Getting Mobile Customers to Talk

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Duff Anderson, SVP of Active Research, iPerceptions
Duff Anderson, SVP of Active Research, iPerceptions

Mobile has well and truly arrived—not just for marketing promotions, email, and content, but also for customer research. Pew Research found that 63% of cell phone owners now use their phones to go online. Forrester's  “How US Consumers Shop on Mobile Devices” report predicts that sales on mobile devices will top $17 billion in 2014. This means that understanding mobile customers' needs and wants will be essential as mobile takes a bigger proportion of sales. A recent study analyzing the mobile trends by Econsultancy found that mobile use is intent-based or task-orientated. This puts the need to conduct research to understand customer intent on mobile devices front and center.

So are you ready for the mobile evolution? Here are four tips to help you get the most out of your mobile research.

1. Capture customer insights in the ‘Moment of Truth'

To collect reliable and accurate data it is essential to collect insights from customers in the “moment of truth” (i.e. at the most critical time in their browsing/shopping experience)—because it is the point where the experience is most vivid and recall is at its highest. A Harvard Business Review article highlighted that, “By better understanding the magic moments that our customers have with our brands, we can identify the most profitable opportunities to improve our customer interaction.”

An example of what not to do: I was recently browsing my favorite news site on my cell and an invitation to take a survey pop-up and I accepted. (Disclaimer: I usually always participate in these studies not only because I work for a research company but I know how valuable my insights can be for the company.) I was then directed to a page that asked for my mobile number or email and I would be texted or emailed the survey. Not only is this outside the experience, and in the case of emailing the survey could be days after the experience, but would probably yield extremely low responses. So, to ensure reliable and accurate insights about the customer experience engage at the moment of truth. 

2. Use a true pre-post methodology

A pre-post methodology is when you ask a customer on arrival to your site if they would like to take a survey at the end of their visit. This methodology provides a more balanced view of your website visitors, which may not occur if you invite only on exit, for example.  A negative bias may occur when asking only on exit because visitors who had a bad experience may be more inclined to take a survey, than those who had a good experience. So when conducting mobile research it's best to use a pre-post method for a balance view of the customer experience.

3. Make sure your survey is optimized for mobile

To get customers to take your survey and provide their valuable input it must be optimized for the device they're using. This might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many websites have the most amazing mobile site only to have an ugly, non-optimized survey running. Also, remember to consider the way people answer questions. Avoid rating questions with complicated or long scales and ranking questions (“place these items in order of…”). The best questions for mobile are single or multi-select questions as they are easier to answer on smaller screen sizes. 

4. Keep it short

Just like with a mobile site, mobile research should be short, sweet, and to the point. Not only is the screen smaller, but people usually have less patience and won't answer 100 questions. We found that the average completion time of a mobile survey is 2.2 minutes versus 4.8 for a desktop survey.

The best place to start when designing your survey for mobile, as with any research, is using a framework. Frameworks keeps your research focused on your business objectives and structured for business results. By having your objectives front and center you will only have the most pertinent questions in your survey, keeping it short. Another way to keep your survey short is to use skip logic. Skip logic is also a great way to ensure your that research is engaging and tailor-made to the respondent. 

This year, as you start to focus more on your mobile properties such as your mobile-optimized website, remember that the best decisions are founded on data. And in the words of Michael Bloomberg, recently retired New York mayor and businessman, “In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data.”

Duff Anderson is SVP of Active Research at iPerceptions

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