Fun and gamification


People who are engaged with an online survey give more answers and better quality ones. As their enjoyment increases, so does the time they are willing to spend thinking about and articulating their responses. Gamificiation is a simple but effective tool to achieve this. But it’s not all fun and gamification – engagement is a serious issue for the research industry as a whole. If we don’t engage our audiences we could be left with an ever dwindling pool of respondents. Here are our five top tips to gamify any survey.

1. Using gamified language The language of games is a powerful tool. Try using words like ‘challenge’, ‘beat’, or ‘how many?’ in your questions. They all instil a competitive instinct in us and tapping into this can be a useful way of engaging with respondents and encouraging them to give more responses – typically twice as many vs. the usual wording.

2. Using rules Rules are fundamental to games, setting a framework within which we have to operate. Asking for your open-ended responses within a set number of words will get people really thinking and generate more and more focused responses. In our tests we doubled response levels with this simple trick.

3. Time limits Time limits are integral to lots of games and you can make use of their effect when designing questionnaires. You could show an egg timer or countdown clock on the screen– or simply state a time limit for responses. We told respondents that they had no more than 2 minutes to answer a spontaneous awareness question (on which people might normally spend only a few seconds) and achieved six times more response versus our control cell.

4. Rewards Whilst respondents would love a jackpot prize, there are alternative incentives that add no cost. A points tally, especially if it can be compared to that of other people, works well. We’ve offered a points tally running through the questionnaire to great effect – with people spending 50% more time answering questions. You could feed back a mini profile, based on replies to your segmentation algorithm, mimicking the ‘Mostly As – you are this type of person’ you see in magazine quizzes. It too works as a reward for taking part and boosts enjoyment ratings by a third.

5. Role playing Role playing games can be a useful tool, either as a projective technique or as a way of communicating the value of someone’s response. We tried telling mums that the typical mum uses 10,000 baby wipes in a year and that that made them the sorts of experts we needed to learn from. They went on to spend 70% more time answering our questions and gave us much more actionable responses.

Bonus tip
The very simple and very effective role play that everyone can try is to put themselves in the respondent’s shoes and try answering their own survey. Could you – or more importantly would you – complete the survey? Is it enjoyable? Does it feel like a good use of your time?
If you have any doubts, jump on the snake back to tip no. 1 and start again!

Author: Marie Sutton (

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