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Tips for increasing participation in agency evaluations

Advertisers use evaluations to gauge and manage the success of their relationships with agency partners. These results are typically distributed to client and agency teams. However sometimes, stakeholders aren't properly engaged in the process. Without high rates of participation, advertisers can't fully learn how to improve their agency relationships. Therefore, it's important for advertisers to increase participation in their evaluations to ensure their relationships are strong, the work is good and that it yields the intended results. Here are some steps advertisers can take to do just that:

Agency evaluations should be as user friendly as possible.
Agency evaluations should be as user friendly as possible.

Secure executive endorsement
A powerful method to encourage participation is to secure the support of your executives. Launching with a message from the executive sponsor, sending another to drive response rates ahead of the close and a final message to thank respondents are additional techniques to communicate the importance of this process.

"The easier the evaluation process, the more participation advertisers will see."

Keep it short
It's easy to lose interest in filling out a survey if it's perceived that it takes a long time to complete. Advertisers should focus on creating surveys that have as few questions as required to meet the survey objectives. The survey objectives should also be realistic. Typically, the broader the scope, the longer the survey, and that can harm participation rates. Make sure that they survey is easy to complete.

The rating scale needs to be easy to understand, and the questions must have the rating scale in mind so that the respondent isn't confused using the scale to answer the question. Open-ended questions can be very useful, but too many can place a strain on respondents. Careful use of free text questions can add a valuable qualitative component to the survey that, for example, can be used to offer an opportunity for respondents to explain their quantitative assessment. Offering the opportunity to provide comments as a choice rather than forcing a text response can also help respondents to move more quickly and input where they have stronger feelings. And yet at other times a forced response is a very good idea, so the design needs to considered with the survey aims and context in mind.

Offer incentives
The results of agency evaluations are high value to the client and agency teams, but they do place a burden on respondents. There's typically no immediate gratification for completing a questionnaire, so the idea of an incentive is worth considering. Companies could provide a small incentive to lift rates, but perhaps the most meaningful incentive in a B2B environment is to provide the results of respondents input immediately on completion. Providing respondents with an immediate view of their input is a useful means to reward the effort to complete a survey. Simply being able to see a summary of your input is a meaningful reward and lessens the fear that input somehow disappears into a vacuum.

Providing the final results of the survey shortly after the survey closes is also very important. You should look to close, compile and circulate the results and report in the shortest viable timeframe. Long lags between completion and the results not surprisingly results in a level of disengagement and dissatisfaction with the program.

Send reminders
In a given day, people can receive hundreds of emails. An initial email requesting participation in an agency assessment can quickly get lost. A system of reminders can help. This obligates advertisers to send the assessment early enough to space out notice correspondence over time. Circulating a memo regarding the survey's expiration date after mid-survey is a common practice.

The agency evaluation process becomes easier with access to data. Access to data makes it easier for advertisers to gain more insight from the agency evaluation process.

Test the survey before it goes into the field
Ideally, surveys should be tested to assess the key points above; for example, understanding if respondents find the survey easy to complete, they find rating scale makes sense, there's productive use of open text answers and that survey can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

It's crucial for advertisers to encourage participation in their agency assessments. To increase cooperation from agency management teams, you should aim to keep the survey shorts and focused, ensure that they are easy to complete, offer feedback as an incentive to stay engaged, send frequent reminders and promote the fact you have endorsement from the senior executive team. With support and insight from all the people working with your agency partners, advertisers can improve their agency relationships and create stronger, more successful campaigns.

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