How To Get Survey Participants

Philip Cleave
June 15, 2023
An audience asking to participate in a survey

Given the time and investment you put into every survey you write, you’ll want it to achieve the best possible results.

Yet the success of your survey relies on a number of factors, with one of the most important being finding the right survey respondents.

Why the right respondents are crucial to your survey

While trying to identify the right respondents for your survey is not always easy to do, taking the time to get it right at the beginning can pay dividends for you later on.

You’re better able to make generalisations

When you’re able to find more of the right respondents, you’re more likely to have a healthier sample size. This is important, because if your sample size is too small, you won’t have sufficient information to be able to identify patterns and spot trends, which would then make it easier to make generalisations.

Consequently, when you have more information, you can be more confident about making a hypothesis based on the participants you’ve surveyed.

However, you don’t want your sample size to get too big, as this can be wasteful in terms of your resources and time. Using a sample size calculator such as ours, can help you find the exact number you need.

You’ll gain a more accurate picture of your target markets

Whether you work in the public sector or healthcare, education, retail and more. Whatever industry you work in, when you’re capturing more information from your target audience, you’ll have a more detailed picture about how they think, act and respond.

Subsequently, you’ll be more able to take the right decisions and actions based on those results.

You’re more able to improve your customer experience

When it comes to surveying your customers, the higher the volume of the right respondents you have, the more valid information you’ll have to do something valuable with.

So, if most of your feedback is positive, you can use this in your marketing materials to demonstrate how well your organisation is performing. Yet, even if your feedback is negative the insights you get back will be beneficial in terms of identifying what you need to fix, in order to improve your customer experience.

How to find the ideal survey participants

Whatever you’re looking to achieve, when you’re trying to get the best respondents to improve the quality of your feedback, any methods you can use to help you with this will be hugely beneficial.

Here are some ideas to think about. However, some methods will work more effectively for different scenarios. So, you will need to consider your survey objectives carefully, as you look at each option.

Nurture your email marketing list

The contacts that you hold in your email marketing list are already interested in hearing about what you’ve got to say, otherwise they wouldn’t have agreed to you sending further information about your organisation to them. Consequently, they can be a good source of feedback for any survey questions you might have.

As your business grows, so will your email marketing list. However, there are some more direct ways to grow it quicker, including:

  • Gated content – where your customer needs to submit some of their contact details before they’re able to access this content.
  • Events – where you can collect registration email addresses from your conference and event attendees.
  • Your homepage – where you could post a ‘sign-up to receive our newsletter’ call to action button on your homepage.
  • Product information – where you can get consumers to give you their email address in order to receive your latest product information.

As with many things however, while there are benefits to this approach, there are also some limitations. So, it’s prudent to be aware of these before you start putting a lot more work into growing your email list.


  • Given that you will get a lot of email addresses from a varied range of age groups, demographic sectors and people with different levels of enthusiasm, it will give you a rich vein of insights to draw from.
  • It will provide you with a solid on-going source of participants that you can continue to draw on in the future.


  • You need to be careful about complying with GDPR and data security regulations when reaching out to past and current participants, because if you’re found to be in breach of official rules, you could face a hefty fine.
  • You also need to respect the privacy of participants if they indicate that they don’t want to be part of any future research activities.
  • Good data management will be key to keeping your information clean, accurate and up-to-date. But this can take a fair amount of time to do.

Use third-party channels and partners

As they’re already operating in the same industry space as you, your third-party channels and partners can also provide a good future source of contacts for your survey participants.

Just ask your partners if they would mind you using their network or marketing channels to reach out to more potential survey participants. It’s also a good idea to ask them about this sooner rather than later, so you can quickly reach out across third-party networks when a suitable research opportunity comes along.


  • Third-party channel and partner networks can provide a great source of respondents for surveying many of the key stages in the sales lifecycle of products and services.
  • These lists can be particularly helpful if you’re surveying employees or current customers.


  • Statistics highlight that email marketing databases can degrade by as much as 22.55% annually, so you’ll have to identify ways of keeping yours up to date.
  • Email lists are not so helpful in determining wider audiences, as each tends to focus on batches of similar participants based on that source’s line of work. In such instances, you would need to add several source lists together to get a wider picture.
  • You’ll need to plan all your communications so that they adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if you're to avoid the possibility of receiving a hefty fine.

