Market Research

DIY incentives – Making market research incentives faster, better and cheaper

Bringing your market research in-house is not just about taking control of your surveys and reporting — there's also participant recruiting and incentives to start managing yourself. This is especially true when recruiting participants from your own customer base or working with a B2B audience.

Incentives are an important recruiting tool, but they are also a lot of work. They eat up a lot of time and there are lots of headaches. Not only do you have to buy rewards and then send them, you have to track them as well. And when respondents complain, you have to spend time resolving those complaints.

Sometimes, after all that effort, you still don’t get the response rates you needed. That’s really frustrating, isn’t it?

So, here’s the good news. Incentives don’t have to be that hard, especially if you employ these seven best practices that will help you use incentives more effectively and will take the pain and cost out of offering incentives.

1. Offer the Right Reward

Maximizing response rates starts with offering the right reward for your study.

There’s really no cookie-cutter solution here. For rewards to be effective, they should get your participants excited and engaged. This starts by offering a compelling reward value. Choose a reward value based on the complexity of your survey, a realistic estimate of the time required to complete it, and the value of the respondents’ time.

A reward value that is compelling to one demographic might not be to another. A college student might get much more excited about completing a survey to get a $10 coffee gift card than a CEO whose time is valued much higher.

In addition to offering a compelling reward value, your reward should feel relevant and exciting. Offer a small, thoughtful selection of rewards that are appropriate to the value, demographics, and nature of your study.

Avoid forcing respondents to sort through a large list of irrelevant and impersonal choices. For example, if your study is wellness-oriented, offering fast food rewards is probably not a good idea.

If you’re working on customer research, especially B2B research, allowing respondents the option to donate their reward is a good idea. This allows respondents who are shy about accepting rewards to donate the reward to charity. And it feels thoughtful and creates goodwill towards your brand.

2. Automate by Integrating Rewards into Survey Platform

Automating your incentives program can help you cut back on the time you spend on the fulfillment process by as much as 75%! It also ensures that those who responded to your survey get their rewards promptly and instills trust in your brand.

With market research incentive tools integrated with many survey platforms, it’s simple to combine the two and automate that process.

3. Don’t Let Rewards Compromise Survey Anonymity

Many research methodologies rely on keeping responses anonymous. If your research is overseen by an IRB (Institutional Research Board), you may even need to prove this to the IRB.

So it is important to avoid asking survey respondents to provide their email address within the survey to receive their incentive. Asking for that email address within the survey can compromise the anonymity of the survey response. When your respondents see an embedded email question in the survey, it may make them unconformable about sharing information and you will end up with a high number of incomplete surveys.

The solution? Decouple the reward delivery process from the survey. Collect the reward delivery email separately from the survey so that responses will be anonymous and the reward delivery isn’t tied to the responses. A well-integrated incentives system can make this easy.

4. Protect Your Survey Incentives

When using incentives, it is important to protect your survey from unauthorized respondents. You can guard against this abuse by inviting participants to respond to a survey through individualized, one-time-use links. Most survey tools, including Qualtrics, offer this capability. Using this feature ensures that you pay out only one reward per completed survey.

In the event that your survey has to be distributed as an open link that anyone can access, I

recommend reviewing and approving respondents. The approval workflow should be easy and built into your incentives tool. Remember to communicate to your respondents that their reward requests are subject to review and approval. This is an effective deterrent against abuse.

5. Use Trusted Reward Delivery

When you deliver rewards by email, the “from” name should match what you used on the survey invitation for consistency and to ensure the reward email is easily recognized and opened.

In addition, the email address domain should be your company’s domain instead of a strange third party email address, which can be confusing to recipients. When rewards arrive from an unknown third party, they may end up in the spam folder or be ignored because recipients don’t recognize and trust the sender.

When rewards arrive from your familiar name and trusted email address, they are instantly recognized and opened. This drastically cuts down on the number of respondents who contact you to say they never received their rewards.

6. Manage Incentives in a Central Place

Rather than juggling different spreadsheets for market research incentives for different projects (especially if you manage dozens of studies), use a centralized portal for managing all incentives to save a lot of time and effort.

In this centralized platform, you can organize your incentives by surveys and studies and get up-to-the-minute status on every reward delivery.

7. Don’t Waste Budget on Unclaimed Rewards

Have you ever stopped to analyze how many of your market research incentives never get claimed? On average, 10-20% of rewards go unclaimed. That’s a big chunk of your DIY research budget.

There are many reasons respondents never claim their rewards. For example, people sometimes use a secondary email address for surveys and then forget to check it for their rewards. Or they are too busy and file away your reward email, never opening it.

If you have 600 respondents for a survey and you offer a $25 reward, if 15% go unclaimed, that’s $2250 you just wasted. A better solution is to work with a market research incentives provider that refunds you for unclaimed rewards.


DIY market research incentives don’t have to be overwhelming. With the right automation tools and integrations, as well as these smart best practices, you’ll streamline the process so you can focus on your study.

Learn more DIY market research incentives tips from Jignesh Shah and the Rybbon team at X4:The Experience Management Summit. Rybbon’s integration with Qualtrics allows you to organize and track rewards for multiple surveys and studies and eliminates the hassle and expense of manual reward administration.

Ready to take your market research to the next level? Try Qualtrics