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Maximizing Mobile Study Effectiveness

Capturing a mobile respondent’s attention for longer by accommodating mobile users with smaller grids and shorter, well-targeted questionnaires.

For a while, it was the drumbeat: mobile, mobile, mobile. It was THE topic of interest across the industry, with fear and uncertainty swirling about at the mention of the word. Would mobile studies really take root? Would these new, often shorter studies yield good data? The answers to those questions now seem eminently clear.

First, mobile is here to stay—just as it is in the population-at-large. If anything, it’s becoming old hat, with clients well ready and waiting for effective mobile studies. And as for the quality of data, there’s no reason for fear; as long as studies are properly designed for a mobile audience they should result in good quality data. (Think about it: When we switched gears from in-person to phone, then from phone to online studies we worried about data quality—without cause.) In fact, the most effective design of these studies was the topic of a key panel discussion at a recent Market Research Society B2B research conference. Toluna was one of the presenters at the panel, which yielded a range of recommendations for designing and mounting effective mobile studies. Here’s a look at some of the major conclusions of the panel.

Refining Mobile as It Matures

As we said at the outset, there’s nothing really new about mobile, with 40 percent of respondents saying they have participated in a mobile survey, and 10 percent of respondents participating in mobile surveys of their own accord. That means surveys should be designed to be mobile-compatible across-the-board. Things to remember include:

  • PC users have large screens, so they can accommodate studies built on large grids. Obviously, mobile screens are smaller, making it harder for users to work with large grids. It’s much more effective to design surveys with drop-down menus so mobile users can navigate easily, which helps avoid frustration based abandonment. Note that some platform-based solutions like TolunaInsights are device-agnostic, completely avoiding the issue of ineffective design. This, of course, is the most forward-looking approach to the continuing growth of the mobile market. (In 2016 mobile survey participation stood at 30 percent, and has now grown to 40 percent.)
  • Size matters. Generally speaking, mobile users have less tolerance for long surveys. This may be partly due to the fact that they tend to skew slightly younger, with the impatience of youth a well-established fact. And the mobile environment is, of course, rife with distractions; generally, younger respondents tend to be big media consumers and favored targets of advertisers. To compete effectively with all these distractions, it’s usually important to keep studies to around 15 minutes long. This can be achieved by applying different design guidelines. For example, if testing 100 concepts, don’t ask one person to test all of them. Rather, ask one respondent to test five against just three variables, so 15 questions in 7.5 minutes.
  • Zero-in with the right questions. In the high-traffic mobile environment, it’s more important than ever before to design an effective questionnaire. In the few minutes, you have a respondent’s attention, you can’t afford to ask questions to which you already have the answers. It’s critical to quickly move to questions that will yield new and actionable data. Research has shown that, with a well-designed, interesting study, you can actually capture a mobile respondent’s attention for longer.

When you think about it, there’s nothing really hard about creating effective mobile studies. It’s really just a matter of “thinking small,” remembering to accommodate mobile users with smaller grids and shorter, well-targeted questionnaires. And with mobile such a major part of our lives, it’s about time we changed the way we’ve been doing surveys for the last 50 or 60 years and really reflect the way the world has changed.

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