Drop rate is one of the most important performance metrics when running an online survey. Here’s a simple definition for anyone who isn’t familiar with drop rate: it measures the number of respondents who are never redirected from the survey platform with a „final status“ (complete, terminate, or overquota). In a nutshell, it tells us if respondents are abandoning surveys.
While it’s important to know if a survey is being abandoned, does drop rate really have an impact on sample buyers? It absolutely does – more than you might think.
Here are five reasons why high drop rates are bad for both researchers and respondents.
1) Drop rate reflects respondent experience.
Drop rate should be valued for its correlation to respondent experience and data quality. Of all of the metrics available when running an online survey, drop rate is the most helpful for understanding the respondent journey.
Drops can happen for a variety of reasons – respondents abandoned the survey due to fatigue, got stuck on a broken page, or were redirected incorrectly due to a set up error. Check your survey data to see where you are losing respondents. Or, better yet, test the survey to see for yourself.
2) High drop rate could mean your survey is having technical issues and hurting data quality.
Respondents may drop from a survey when they encounter technical issues, such as a broken video, a missing button, or a mistranslated question.
Furthermore, respondents who decide not to drop when facing these challenges are often completing the survey with incomplete information, lowering the quality of their response.
3) Drop rate also tells us if a survey is designed poorly.
Similarly, drop rate may be tied to bad survey design. Repetitive questions, too many open-ends, excessive grids, and long LOIs can each cause respondent fatigue. Surveys that are not mobile optimized will also lead to poor mobile respondent experience and high rates of abandonment. Those who manage to withstand these conditions may end up rushing to finish out of frustration, resulting in poor quality responses.
4) Losing people in the survey makes your final data set less representative.
Losing lots of good respondents means the data you get from those who complete may not be representative of your intended audience. Those who get to the end only represent those with the strongest will to finish your survey.
5) Suppliers are less likely to send respondents to your survey.
Finally, as you might expect, a high drop rate hurts your survey performance because suppliers do not want to waste their respondents on a broken or frustrating survey. So, the better your survey performance metrics are, the more likely suppliers are to send respondents, and the faster your study will fill.
What does this mean for you?
High drop rate is direct feedback from respondents that your survey should be redesigned to improve the respondent experience and increase engagement. This could also result in higher quality in your final data set, so it’s a win for you and the respondents.
Listen to your respondents – they are dropping out for a reason! This feedback should be used to help you track down the source of the drops. When survey has a high drop rate (>20%), test it end-to-end. Walking in your respondent’s shoes is the best way to understand their experience (even if you are sure that your survey is perfect).
Bottom line: if you were a respondent, would YOU want to take your survey? If the answer is no, then it’s time to reconsider your survey design.
If you want to learn more about how to prevent a high drop rate, check out our post on respondent experience!