The editors of GreenBook continue to do important work to warn against a threat to the market research industry’s very survival: a failure to give survey respondents a satisfying experience. When the habitat for survey-takers turns inhospitable, they’ll return insult for insult, disrespect for disrespect. The result will be miserable response rates, flatlining data quality and a deterioration in business decision-makers’ trust in their research suppliers or in-house insights departments.
GreenBook editors address this crisis In the latest edition of the GRIT Consumer Participation in Research Report. Their goal is to reform what they call a “quite alarming” disregard among insights professionals for the panelist experience.
GreenBook partnered with panel providers to survey 6,208 research participants worldwide, including 2,005 in the United States, about their satisfaction and preferences for taking part in research studies.
The bottom line is a warning that doesn’t mince words: “We as an industry must change our ways, and respondents have just given us a pretty clear set of directions on how to do that. The way we have always conducted research may have met our needs in the past, but the world has changed…people simply expect more from their relationships, including research.” And those expectations aren't being met. GreenBook reported that 48.9% of consumers indicated satisfaction with their survey experiences (8 or higher on a scale of 10,) and only 23.1% gave the experience a peak grade of 9 or 10.
Beyond documenting the threat, GreenBook posits some ideas for countering it.
- Five core principles for better panel experience: “build brands and relationships,” “be transparent,” “engagement is key,” “make it simple and clear” and “user experience matters.”
- Five suggestions for implementing these principles: “leverage technology,” “make it mobile first,” “keep it short,” “deliver flexible and real-time rewards,” and “ensure 100% data quality.”
- And five watchwords for staying focused on giving panelists a quality experience: “put the respondent first,” “let respondents set terms of engagement,” “be respectful,” “make it rewarding” and “create win/win relationships.”
This is important. And refreshing. GreenBook has painted the big picture well, while laying out many of the specific challenges to making it brighter. However, there’s one important missing factor to consider. As researchers act on the GRIT panel experience report's urgent advice to “leverage technology” and “make it mobile first,” they need to understand two competing mobile research technologies and methodologies.
- One is transformative because it recognizes and taps into the smartphone’s powerful capabilities as a research tool.The other is a quick-fix, rear-guard action that unimaginatively attempts to migrate outdated online survey methodology onto mobile screens.
- The retro approach is commonly known as “mobile optimized.” It’s core value proposition is cosmetic: make last-generation online surveys look better in a smaller smartphone interface.
- Web-based mobile surveys don’t solve the problem of slow, unreliable performance due to dropped signals and slow load-ins. They just perpetuate the panel failures of online surveys.
- The key word here is “online,” since mobile optimized surveys require the respondent to be online to connect with a survey housed on a website.
- Advanced mobile technology transplants the survey-taking experience to a cutting-edge native app. In-app surveys are “native” to smartphones because the questionnaire is instantly embedded (“cached” is the technical term) in the phone itself.
- You’re not getting advanced mobile if the method you choose involves web connections and all the drawbacks they bring.
To learn more, just check the MFour blog for fresh daily news and information about mobile research, including specific product and panel information, and regular how-to items on mobile best practices. Use the search function by plugging in terms such as “in-app” and “panel quality” to get layers of insights into the concerns GreenBook has raised. Or, for a direct, one-on-one conversation, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.