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Why “Mobile Optimized” Is Just Another Word for “Obsolete”

 

Unacceptable 

“Shibboleth” isn’t a word you read or hear very often, but you’ve probably read or heard fairly often that mobile surveys are only good for short interviews. And that, friends, is a shibboleth.

 

Here’s the Oxford Dictionary definition of shibboleth (which rhymes with “it’s a myth”): “A custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important.” And here’s why it’s applicable to common notions about mobile research:

  • It has become a matter of belief that mobile surveys have to be kept short.
  • The “particular class or group of people” who hold this belief is consumer insights professionals (although by no means all of them).
  • This belief is “outmoded” and “no longer important” — in fact, it’s damaging to brands’ ability to understand today’s mobile consumers.

Therefore: a shibboleth.

 

It’s unfortunate, but understandable, that many researchers have this misconception. The majority still are aware of only one type of mobile, when they need to understand there are two, and that they are categorically different. The  “mobile optimized” methodology is, in fact, only good for short surveys, if it’s good for anything. The other type is in-app mobile research, which is beginning to gain awareness, including the fact that it’s a reliable tool for surveys that take 20 minutes or more to complete.

 

“Mobile optimized” is a new buzzword for the same old surveys: online questionnaires that are housed on the internet. The only difference is that the familiar online methodology is now being repackaged to be accessed on smartphones. It’s essentially a superficial, cosmetic improvement: “mobile optimized” surveys are supposed to make online surveys look and behave better on smartphones.  But in fact, this approach is far worse than the traditional online method it aims to perpetuate.

 

In a mobile optimized survey, the phone connects to a website where the survey is housed. If that connection is interrupted or load-ins are delayed, the respondent is left frustrated and data quality suffers. That’s why mobile optimized surveys have to be kept short. Every additional question increases the chances that something bad will happen. And users who have no patience for poor performance on their phones will either race through the poorly-functioning survey, or simply drop it.

 

Instead of turning a smartphone into a miniature version of a desktop or laptop computer, in-app mobile research takes full advantage of smartphones’ unique capabilities. There is no connection to the internet, and therefore no impediment to smooth, user-friendly functionality. The entire survey loads instantly into the phone itself. The respondent then answers the questionnaire offline, where there’s no danger of frustrating delays and therefore no need to keep the survey short.

 

Go by your own experience as to whether the apps you use give you faster and more reliable experiences than when you use a browser or email link to connect to the mobile web.  If you’re like most people, you get antsy if you have to wait more than a couple of seconds for the content you’re seeking to load in. So in the mobile online (aka “mobile optimized”) space, keeping LOIs short is a must.

 

With in-app mobile, you’ll place your projects in a completely different category. Based on the experience of clients who’ve already moved to in-app, here’s what you can expect from surveys with LOI of 20 minutes or more:

  • Completion rates of 90%
  • Drop-off rates of no more than 6.5%
  • Sophisticated survey design, including logic and branching
  • A proprietary, all-mobile panel of more than 1.3 million U.S. members who are willing to engage fully with long surveys because the app’s fast, smooth functionality gives them a pleasurable experience every step of the way.
  • Geolocation and multimedia features that let you do in-location studies in real time, and/or let you test video content such as advertising, or receive “video selfies” in which facial expressions, tone of voice, and in-their-own-words comments vividly bring home all the emotions that underlie consumer attitudes and behavior.

If you enjoy learning by doing, you can design and field an in-app mobile survey with MFourDIY® – the only all-mobile do-it-yourself research platform. Or you can join the Surveys on the Go® panel and take the app for a test-spin from the panelist’s point of view. Download SOTG by clicking here, and start earning some coffee money while you’re experiencing the truth about advanced, in-app mobile for yourself. We’re confident you’ll have an epiphany – but that’s a fancy term we’ll leave for another day.

 

For a productive conversation about how in-app mobile solutions can meet your specific research needs, just get in touch at solutions@mfour.com. Meanwhile, for an entertaining video introduction to in-app mobile, just click here.