Survey Taking Compensation Payment Approaches

Ever wonder why different survey companies offer different payment options? Points, high minimum payouts, low minimum payouts, etc., learn why there are so many approaches to paying incentives.

Different Survey Companies, Different Payment Options – Why?

Operating online surveys has become quite an industry unto itself within the last five years. Where it started off with the potential incentive of a prize or an electronic gadget, today surveys programmes come in all shapes and sizes. However, the most successful approach adopted to recruiting consistent delivery of survey takers tend to be the ones that pay for the work provided. That said, there’s a question as to what is the right amount to pay and when to make the tool useful but not a cash drain on a company paying for the work.

Reasons for Different Payment Approaches

Cash availability tends to be the strongest reason for small businesses or those on a limited cash flow cycle themselves. However, administration of payment to thousands survey takers can also be a problem if a business is managing its own surveys. Trying to pay every worker on a weekly basis can become work in itself for a full-time position. Instead, by extending out the time window when a worker becomes eligible for payment, it slows down the need for related administration, reducing the workload week to week.

Types of Payment Cycles

Option 1: High Minimum Payouts
Various approaches are applied to this problem. Some research companies utilize a high dollar amount, requiring users to commit a considerable amount of work on surveys before actually realizing the payment award. For this approach to work, it the payout has to be high enough in aggregate that people remain interested in building a balance towards payment. Workers also need to be able to see their progress. Most services provide at least some element of simple accounting to see the progress. Companies who utilize this method often set their minimum payouts at £25.

Option 2: Small Minimum Payouts
A second approach tries a smaller payout that is more achievable in a shorter period of time. To offset the demand on cash flow, a service will likely bring in far more survey takers who will compete for the various surveys, priced and low to high values. Most of the surveys are priced low but enough items are placed at a high level to create competition and demand.

Option 3: Loyalty Programme Points
A third approach uses a loyalty programme type approach. Instead of earning money, panellists are paid in points. As the points aggregate in a panellists’ account, he then either has the ability to use those points for an actual cash payout worth probably one-fifth that of the point numerical value or the rewards can be attributed towards coupons or discounts for partner-businesses and their products. If the point-to-reward value is fair and somewhat easy to attain, survey takers will pursue it. The benefit of this approach is that there is far less cash flow demand to payout. Instead, the points become a currency in their own.

Option 4: Chances to Win Prizes or Money
The worst method tends to be the program that tries to offer a chance at a large reward but in truth has little payout. While it may attract some panelists at first, the approach generally gets people frustrated an angry. True, it costs little in the form of any payout. But the program ends up constantly looking for new panellists because the existing ones keep quitting.


For those businesses with tight cash, having too frequent of a payout cycle obviously won’t work. However, a balance needs to be struck between reward and timing. If not, survey takers end up leaving, which means the business benefiting from the survey work ends up receiving poor quality responses instead of quality, honest answering. Many of you might have experienced this very scenario. Hopefully this article was helpful in explaining why this happens.

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