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From Doubter to Evangelist: Why It’s Time To Embrace Mobile Research

After numerous conversations with fellow industry professionals, I offer three core differentiators that best explain why market research needs to heavily invest and integrate mobile in our methodologies.

evangelist

Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since we did a post on mobile only, and since the topic is a large part of the agendas of all of the summer conferences as well as the focus on this week’s Radio NewMR (tune in!), today’s submission by Ben Leet of uSamp seemed to be appropriate. It’s a well laid out argument for why the shift to mobile-enabled research needs to be a big strategic imperative for everyone in the insights space.

By Ben Leet

As with all things new, adoption takes time. There’s that sense of hesitation and then the slew of questions come: Will it really take off? Do I have to change my business model? What investment do I need to make? Will there be decent returns? Scary stuff, this thing called change.

Two years ago, I probably sat in the same camp on mobile methodology as most. I couldn’t see how an industry could possibly consider putting those 20-30 minute surveys onto a mobile device. –“Just won’t happen” were my exact words.

And I was partly right because anything longer than seven minutes doesn’t belong on a mobile device, and the industry isn’t going to migrate from online to mobile in that sense; however what I hadn’t fully appreciated at the time was the power that the smartphone revolution would bring to mobile research. It’s not about a replacement methodology – it’s an entirely new methodology, and it’s happening here and now.

After numerous conversations with fellow industry professionals, I offer three core differentiators that best explain why market research needs to heavily invest and integrate mobile in our methodologies:

1. Contextualisation. Research done on a mobile device can provide more context than other approaches. It can document an in-the-moment response by eliminating recall bias; it can capture rich media such as photos or videos; it can even enter into the realms of ethnography via video diaries. Instead of sitting behind an anonymous computer screen taking a survey, respondents can use the mobile to add context to their answers in real time. The holy grail for researchers is to better understand our audience – here’s our chance!

Verification. Mobile provides that additional layer of verification, especially for location-based research where through GPS, the phone can know exactly where someone is when taking a survey. It can ensure only people buying certain products are allowed into the survey by using barcode scanning and barcode validation, and photo capture ensures that we can see with our own eyes whether respondents are telling us the truth. Researchers want to increase their “confidence” in the data they present to their clients – here’s our chance!

Reach. The final piece in the puzzle: Mobile will quickly become more representative of the population than any other methodology, and it’s also more engaging than any other methodology. We turn our phones on as soon as we wake, check them before bed, and have them by our sides in between. With landline penetration falling and email response rates plummeting, mobile will be the best way to reach our audiences. Here’s our chance to re-engage with that elusive but sought after 18-34 year old age group.

Not only is mobile here to stay, but it’s already being embraced in many circles. Mobile is no longer a theory; it’s moving into phase two of its evolution where early adoption has taken hold and businesses are using this technology. I’m encouraging all MR professionals to move into these uncharted but incredibly exciting waters. Now is your chance to help shape the future of our industry!

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2 responses to “From Doubter to Evangelist: Why It’s Time To Embrace Mobile Research

  1. Good article. I’m not sure though why surveys longer than 7 mins are not suitable for mobile. Or alternatively what technology is? Although short is always good.

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