The Market Researcher’s Quest for Survey-Taker Engagement

Administrator | 06 Nov, 2022 | Return|

By: Keith Phillips, Director, Research Science at Dynata

Survey-taking engagement is nothing new.  Market research has always needed people to respond to survey invitations and accurately share their views, opinions and behaviors.  Our objective has not waivered - to get a representative sample of the population we wish to study.  Yet, the environment around us has changed drastically and so has the way we interact with people. 

Often, we reflect on how communication has changed and its impact on reaching the “right” people.  The focus on improving the survey-taking experience has been lacking, hence always taking a back seat to other research objectives. 

Many other industries have upped their game and continue to improve upon the consumer experience because they rely on consumer information and insights to run their business, such as social media companies, search engines, free apps, etc.   All these companies treat consumers like customers, in many instances, they invest more resources in the consumer experience than other areas because without consumers, they do not have anything to offer to keep their business running.  Is our industry so dissimilar?  We need people to take our surveys and without them, we do not have an industry.   Shouldn’t we treat our survey takers like customers too?

Our industry’s value proposition to people is “your opinion matters”, “make your voice count”. That value proposition alone is not appealing enough to attract the number of survey-takers we need.   Therefore, we help drive respondent participation with incentives.  But these incentives should not blind us to the reality that we are in competition for people’s time and data.  As the environment has changed, the competition has become fiercer.

Over the last 20+ years, online market research has had to endure the digital revolution that opened the door to an influx of media content. For example: social media (a new avenue of opinion sharing), mobile apps (leading to even more avenues of internet usage), and even the gig economy (allowing people to monetize their time in different ways).  These changes have not only given people more options and ways to use their free time over taking surveys but also permanently altered our online behavior.  Attention has become selective due to the vast amount of information and options available.  Privacy is a focus, making people less likely to share certain information.

All these changes create a challenge for the market research industry.  How do we recruit survey-takers and keep them engaged?  This has always been the challenge, but perhaps now more than ever, we have reached a tipping point.  Demand seems to be outpacing supply – supply of something that should never run out.  How can we protect and grow the population to participate in research?

Respondent centricity is such a critical element for respondent engagement that we have implemented an internal initiative, involving many departments within our company, to pursue and address it.  Our focus is on improving the overall experience for survey-takers, starting with the survey experience.

The solutions that come out of this initiative are intended to be collaborative between Dynata, our clients, and the industry – ultimately representing a win-win-win for all of us, including survey-takers.

Actions are taken in 4 areas where the survey experience impacts survey-takers: 

  1. DESIGN:  Continuously improving and implementing good survey design practices to improve the individual survey experience
  2. ECOSYSTEM:  Driving behavior change to benefit the entire research ecosystem and ensure long-term sustainability
  3. QUALITY:  Increasing survey data quality by focusing on the right survey takers to remove
  4. WASTAGE:  Reducing overall survey-taker wastage on surveys

Dynata’s ‘Quest Score’ was developed to help drive change and focuses on three key areas that benefit the overall ecosystem:  Efficiency, Engagement, and Trust.  Within these three areas, 8 variables are measured at the individual survey level.  All the variables we chose to measure for this score needed to be important and impactful.  We needed variables that exist and could be measured across all study types and all of which could be improved upon when deficiencies are found. 

An example is conversion, which impacts efficiency and engagement across the ecosystem.  As mentioned earlier, our value proposition outside of incentives is “your opinion matters”.  However, that is not the experience survey-takers have across the industry when most of the time they are screened out, hit a full quota, or drop due to a survey issue.

Our goal is to give meaningful feedback to our clients on ways to improve the research process that benefit the ecosystem.  To help facilitate this, we launched and presented the Dynata Quest awards at the 2022 ESOMAR Congress this year. 

The awards recognize Dynata’s best-performing clients, measured by their Quest Scores aggregated over all projects conducted over the past year. They exceeded the industry standard by having a consistent high standard of positive survey-taking experience. Winning researchers live up to our guiding principles – acting as good stewards, engaging with care, empathy, and efficiency, valuing time and efforts, and being inclusive. 

Looking at the top-performing clients provided a couple of inspirations that demonstrate the strength of our industry:

  • Excellence is found everywhere.  The winners weren’t all full-service research firms.  They weren’t all market research companies, or end clients, or agencies, or companies of the same size.  Actually, they include a mixture of types of firms.  The winners come from all over the ecosphere – media, agencies, MRAs and end clients, etc.  They represent the broad scope of who we are as an industry.
  • We CAN make the ecosystem and survey-taker engagement better.  It is possible to consistently achieve a high standard of survey-taker experience.  Measuring, monitoring, and actively working to improve survey-taker engagement, will set us all up for success over the longer term. It will also ensure we get to our final research and marketing quest – engaged survey-takers who participate in research for many years to come.

To find out who the top 3 winners are in each of the three regions where Dynata operates – Americas, EMEA and APAC – click here >

About Dynata: Dynata is the world’s largest first-party data platform for insights, activation and me,asurement, with a reach encompassing over 68 million consumers and business professionals globally. Partnering with more than 6,000 clients around the world, Dynata offers innovative data services and solutions to bring the voice of the customer to the entire marketing continuum. For more information, visit


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