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10 Tips for Collecting Insightful Mobile Data

The most recent mobile market research statistics, as published by Greenbook, indicate that not only do 70-80% of the world’s adults own a mobile phone, but between 20-30% of surveys are being attempted on mobile enabled devices. Phones, tablets and even phablets are working their way into consumers’ lives and the world of market research too.

With nearly a third of consumers taking surveys on mobile devices, it is important to ensure that surveys are designed with a view to the unique opportunities and challenges that this poses. This will ensure not only the most accurate and relevant insight, but also that consumers are engaged with the survey thus reducing mobile drop-out rates. To ensure the best possible mobile survey design, follow our top ten tips:

1. Consider Both App and Web Designs

There are (broadly speaking) two distinct types of research platform: responsive websites and dedicated mobile apps. The choice of delivery method will have an impact on results. Website-based research is easier to initially access, requiring only the web address and log-in details. However, this type of research requires a stable internet connection as well as respondents to return to the site each time a new task is posted.

Mobile apps require more initial set-up, as users must find the app and then install it on their device. However, once downloaded, participants can access it with ease and data can be stored offline. In short – for one-off research projects, an online responsive website is best. But for long term research, consider developing a mobile app instead.

2. Create Surveys for a Mobile Screen

The mobile ecosphere is dominated by portability and the need for speed. Consumers use their mobile devices on-the-go as a matter of convenience. So mobile market research design must reflect this. The key three design elements to bear in mind are: speed, accessibility and usability. Speed refers to the load times of the questions, as well as the length of time responding takes. Accessibility involves making the research easy to access and usability is the process of ensuring the research is easy to complete.

3. Keep It Simple

It seems obvious, but is often forgotten. Simplicity is the key to generating quality mobile insight. Consumers answering on mobile devices will have (on average) a shorter attention span and will spend less time per question. Therefore it is imperative that questions are short, snappy and simple.

Reducing all questions to basic ‘Yes / No’ options or Likert scales may be a step too far and there is an element of balance required. But as a general rule of thumb, try to avoid questions that are particularly wordy or attempt to make participants think in a contrived way. This is a sure fire way to lose respondent interest quickly.

4. Harness Customer Mobility

Mobile devices are exactly that – mobile. Consumers are able to carry them with them and take part in research virtually anywhere. When designing mobile market research, bear this in mind, and try to harness it where it will benefit your research. Ask participants to visit particular stores, get them to record their daily routines or even incorporate a range of response types. Mobile research is in-the-moment and in-situ, much more so than other forms. So be sure to leverage this and use it to your advantage when designing mobile research.

5. Keep Text Large and Easy to Read

The latest iPhone – the iPhone 6 – has a 4.7” screen. The larger iPhone 6 Plus model has a slightly larger screen, measuring 5.5” diagonally. Compared to PC, laptop and tablet screens these are very small. It may seem like only a small consideration but on a screen so small, one slight design error could be the difference between a great survey and one which is impossible to answer.

While designing your mobile market research, be sure to test it on a range of screens at different stages of the development process and make sure it is easy to read – even while on the move.

6. Ensure Questions are Easy to Answer

Another simple tip which is often overlooked is to make questions as easy as possible to answer. A friendly user interface makes the experience of answering market research questions much less frustrating for participants and will keep them engaged. Poor user interface design, on the other hand, runs the risk of lowering completion rates.

Some simple pointers can ensure your questions are as easy as possible to answer. Make sure check boxes and radial options are large and spaced well. Check it is easy to tap within text boxes for free-form answers. If using a scale, ensure participants are able to drag a slider with ease. Above all, make sure you test the research from the point of view of participants and iron out any bugs and frustrations you find.

7. Use a Range of Question Types

As with any research, it is always best practice to use a range of question types. This keeps participants engaged throughout the research and provides an additional level of interactivity. More importantly, gathering feedback in a number of formats (ranging from text to numerical and even audio visual) ensures consistency of opinion, as well as a greater variety of reporting options for stakeholders.

8. Limit the Amount of Typing Required

Smaller devices also mean smaller keyboards. This makes it more difficult to type long expressive responses – particularly on smartphones. To prevent participants from losing interest in the research, the amount of long form answers should be limited and broken up among other engaging question types.

Another way of reducing the amount of typing required is including emojis as response options. Seth Grimes wrote a great article on the benefits of including emojis in mobile research and how they can aid sentiment analysis. By engaging with these forms of expression, researchers can more accurately pinpoint emotion, as well as reducing the amount of typing required by participants.

9. Avoid Using Flash Objects

Flash objects are interactive animations that can be loaded within a webpage. Although it may be tempting to include Flash objects within online research, it should definitely be avoided at all costs on mobile. Many popular smartphones and tablets do not have Flash support and will simply be unable to load the animation. Not only will this appear broken, but it will in some cases completely prevent participants from completing research.

Fortunately, new programing languages have been developed that provide the same benefits as Flash but are smartphone compatible. The most common is HTML5 which can be used to create great responsive and interactive designs.

10. Follow Up With In-Depth Research

Mobile market research is built around the principle of the short survey. It may be able to give in-the-moment access to consumers on the go, but it is inherently a short form of feedback. To get the most out of your mobile research, it is imperative to incorporate the findings into further research. Use the insights to discover areas of interest into which you can probe further.

Overall, mobile is a great development in online market research – however, as with any technology, it should be viewed in context. The most successful research projects will use mobile insights to understand how consumers feel in the moment. But this must be combined with reflective and group based collaborative feedback to build an accurate picture of consumer behaviour.

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Christopher Martin

Written by Christopher Martin

Chris is experienced in marketing strategy and brand development, which he uses to skilfully guide the FlexMR brand to its full potential. Chris works hard maximising opportunities and ensuring the brand’s offering is relevant and appealing to insights professionals. You can follow Chris on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Topics: Diary Tools, Survey Tools, Insight Innovation