Our survey says…

Whilst writing last week’s post, I was reminded of another similar thing.

Many years at university, I signed up for a survey website. It was a very simple premise, complete a survey and earn two points. When you get to 10 points you could trade them in for vouchers.

The system starts off by giving 6 points for signing up and proving that you’re a student, so after only 2 surveys you qualified for your first voucher (at least that’s how I remember it – it was several years ago).

All of the surveys started with a disclaimer that depending on your answers you could be selected out. The first questions were all about demographics. If they only wanted 10 males aged 18-24, and you happened to be the eleventh, you got kicked out of the survey and didn’t get any credits for taking part.

After receiving a lot of complaints (I may have done), they changed it so that if you got filtered out, you went into a prize draw. I don’t remember what the exact prize was (possibly an iPod) but I wasn’t particularly interested and the odds were so low that I probably wasn’t going to win.

Sometimes you could get even further through a survey before getting kicked out. One of the surveys I did was to do with gin-makers and their marketing campaigns. After various questions on drinking frequency, location etc, as soon as you answer that you didn’t drink gin, you got kicked out of the survey.

After a few times of being sent the same quiz, I realised that if I said “yes” to drinking gin, and a few thoughts on whether I had heard of their products, I could make it all the way through the survey.

Yes, it possibly skewed their survey results, but it’s their fault for designing such a terrible survey where the only way of getting a reward is to tell them the answers they want to hear. After spending several minutes of answering questions to only get a chance of winning a prize draw, who wouldn’t go for the more immediate reward? Particularly as I was simply trying to get to the next voucher qualification level so I could close my account down (which I did do eventually).

So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re going to have people filling in most of a survey (or going all the way to give blood), give them sort of actual reward for that, maybe just one point. But probably also don’t give them two points if they just answer “yes” to everything in your survey.