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Key considerations when conducting research via mobile

GMI Team at MRMW Asia 2014. Young Ham (Second from the right)

GMI Team at MRMW Asia 2014. Young Ham (Second from the right)

Young Ham, Product Innovation Manager (APAC) at Lightspeed Research – GMI, warns against researchers simply applying what they know from online surveys and transferring that to mobile.

Here he provides a summary of the key points from a workshop GMI delivered at the recent Market Research in the Mobile World APAC conference in Singapore.

“In the digital age, one of the best ways to conduct research is by using mobile devices.

And while mobile research is a fantastic way of ensuring you gain access to the people you are most interested in interviewing, there are still many challenges that businesses moving into the mobile research space need to overcome.

In our experience conducting surveys with respondents from across the globe, we’ve identified seven key factors that will not only help in the execution of your survey, but more importantly will allow you to have confidence in your results”.

1) Create a positive respondent experience for sustainability and data quality

When it comes to mobile research, the number one rule is to create a convenient and easy-to-use survey that your respondents will react to in a positive way.

This means taking into account ‘survey design considerations for the display capabilities of your respondent device’.

A well designed survey will help to ensure that the information you receive is of high quality and will mean that respondents are more inclined to want to take future surveys on their mobile device.

2) Understand respondent sources

It’s vital to understand the respondent sources you’ll be working with and ensure you’ll have access to the populations you are interested in.

This involves getting a clear picture of how your respondents are sourced and where your respondents are sourced from, as well as what optimal incentives are. It may also be possible to leverage pre-collected panelist information to reduce the questionnaire length.

And always leverage the experience of your research supplier and their knowledge of conducting mobile research.

3) Use the right survey tools to facilitate respondent access

Your survey needs to be easily accessible to ensure respondents are engaged and can provide you with relevant data.

It’s also a good idea to implement automated device detection, so you can determine what device each respondent is using to participate in your survey.

4) Know your devices

Remember not all mobile devices are created equal, so you need to understand the capabilities of different types of technologies – as well as different types of respondents.

Once you have familiarised yourself with these capabilities, make sure you incorporate them into your survey. While old-fashioned phones may only have basic capabilities, tablets and the aptly named smartphone will give you more scope to be creative.

5) Keep surveys short to increase respondent engagement

A sound knowledge of your respondent sources will help you determine the optimal length for your survey.

Ideally, you should stick to 15 questions or a 10 minute limit for your survey. However, keep in mind that some participants, such as dynamically-sourced respondents, will be less patient.

The type of device a respondent will be using should also be factored into your survey design and length.

6) Things to avoid in mobile surveys

Knowing what to leave out of your survey is just as important as knowing what to put in. It’s best to avoid the use of:
– matrix grids
– long attribute and brand lists
– non-essential images and/or logos
– lengthy, complex questions
– flash questions

It’s also a good idea to limit the use of open-ended questions, which often require respondents to type long answers using keypads on mobile devices. This can be taxing for a respondent, particularly on feature phones.

7) Reduce survey length by introducing ‘modularisation’

‘Modularisation’ is a great way to make long, complex surveys more mobile friendly, by splitting the questionnaire into bite-sized chunks.

Using bite-sized chunks as a way to make efficient use of partial data, to increase respondent satisfaction and to make surveys more adaptable to device-agnostic platforms has proven to be a viable solution. Data can also be fused into one complete data set. We expect that survey modularisation and fusion will become essential components of the Market Researcher’s toolkit.

About The Author

Young Ham

Young Ham's passion for technology motivated him to lead mobile research developments and to become heavily involved in the innovation team at Lightspeed GMI. Young has over 10 years’ experience in the MR industry and previously ran APAC programming and data processing teams. Prior to his successful career in MR, he worked as a Software Engineer and he also holds a degree in Computer Science & Engineering. Young is a qualified PRINCE2 Practitioner and most recently trained in Lean Six Sigma, Green Belt.

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