Invite website respondents

Similar to how email leads can provide you with valuable information, you can also get useful feedback from visitors to your website.

Given that the average conversion rate for a landing page is 26%, a landing or squeeze page can offer an effective way to capture leads. By contrast to a typical homepage, where visitors can click through a large range of different buttons, videos and product demos, a specialist landing page typically isolates the call to action for greater impact.

You can make the homepage of your site a landing page with an opt-in. However, if you would prefer to take visitors directly to your natural homepage, you can employ the same concept by presenting them with a popup content offer.


  • A well thought out and marketed call to action can help encourage new and returning visitors to leave their contact details.
  • This approach enables you to control the brand messaging and easily track your performance through data analytics.


  • This method is not so effective if you're looking for a more rapid way of collecting survey participant feedback.
  • The people you attract are limited to those who visit your website. But you can strengthen this by offering pull-based marketing, like Google ads to bring more people to the website.

Buy panel respondents

A consumer panel refers to a sample group of people with relevant backgrounds, who’ve agreed and been selected by an organisation or business to provide them with their opinions. Once selected these specialist panel groups can participate in many different research projects sponsored by the organisation that has purchased them.

Consumer panels is also an additional service that we can offer to our own customers, who need access to the right contacts for their next survey.


  • A panels services gives you immediate access to a tailored list of participants for your survey, as and when you need them.
  • Besides a fast response, given that these survey participants are already used to answering surveys in your chosen field of discipline, you’re more likely to get the detailed, high-quality insights that you need.


  • Depending on where you source them from and your specific needs some consumer panel services can be a bit pricier than others. So, it helps to do a bit of research with several providers.
  • If you plan to use consumer panels for several months or longer, there is the potential for some participants to drop out. If this happens and you tried to add new members in the middle of your research, it could risk skewing your results. So, to minimise this potentially happening, you might want to invite slightly more participants than you need.

Look to social media

A final way to get more visibility and participants for your survey, could be to share it on social media platforms.

Depending on the subject matter and target audience of your survey, you would also need to give some thought about the best channel to issue it on. For example, Facebook is seen as a better channel for promoting consumer issues, as opposed to LinkedIn, which is much better when you’re trying to reach out to a business audience.


  • The digital ‘word of mouth’ offers great potential to spread your survey more widely, as people can easily share it with their friends or followers.
  • You can also reach people across geographical boundaries easily and communicate in real-time with them, opening up new international markets.


  • Once your survey deadline has passed, it can be time-consuming to update social media messages across all your social media platforms. Therefore, try to include an end date in your messaging from the get-go.
  • If you issue a survey link, there’s no guarantee that you will get the in-depth responses you’re looking for, or that it will reach exactly the kind of people you’re looking for. Therefore, including an introductory set of questions at the beginning, can help filter out unsuitable participants before they start.

Source your participants in-person

Depending on the type of survey you’re running, you might be able to reach more participants if you can reach out to them in-person. This can be especially effective in a busy physical bricks and mortar setting such as a retail store.


  • When they’re already at the point of experience, you’re more likely to get more detail from them about what they’ve just experienced. For example, in a supermarket it’s easier to get people’s opinions about different products, as they’re already considering the pros and cons of products as they’re moving from aisle-to-aisle shopping.
  • You’ll also gain a more realistic view of your target audience, when you're experiencing their real-time behaviour, such as reporting on what they do when faced with two competing products.


  • If you’re after peoples’ contact details, they may be less inclined to provide this in person. So, you might like to make sure your survey does not require these answers.
  • A lot of people you meet in person will have limited time to participate in your research. So, it might be best to ensure you ask the most crucial questions first by prioritising your question list in advance.

Concluding thoughts

We hope you found this blog interesting, and if you weren’t already, you now feel better informed about the importance of finding the right participants to take your survey.

Remember the more participants you can find for your survey the better, as the quality of your data and what you’re able to do with it as a result relies on having a decent sample size. But as long as you can establish a rich variety of ways to source your survey participants, you should be able to achieve that.

Deliver better survey results

While the right respondents are essential if you’re to gain the quality insight you need from your survey questions, you still need the right survey tools if you’re to experience the greatest value from your survey efforts.

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