By now the idea that consumer insights professionals need to get mobile research right probably has sunk in.
But for that knowledge to blossom into effective projects, it’s important to dig one layer deeper and understand you can’t get mobile right if you’re not conducting it through a state-of-the-art mobile survey app. That’s because consumers aren’t simply on mobile. They’re on mobile apps, to an extent that eclipses the other method by which smartphone users can take surveys – using their phones' browsers to connect to the internet. Key data points on app use versus browser use come from a study by Flurry Analytics:
- The average U.S. consumer is spending five hours a day using a smartphone.
- Of that time, 4 hours and 36 minutes (92%) are spent using apps; the other 24 minutes (8%) belong to content accessed in a mobile browser.
It's clear that consumer surveys and passive data acquisition will increasingly be conducted with mobile apps. But mobile apps are not commodities – least of all mobile research apps. Developing research-specific capabilities and ensuring the app's smooth functionality for clients and panelists alike is an ongoing, full-time task. It requires a team effort by software developers, quality assurance analysts, client service liaisons and survey programming and fielding experts, all of whom have the needed experience and expertise to make the app and the complex research apparatus it houses translate into seamless and effective consumer insights projects. So when you make your move to app-based research, make sure to learn about the people who stand behind the app, because it's the team as a whole that will make all the difference.
An illustration from another industry is worth noting -- as outlined in a recent MediaPost commentary about a new app rolled out by a beverage retailer.
“The … app at this early stage feels like a “me-too” execution but lacks the vision for where it’s going. I feel like a marketing team checked off the box to get the app out the door, but didn’t explain the longer-term vision to the customer. It almost feels like they did a soft launch, hoping not to come out of the box with installs blazing so they could gauge customer interest."
"Mobile is a way of life, one that’s not going away anytime soon," the article continues. "I’d think … [the company] should be looking at this as an all-in strategy, trying to uncover ways to exceed customer expectations and surpass its largest competitor.”
The takeaway for insights professionals is that when a sample or survey technology provider tells you “we’ve got mobile" or even "we've got a mobile app,” that's merely a conversation-starter, a minimum acceptable ante for getting into the mobile research game. Apps must be finely-tuned to their tasks, especially one as complex as carrying out mobile surveys. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Make sure the app is not a new arrival created by a company with little or no track record of developing survey apps.
- Be wary of providers who focus on technology but have little or no knowledge of the objectives of market research, and even less about the specifics of how panelists are recruited and how surveys are designed, fielded and reported.
- Be sure to give close consideration to the most proven and well-established app-based research platform. Surveys on the Go® from MFour debuted in 2011, just four years after the debut of the first iPhone and three years after Android smartphones came on the scene, cementing this change in how we all live.
- Get specific answers about what the research app provider is doing to ensure that it can gather a quality research panel around that app. That's not possible without fair cash compensation for taking surveys, nor can a panel be recruited and kept well-engaged without providing its members with excellent user service. The SOTG app has more than 1.3 million active U.S. users, virtually all of whom discovered it by word of mouth.
- Download the app, join the panel, and see for yourself whether the surveys measure up to your expectations for engagement and smooth functionality.
- Get opinions from tens of thousands of app users by checking their publicly-available ratings and comments stating their satisfaction with the survey app's performance.
- As of the start of this month, 59,344 users had posted ratings or reviews of Surveys on the Go® in the Apple and Google app stores from 2011 to the present. 69.5% had given SOTG the top rating of 5 stars; an additional 17.3% gave it a 4-star rating.
- The app's overall score continued to stand at 4.5, an approval level it has enjoyed for years.
For a productive, forward-looking conversation about how app-based mobile research can address your specific needs, click here. To download Surveys on the Go® and take it for a spin, click here. And for an entertaining video introduction to mobile app research, just click here.