Best Practices for Conducting Surveys on Mobile Devices
You know it’s true – it’s not just younger consumers anymore. Everyone seems to be on their phones or tablets, all the time. And no wonder! Consider this:
- More than 40% of U.S. households only have cell phones, with no landline telephones at all. (Pew Foundation Research)
- There are 327 million mobile phones in USA – more than one for every person in the country. (CTIA)
- 81% of mobile phone users text. (Pew Foundation Research)
Mobile devices are our primary source of contact, information, and social interaction. And that is true for business people as well as the general consumers. An estimated 30% to 40% of all online surveys are completed on a mobile device, and that is growing. Therefore, for many companies, if you want respondents to take your survey, you’re going to have to make sure they can take it on a mobile device.
Conducting marketing research on mobile phones requires not only different sampling techniques but also different survey software and questions. Simply designing the “same old” online survey and the sending it out via mobile will not work. The smaller screen, as well as the different settings where your respondents may choose to complete the survey will both have an impact on how your respondent experiences your survey.
Here are ten tips for designing a mobile-friendly survey:
- Use mobile optimized survey software. Mobile optimization means the software automatically detects the device and the screen size used and adjusts the layout of the survey accordingly. Not all survey software is optimized for mobile data collection, so make sure you are using the best software option.
- Keep it short. Shorter surveys are always better, but consumers using mobile devices have even less patience for long, time-consuming surveys that respondents using computers. So limit the number of questions, as well as the number of words per question. If you can’t get all your information in one survey, split it into multiple surveys.
- Avoid the Grid. Large, matrix-type questions have been a staple of marketing research for a while. But research has shown that they are not the best tools for good data quality and respondent experience. If they are hard to answer on a computer, they are going to be extremely challenging to complete on a smaller screen. So just don’t use matrix questions. Split them up into individual questions with associated responses.
- Avoid open-ended questions. One of the drawbacks to online research is the lack of ability to probe respondents’ open-ended Often, respondents to online surveys give text answers that are brief, even cryptic. If respondents are reluctant to answer open-ended questions using their computers, you can bet they will be even more reticent to answer them thoroughly on their phones.
- Keep it vertical. Because it is not possible to scroll vertically on smartphones, put your responses in a column, rather than a row.
- Avoid Images and Videos. When designing a mobile survey, you have to keep in mind the real estate that is available on the screen, as well as download times. Both of these are in limited quantities, so use them judiciously. Even a graphic as traditional as a logo may be too much for a mobile survey.
- How many questions per page? It used to be that we limited the number of questions per page to one. Now, in a well-designed mobile survey, you can put several questions on the page – as long as there is no need for the respondent to scroll to see them all. Aiming for two to three questions per screen is probably optimal.
- Avoid progress bars. While progress bars are great for online surveys, there is simply no room for them on the mobile screen. (And if you keep your survey short, your respondents won’t miss the progress bar at all.)
- Avoid drop-down Drop down menus are difficult for mobile respondents to use without inadvertently choosing one of the options. So again, make it easy for your mobile respondent and just put your (few) options in a column.
- Test, test, and test again. To ensure that your survey works correctly, test it by computer, tablet and mobile phone. Test it using both iPhone and Android enabled phones to make sure the software is recognizing the device. Make sure all the questions and response categories can be seen without scrolling, that the questions download quickly, and that the responses can be selected
The impact of mobile devices on Marketing Research is profound, but simple adjustments can make a difference in getting the survey done properly. Following these guidelines will help you design an online survey that mobile respondents can answer easily while avoiding bad data quality and frustration that results in early break-offs from the survey. Keep in mind the limitations of the mobile experience and your research will succeed in all environments.
Register today with Clear Seas Research to see how we can bring the mobile voice-of-your-customer right into your decision making process today!