This is a guest post by Jillesa Gebhardt, Survey Scientist at SurveyMonkey.

You’ve just finished a major event. You’re exhausted, you’re happy — and you’re curious. Did your attendees get as much out of the event as you think they did?

Surveys tell you exactly what attendees loved about your event and what you can do to make it even better next time. Strategically, they’re a godsend — for you. So how do you ensure that they’re worthwhile for the respondents (event attendees) too?

There are several ways to incentivise and smooth the path for potential survey takers so that you get the responses you need to make better decisions.

1. Make responding to surveys instant

People are never going to be more motivated to fill out a survey than in the moment when they’re engaging with your event. So give them the chance to give feedback the moment it occurs to them. There are a few different ways you can do this:

  • Create kiosks or have tablets available so that attendees can tell you what they think while they’re at the event. Important note: the Wi-Fi at conferences is notoriously spotty, so you need to ensure that you have an offline mode (if you’re using SurveyMonkey, it’s called SurveyMonkey Anywhere) enabled so that you can make sure you’re collecting those responses.
  • Add QR codes to slides in your presentations, or print them on posters. QR codes let attendees take your survey instantly on their phones. Anyone with a smartphone can scan QR codes through their camera. That lets people weigh in immediately after a key session, or whenever their feedback is freshest in their mind.

2. Come bearing gifts

Attendees are doing you a favour by filling out your survey, so you should consider repaying the favour in the most direct way possible: free goodies!

What’s your freebie? A tote bag? A portable phone charger? A care kit? Whatever it is, it might be your best way of getting those responses.

It’s typically easiest to hand freebies out in real-time. Ask people to show you the end page of the survey on their phone as proof they’ve completed it, or offer one of your tablets so they can show you there.

For post-event surveys, you can also send freebies in the mail through SurveyMonkey’s integration with Sendoso.  

3. Create a contest to increase survey responses

Raffles are a staple of corporate events for a reason: They’re a great way to get your attendees engaged and excited about your brand, both during and after the event. They’re also an effective way to boost response rates. Tell attendees that responding to your surveys will enter them into the drawing for a luxurious or trendy prize.

4. Know the best surveys come in small packages

You want your survey to be as seamless as possible to take, so keep it short. Focus on the questions that are absolutely critical (we recommend no more than 10 questions), and choose question types that are easy to answer.

Which question types are “good”? Try to stick to multiple choice questions that can be answered with a single click, and limit open-ended questions that require people to write in their responses. However, if you do want to include some open-ended questions to gather particular feedback, put them at the end of your survey so that people don’t lose steam and drop off early.

5. Use surveys to give attendees control over their experience

People are more likely to take a survey if they know what it’s being used for — especially if they know it will mean a better future event experience for them. If possible, ask attendees questions about potential topics before the event even happens, so you can equip speakers with the areas their audience will be most curious about. Or, ask attendees whether they’d be more interested in a free lunch or a subsidised gift, so you know how to reward them for completing surveys at the event.

Even post-event surveys can give respondents a sense of control if you ask questions about their preferences for the next event, or getting communication from you in the future. Keep your most relevant questions near the beginning of your survey to show respondents the value they’ll get from taking time to answer.

6. Hack more effective post-event emails

Aim to send a post-event survey no more than one day after the event. You want it to be fresh in people’s minds, and prevent them from confusing it with other events. You’ll also want to set up a reminder email for people who don’t respond within the next week or so.

Recent research found that survey opens go up by 22% when the survey’s first question was embedded in the email. Attendees are also 20% more likely to finish the entire survey—a major bump.

Respondents are most likely to respond to your survey at 9 or 10 a.m. — or 2 or 3 p.m. — on a workday. If you want to precision-time your emails, make sure to get them out a bit before those windows the day-of, or the day after, the event.

The more responses you get, the more accurate your insights will be. Comprehensive survey data helps you understand what your attendees loved, what fell flat, and what they’re hungry for more of.

Check out our new eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Event Surveys: Inside Tips from SurveyMonkey for expert tips on using surveys before, during, and after your event.

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