Looking ahead to 2017, the panel crisis in market research is certain to remain one of the industry’s most important focuses. The most recent GreenBook Report on Industry Trends (GRIT) described the online panel crisis as “an existential threat” to consumer research. Without a new strategy to engage quality panelists, the report said, survey-based approaches will enter a “death spiral.”
Survey providers noticed – SurveyMonkey, for one, announced a new move into analyzing data from mobile apps, aimed at business clients. “Mobile will be the leading platform in which businesses connect with customers,” SurveyMonkey’s CEO said at the time. Mobile is winning – and it’s winning big. In fact, GreenBook characterizes mobile research as “mainstream,” with its latest survey showing that mobile is in fact the most-used method – used by 75% of respondents. Online communities were a distant second – used by 59% of respondents.
It’s well established that traditional online research methods are failing to capture accurate insights from a mobile-centric consumer base. So-called “mobile optimized” surveys that attempt to shoehorn online survey formats onto mobile screens are no solution. They don’t have the seamless functionality of app-based true-mobile surveys – and without seamless functionality, there’s no hope of making a trusting, one-to-one connection with real mobile consumers.
When done right, on the other hand, the true-mobile approach extends the great traditions of market research and allows them to thrive in the smartphone era. Consider the following:
- Big Data about mobile use or social media use isn’t enough. To truly know consumers, you have to ask them what they’re thinking and feeling, instead of solely relying on Big Data insights on broader behavioral patterns.
- “90% of Time on Mobile is Spent in Apps,” says a study by Flurry analytics. In other words, trying to conduct online surveys via mobile is like trying to catch fish in a puddle. App-based true-mobile research puts surveys in harmony with the ways in which consumers want to receive and exchange information on their phones.
- Getting consumers to engage with surveys so that they will tell you what they think and feel is no easy matter. Failure to engage is what’s killing online surveys – and it’s not just poor survey design, but a case of operating in entirely the wrong sector of the information/communications universe.
- Engaging consumers on mobile is the obvious solution, but it’s extremely hard to do. SurveyMonkey’s insight earlier this year that mobile apps are the gateway to important consumer data was on target, but the postscript is that the company recently announced it was abandoning its mobile data initiative after just eight months. Execution and relevance to clients’ needs are crucial – and take years of technological effort to perfect.
- The problem isn’t that consumers are impatient with mobile surveys. It’s that they’re downright dismissive of any experience on their phones and with their apps that doesn’t live up to their extremely high expectations of smooth-functioning elegance and convenience – the qualities that make using their phones so appealing in the first place.
- So-called mobile solutions that simply usher smartphone users to a website where a survey is housed will not provide the true-mobile experience that’s a must for productive research engagement.
- The only way to get the reliable and representative sample that eludes online surveys is to use the right technology, which means harnessing a native app that embeds the survey experience instantly in the phone itself and allows respondents to answer offline.
A good, fast, and cost-efficient way to explore true-mobile research and compare it to the online-centered mobile you may be using now is to try MFourDIY™ – the only app-centered, true-mobile DIY alternative. For details, please visit mfourdiy.com or contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.