’re feeling generous with your time, please do fill it out and help us get to a bigger double digit response rate.


Summing it up:  A very disappointing and disheartening result even the efforts that went into it.

Score: 4/10

This article was first posted on as part of blogging the rollercoaster ride of a bootstrap startup. It was going to be a rant but as I’m so disappointed with the results I’m actually at a loss for words!


  1. Hilary Fitzgerald 27th September 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Fundamentally I think this comes down to incentives:
    1. What is the value (to me) of doing this survey (based on the time I expect it will take)?
    2. How much do I know/care about the business/product/service?
    Everyone has more demands on their time than they can possibly ever meet – so to get people to fill in surveys, they either need a prize/offer that they value, or they need to have something to say.
    Although you had an “interesting” prize, it doesn’t really have a clear value (unknown total, unknown amount of training that equates to), and it takes time to understand, so there is no attention-grabbing headline. Nor does it offer a social value (donating £1 to charity for each entry shows a clear time-v-benefit to the responder). Also, the prize is difficult to redeem – the gift card can only be used against a course – so there is a time overhead to choosing one – and the prize fund may require topping up with your own money in order to cover the cost. So really the prize is almost worthless (just a discount voucher).
    Onto the second point – since you are new, people have no experience (of your business) on which they can draw an opinion… so you can really only collect generic views – which straight away dilutes the strength of feeling. You don’t yet have a big enough group of people who are engaged with you enough to care…
    So – 15 responses – in the circumstances, maybe that’s not bad!!
    Not sure whether it would work, but maybe at this stage, you can only ask one question at a time – the best you can hope is a one-click poll where it takes so little time, people don’t go through the same evaluation process as above – and they get instant feedback by seeing the running totals after they have made their choice… run each one for a week, then in 8 weeks you might get your survey completed?
    I think you’re right – we all hate surveys – so unless there’s some reason to do them, no-one will!! 🙂

    • Joanna 27th September 2017 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      @Hilary. That’s quite a comprehensive comment, thank you. Two very good points which I fully accept as good learning points given your explanations. The Prize value was on the website but totally understand that it requires effort to check it out and a diversion from what we wanted to achieve which was more responses. Perhaps if we do a future survey we will conform to a social norms with survey response incentives to keep it simple and ‘of value’.

      I like your suggestion, that’s worth a try, thanks!

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