With 92% of UK consumers owning a mobile device, mobile market research is more important than ever. If offers us the opportunity to tap into customers’ in-the-moment experiences, target invites by specific location and take advantage of its multimedia capabilities.
Mobile presents researchers with a chance to think beyond the existing quantitative and qualitative techniques and explore more creative ways of gaining consumer insight. With that in mind, we’ve come up with six unique ways to make use of mobile for this purpose.
1. Capture In the Moment Responses
With our phones always at hand, mobile market research helps researchers connect with customers at the crucial point of decision-making. Give participants a phone survey to complete alongside their interaction with your product or service. Including just a few questions will encourage customers to reach for their phone and carry out this short task while on the go. Administering a survey through mobile means customers can feedback on their attitudes, actions and feelings at the exact time they’re experienced.
From a research point of view, collecting this fresh, real-time insight guarantees more accurate responses than those otherwise generated from self-reporting. Asking participants to retrospectively self-report on their experiences can often be prone to hazy recollection where emotions play less of a role. However, catching them in the moment will enable us to empathize more with customers and importantly, understand why they behave the way they do.
Phone GPS is ideal for targeting invites to those in a particular location, letting you carry out more in-the-moment research. For those owning a GPS-enabled smartphone, geo-fencing technology recognizes when they enter or exit a particular geographical location. Push survey notifications to potential respondents when around your field of interest and they can share their thoughts while the experience is clear in their mind. Location data also helps identify whether it is in fact the intended respondent carrying out the research, testing the authenticity of responses.
‘Negative fencing’, an upcoming trend, sends surveys to participants following their experience when a certain distance away from the location. This has the benefit of allowing participants more time to reflect on their answers, leading to more in-depth and high quality responses. Negative fencing therefore encourages qualitative findings, whereas the in-the-moment nature of geo-fencing lends itself to more quantitative results. The two can of course be combined in which a survey is administered both when the respondent enters and exits the location to compare initial vs. long-lasting impressions. This helps researchers understand customers’ intentions vs. reality and potential reasons for any similarities or differences.
Native apps take advantage of GPS capabilities too by passively monitoring customers’ behaviours, whether that be store visits, web browsing, online purchase habits etc. This form of data is invaluable and a necessary source of objective evidence since participants’ responses can be occasionally prone to bias. Those who wish to paint a positive picture of themselves may provide misleading information, causing a mismatch between what customers say and what they do. Passive data collection helps us to understand the latter, telling us what people do, with who and for how long. Of course, obtaining this personal, in-situ information has its privacy concerns and would need informed consent on behalf of the participant beforehand.
3. Incorporating Multi-Media
Research through smartphone isn’t restricted to purely written response. Asking participants to upload pictures and videos of what they see or do when engaging with your product or service can provide even greater insight by expressing what words themselves sometimes can’t. Giving the participant an active role in the process helps keep the research dynamic and interesting, encouraging their involvement. Submitting this type of diverse material can promote a closer bond between customers and brands too with participants sharing their more personal experiences.
4. The Role of SMS
Mobile market research isn’t exclusive to smartphones either. Text messaging can still target those 22% of UK consumers with a basic mobile. A simple one question survey, for example, “On a scale of 1–10, how likely would you be to recommend..?” is short and to the point. Texts like these are ideal for obtaining quick and useful information. A higher response rate is also guaranteed since little effort is demanded from the participant.
5. App Usage
Participants can also be engaged through company apps. This is a great way to catch loyal customers to the brand who use the app frequently. Regardless of what company the app is for or the service it offers, MR can be easily incorporated. For each customer who navigates through the app, have a few questions pop up asking them about their experiences with the business’ products or services so far.
Encourage customers to review the company or its app by giving it a star rating — also quick and effective. Although users may choose to dismiss the notification, keeping these questions as short and few as possible should get them on board. Diary entries could also be introduced, asking people to record their thoughts each time they use the app, providing more qualitative insight.
6. Mobile Ethnography
In-depth insight into the everyday lives of consumers can also be gained through ethnographic methods. Have participants fill in a daily blog or journal and upload photos to a scrapbook, reporting their feelings and experiences at your moment of interest. Keeping a daily track on consumers will help you learn more about their general habits and behavioural drives. Respondents are also likely to feel relaxed when carrying out these everyday, freeform activities, leading to authentic and insightful responses.
These are only a few ways mobiles can be used in market research which will continue to change as its technology develops. With mobile tapping into customers’ innermost, personal experiences, it’s important for participants to be aware that data about them is being collected and gain informed consent beforehand — particularly for the use of passive data collection where customers’ behaviours are consistently monitored. What benefits of mobile market research have you experienced? Let us know in the comments below.