Mobile Surveys: The Pandora’s Box of Awesomeness

In market research any new trend often feels like a Pandora’s Box: something a company feels it needs to open but is then blindsided by the outpouring results. Big data, social media, and content marketing are some examples—even as many are finally being harnessed for decipherable benefits. Mobile technology is certainly in this category; as an example, we reported that 71% of businesses employ mobile apps yet almost half of the respondents find it “extremely challenging.”

The reality is that the Pandora’s Box that is mobile technology is already open. As CNN reported, more Americans are using mobile devices to browse the internet than on PC’s, and already 60% of cell phones are smartphones.

This should not be the case where surveys and mobile technology intersect. The one danger coming out of this Pandora’s Box is the efficiency in data collection, and there is a box-full of research as proof.

This qSample’s SlideShare on some of the advantages of mobile surveys (and we will get more below):

In our Mobile Vs. Online White Paper, two panels were recruited to conduct a survey on preferences in chewing gum. One panel used mobile technology, while the other used computers. The conclusions not only underscored the benefits of mobile surveys, but deduced the behavioral differences between consumers using mobile technology and those who primarily stayed online:

Mobile data collection has an advantage over online surveys in cooperation rates (i.e., likelihood to participate) and in speed of response. Twice the data was collected in half the field of time. The mobile survey had to be shut down earlier than the online one, which was left open nearly a week to achieve the desired sample size of 300 completed surveys. For short surveys, mobile data collection can reasonable replace online data collection. In addition, the quality of data could be expected to be superior because the methodology is still a novelty and respondents seem more engaged. Because of this, field times can be shortened as well.

Even Wikipedia agrees, stating: “Apart from the high mobile phone penetration, further advantages are quicker response times and the possibility to reach previously hard-to-reach target groups.” Last but not least for any business feeling their budget might be another Pandora’s Box, and as a market search company explained—mobile surveys offer a “significant drop in production costs.”

From a marketing standpoint (and referring back to the SlideShare), the research also revealed these insights:

–   Mobile respondents are generally younger and work full-time.
–   Mobile respondents generally earn more.
–   Mobile respondents tend to buy more capriciously, such as making a decision in the checkout lane instead of planning.
–   Mobile respondents are more open to changing brands.

This all points to the reality that mobile technology is fertile ground for many companies. To wit: mobile surveys are more efficient and reach an audience that can be better influenced.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to mobile surveys, as our article demonstrated:

–   Surveys need to ensure they are calibrated to various mobile platforms, from IPad to Kindle Fire, from IPhone to Android phones.
–   Questions need to be as short and concise as possible, because of the limited space in mobile platforms.
–   Apps that conduct surveys need to be as light as possible, because of the restricted size of mobile technology hard drives.
–   Because of better wireless network services in cities, surveys can potentially be skewed, limiting the responses from those living in suburban settings.

These disadvantages will likely become moot, though. Cloud technology, an expanding range of wireless networks, enhanced devices being produced every year, and more people buying mobile devices will gradually erase these concerns. As for length and bulk of questionnaires, our recent piece provided a key to the best possible surveys in any medium: write short and sweet questionnaires. In other words, mobile surveys are already a suitable platform for effective online surveys.

However, the reality is that online surveys is still king as it relates to data collection; it’s the mode of choice for research data collection and continues to surge (even beyond online sampling). Industry purists predicted that mobile would surpass online, and that has yet to happen.

In the myth of Pandora’s Box, the one concept that was left after the forbidden container was opened was hope. Needless to say, when it comes to mobile surveys (and all mobile technology), hope is certainly out of the box and into a potentially epic future.

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