Any conversation about mobile research is a good conversation, especially when it emphasizes a core truth like this: “Excluding people who will only take part [in surveys] via mobile is going to compromise your research – and this effect is likely to increase.”
The quote is from consultant Ray Poynter, a thought leader on survey methodology who has kept track of developments in mobile research over the years. It’s part of an article Poynter posted recently entitled “Major Update on Mobile Market Research.” But the conversation Poynter instigates is incomplete, because it neglects to reckon with in-app mobile surveys that represent the state-of-the-art. More about that in a moment.
Poynter’s article does reflect a thorough understanding of why it’s crucial to get mobile research right: smartphones are indispensable portals to today’s consumers, who overwhelmingly choose to receive and exchange information on their omnipresent, all-consuming phones. Perhaps the most telling statistic comes from the Pew Research Center: 77% of the U.S. public was using smartphones as of late 2016, rising to 92% among younger (18-29) Millennials. Here’s another: Flurry Analytics reports that the average American adult spends five hours a day on mobile devices – including more than 4 ½ hours using mobile apps.
As Poynter emphasizes, it follows, logically, that market research needs to meet today’s mobile consumers where they are, or face the consequences of being increasingly out of touch with what’s really happening in the marketplace. His article then dives into details of how best to adapt online surveys to smartphones.
And this is where his “major update” falls short. There’s an erroneous assumption, hardly unique to Poynter, that there’s just one way forward: trying to reconcile long-established online surveys to smartphones by tweaking designs that work well on personal computers but alienate mobile respondents with poor functionality and display.
There is, in fact, another approach: in-app mobile survey methodology that’s not just incrementally different, but stands categorically apart from online mobile research. In-app research technology cuts the cord between the smartphone and the internet, allowing surveys to load instantly into the phone, where they can be taken offline. This approach renders everything you’ve heard about “mobile optimization” irrelevant.
No disrespect intended. To repeat: Poynter does everyone a service by emphasizing the fundamental need for insights professionals to get mobile research right. But it’s time to take the conversation a step further by always including the in-app mobile alternative in any discussion. Here, for starters, are three key value points:
- Faster, more fluid performance that keeps respondents engaged, even with longer surveys lasting 20 minutes or more.
- Instant load-ins that store the questionnaire in the app, allowing respondents to take surveys offline, where there’s no risk of dropped connections to the internet, and no vulnerability to survey-taking bots that defraud researchers and distort data by imitating real consumers.
- Multimedia and geolocation capabilities that are unique to smartphones, making it possible to survey shoppers in-store or just after they’ve completed a visit, or to test social media ads by injecting them directly and unobtrusively into targeted consumers’ news feeds.
In-app mobile is not an untested technology or an unproven approach. Major brands including PepsiCo and Warner Bros. have embraced it to great effect. So let’s start remembering in-app solutions whenever the conversation turns to how consumer research can take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities the Smartphone Era presents. For an in-depth conversation right now, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for a quick, entertaining video overview of in-app mobile, just click here.