Mobile surveys and mobile research in general is still a big question mark for many. Quite understandable too – will it work on all phone, are the panels representative, will respondents mind the cost of data*, etc.
Does your current survey display and work properly on any mobile? Or at least on smartphones?
According to Consumer Barometer 56% of the US and 62% of the UK population owns a smartphone and globally the number of smartphone users topped 1 billion in October 2012. A large majority (90%) of smartphone owners read email on their phone (more mobile email usage statistics).
When your survey is mobile-proof you can send it out via email and not worry about a large portion of your audience not being able to answer it because it wasn’t mobile optimised.
Unlike laptops or desktop computers we keep our mobiles almost always on, flying and hospitals with sensitive equipment are probably the only exceptions. This means that surveys delivered via SMS are viewed and responded to immediately. We always know when a new text or email arrives.
On average we see response rates of 20-50% with our panels when the survey is delivered via SMS. Compare that with 10% which is considered a very good response rate with online surveys.
The shiny little phones are our most personal gadgets and as such gets disproportionate amount of our attention. Texts are read and replied to immediately, email checked religiously, facts checked on Wikipedia as discussions take place.
Results of the studies vary but it’s safe to say that over half of the smartphone users take their phones to the toilet. There’s even anecdotal evidence that toilet break length has increased with the explosion of smartphones.
The point is – people keep their phones about and they kill a lot of time reading email, surfing, social networking, choosing filters for their Instagram pics etc.
Always on, gets the attention, never left behind – the results is faster and higher response rates when compared to surveys that only work well on the computer.
Mobile is today the best way to do diary and in-the-moment type research. Perhaps only having someone follow the respondents 24/7 would yield better results but perhaps practical only for security services like NSA or MI6 in the UK.
Instant survey delivery via push notification or SMS opens new possibilities to time the survey:
The ability to capture respondent's geolocation data adds a layer of understanding of where your data is coming from, is it concentrated at a particular area, rural vs urban etc. In diary type studies it can reveal travel patterns over the day or week etc.
It's worth pointing out that survey response rates do suffer slightly as some respondents are not comfortable revealing that much information about themselves. Our recommendation is to capture geolocation only if it is vital for achieving the objectives of the study.
Taking advantage of the fact that most phones these days have a built-in camera we can design the survey with much richer answers in mind asking respondents to snap pictures of the ads they’re seeing, what they’re buying, what their kitchen looks like.
This opens up an affordable way of doing more quantitative in-home research with a strong ethnographic side to it.
Audio and video are also theoretically possible although data speed and cost becomes an issue.
Broadband and smartphone penetration in growth and emerging markets can be surprisingly low for anyone who's coming from the US, UK or Western Europe. Consumers in many of these countries have leapfrogged broadband internet in favor of the mobile internet.
This is an opportunity and a challenge at the same time. With the right survey solution it is possible to avoid costly and slow face-to-face interviews by targeting consumers straight on their mobiles.
* Short answers- yes, it depends, no.