Survey Fatigue

Survey fatigue (often used interchangeably with respondent fatigue) is a problem that occurs when respondents become bored or tired during the questionnaire and begin to perform at a substandard level and start providing less or incorrect data.



In general, we can identify two types of survey fatigue:

  1. Survey Response Fatigue - This occurs before the questionnaire even begins. Overwhelmed by the growing number of incoming questionnaires, respondents will be less inclined to participate. As a result, you’ll suffer from a low response rate.
  2. Survey Taking Fatigue - This type happens during the completion of the questionnaire, when it is perceived as too long and includes questions irrelevant to the respondent. An indicator of it can be found in a low completion rate.

This guide will teach you:

  1. Reducing survey response fatigue
  2. Reducing survey taking fatigue

Read more about it on our blog to learn what it is and how to avoid it

1. Reducing survey response fatigue

  • Questionnaire frequency - Your respondents may be so bombarded with requests that they’re not even interested or the slightest bit motivated to open your questionnaire. Think carefully about how frequently you really need to be sending out invitations. You may just find that less is more, and sending out a carefully designed questionnaire less frequently may elicit a better response rate, than churning out questionnaires too often that are less carefully planned. Additionally, consider segmenting your audience and surveying each segment less frequently, rather than sending it out to your entire audience too often.
  • Alternative data collection methods - There may be times when you can use other methods of data collection rather than sending questionnaires.
  • Timing - Another point to consider is sending your questionnaire at the right time, both in terms of the time of day or day of the week, as well as a specific amount of time after there has been some interaction between you and your respondent. It is advisable to send out an invitation following a purchase or conversation between you and your customer rather than sending it out of the blue to a whole list of customers.

2. Reducing survey taking fatigue

  • Keep it as simple as possible – only ask necessary questions
  • Use skip logic – you can reduce the number of questions that respondents need to answer by creating rules so that they are only shown the questions relevant to them.
  • Make sure the layout is clear, user-friendly, and intuitive
  • Add some fun – check out our slot machine and scratch card questions to spice up the questionnaire and keep respondents interested!
  • Consider running a pilot study where respondents will go through your questionnaire and can give you feedback about the questions at the end. You could find out, for example, at which point they felt it was getting interesting or  too long, any questions that were worded in an unclear way, or that they felt were too taxing.
  • Communicate to respondents about the purpose of their participation, what data will be used and for what, and why their answers are important to you.

Check out the entire glossary list in a printable list.

What's next?

  • Survey completion rate: When calculating the completion rate, the calculation only takes to account those people who had some interaction with the questionnaire, meaning that they actually started it. We don’t count the number of people who were invited and ignored the invitation.  
  • Survey Accuracy is the extent to which a questionnaire result represents the attribute being measured in the group of interest or population. Determining how accurate the data captured by a questionnaire, reflects the entire population requires computing the confidence interval and the confidence level.
  • Survey incentives are actually not much different from any other kind of incentive. They are reasons, monetary or non-monetary, physical or emotional that drive or motivate people to fill in your questionnaire. In other words, they would boost your response rate.
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