Research on the move

Research on the move

Mobile research used to be largely restricted to simple, short text based surveys through SMS. Although the use of graphics and pictures could be used in questionnaires through WAP, the majority of the research was fast and simple, used for rapid response pulse surveys and as a top-up for other research. However developments over recent years have hugely changed the type of research that can be conducted via mobile.

The emergence of smartphones has been a real game changer. Rapid penetration of Android smartphones, iPhones and the business favourite, Blackberry, has not only changed the scope of what can be achieved with mobile research, but also made getting sample easier than ever before. Surveys can be made far more interesting with enhanced graphics, photos and video clips, which means far greater engagement with respondents.

Even if you don’t view your organisation as a user of mobile research, if you conduct online research, a proportion of your respondents will be completing surveys via their smartphones. Or perhaps struggling to complete them, if your online research isn’t mobile enabled. Are you making it easier for them?

Similarly if you host online communities, many of the contributions will be made via mobile handsets. If communities and panels are more mobile-friendly they encourage more interaction and can be used to provide sample for additional mobile research. There are also many smartphone apps that can help brands connect with consumers when it is convenient for them – either during or just after a transaction or event. At DigitalMR we are particularly excited by this opportunity to connect with respondents when their feedback is likely to be at a premium.

Occasion based or event driven response

One of the key benefits of mobile research is that it allows you to conduct research on the move, making it ideal for occasion based or event driven research. Mobile allows you to survey participants “in the heat of the moment” while in the process of making a transaction or a complaint. Participants are contacted when their opinion is fully formed and most valid.

For example if you are conducting a study on shopping behaviour you will get more considered feedback immediately after an event trigger such as purchase or response to in-store promotion. Customer satisfaction surveys can identify pain points much more quickly if issues such as customer service or call centre queuing times are asked in situ or soon after the event has occurred.

And because you are contacting respondents when they are likely to be most engaged (if you’ve had bad service you want to talk with someone about it sooner rather than later) survey response is usually very fast.

Another key issue with mobile phones is our increasing dependence on them. Mobile penetration in the UK has exceeded 100% since 2004 (not everyone has one, but there are more mobile phones than people).  This has driven the trend toward mobile-only households.  In a review of 2010, a recent article in Research Magazine suggested that in the US a quarter  of all  households are now mobile-only, while in Europe the average figure is about one in three. And of course these figures will be skewed demographically with a larger proportion younger phone users now being mobile-only.

That’s a huge number of respondents who can no longer be contacted through conventional telephone interviewing and logic would dictate that it’s only going to get larger.

So whether you want to conduct event driven research, connect with young audiences or make existing online studies and panels more mobile-friendly, mobile has well and truly come of age. Quite simply it’s now the most widespread medium for one-to-one communication in many markets worldwide.

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