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How To Qualify For Surveys

Reaching the end of a survey is like trying to win a game of Minesweeper with your eyes closed.  No matter how far in you are, one wrong guess means it’s game over.

Even surveys which appear directly relevant to your interests and purchasing behaviour can instantly kick you out for no discernible reason- Often after collecting your data for a good 15 minutes.

After hours of frustration, rejection, and unpaid work, experienced survey participants like myself have come to realise that the industry punishes honestly, and rewards lying.

The malpractice of the survey industry is of no benefit to the genuine consumer, or the company funding the research- But that’s their problem. I’m only interested in extracting the free money on offer from online surveys by whatever means necessary.

How Survey Companies Lie To You

Before you feel bad about lying on surveys, consider the ways in which deception of consumers is integral to the survey process:

  • Surveys often claim that “there are no right or wrong answers”- Before promptly kicking you out of the survey for giving the wrong answer.
  • The reported length of the survey you click on doesn’t match the length given on the survey itself- It inevitably increases.
  • Surveys pretend to be “full” when they don’t like your responses.
  • Fake surveys are used to collect your data, unpaid of course, under the pretense of “finding you a survey” to do.
  • Fake questions are used to screen out bots and low-effort participants. These take the form of essay questions, which are wholly unrelated to the survey topic and are not read by the researchers. This is a massive waste of time and effort for participants.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they do make you money whilst protecting you from exploitation. With this in mind, let’s think about what survey creators are looking for, and how to tell them what they want to hear.

What’s Their Motivation?

The companies behind surveys are figuring out how to sell a product. The way they go about understanding the consumer mindset is to interview people who already buy what they’re selling.

If I was the business, I would also want to know why people don’t want to buy my products, so I could figure out how change their mind. Companies aren’t that smart though, so they cherry-pick information to validate their own beliefs.

We need to work out what type of product the survey is about as soon as possible- And present ourselves as someone who is in the market for this product.

This will require a little bit of detective work on your part. Look for conspicuous or repeated mentions of product categories during the qualification questions to give you a clue.

Purchase Frequency

For questions asking which products you frequently buy, it’s best to choose as many from the list as is realistically possible. When asked which brands you would consider using, select all of them. The more products you are able to select, the higher your chance of selecting the one they are interested in.

Intent to buy a product again is just as important as having recently purchased the product, in the eyes of the survey maker. Be sure to claim that you are considering an imminent purchase when asked.

Be advised that questions about activities you did recently are often used as disqualification traps. If you were to select a statistically unlikely response, such as “Went skydiving”, or “Visited the moon” this would be used as grounds to boot you out of the survey.

Power To Purchase

Survey makers judge your ability to purchase their products based on the demographic information you provide. Basically, they are looking for people who can easily afford to buy the things they want.

It’s strongly recommended to claim you are in full-time employment, with a reasonably high salary, and ideally, a high rank in your company. Your income may also be indirectly assessed, by asking how many people work at your company and what the annual revenue is. In this case, make sure you choose a high enough revenue that would provide a good salary if divided up between the number of employees you state.

Surveys will often ask what level of responsibility you have when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Obviously, you should state that you are the sole decision-maker. In the context of making purchasing decisions for a business, it is therefore important that you are a high-ranking employee e.g. management.

Your Industry Matters

Surveys aim to disqualify people who work in industries that are related to the product in question. This is because they will either have biased views on the product, or will learn about the strategy of their competitor. People who work in the media sector may also leak information about upcoming products, so pose a threat to companies conducting pre-market research.

When faced with a question asking what industry you work in, it is almost always a good idea to choose “None of the above”. These questions are usually a trap, but looking at the list of industries shown can help to inform you of the survey topic.

Perfect Your Profile

Survey sites often invite you to fill in profile questions, for the purpose of matching you to surveys (a system which is far from perfect).

It is important to provide demographic information in surveys which matches what you have entered into your profile. If a discrepancy is detected by the survey, you could be disqualified.

Swagbucks often insert their own “qualification” questions before surveys, which are actually to check the consistency of your answers compared to your profile information. Failing these tests can result in the survey section being disabled on your Swagbucks account.

Keep your story straight or this could happen. Luckily, it was a fake account.

Child Benefits

Saying you have a child opens up more survey opportunities when it comes to products aimed at children. Some surveys even request that your child answers the questions. I regularly complete surveys where I pretend to be a 10-year-old girl.

Remember that if you claim to have a child, you will need to be of a realistic age relative to the age of your son or daughter e.g. 35 with a 10-year-old kid.

If you are asked about children right at the end of the survey, you don’t need to bother with this- It will only risk increasing the length of the survey because you will then have to give the age of your child.

It’s A Numbers Game

Even when armed with the strategies given here, it still won’t be possible to qualify for every survey ever made. Some surveys are looking for such arbitrarily niche demographics that there is no way to predict their intentions.

That said, using an informed approach will ensure that you make a lot more money than is otherwise possible.

Part of optimising your survey-taking strategy is pre-empting and offsetting the negative effects of disqualifications. Ways to do this include:

  • Using survey platforms which offer a disqualification bonus (e.g. CPX Surveys via Swagbucks).
  • Taking 2 surveys at once on different platforms (use the side-by-side window feature on your Windows PC).
  • Opting for the shortest surveys available, as they get to the point quicker with less screening questions.

Stay safe out there, and be sure to lie on surveys.

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