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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Are Smartphone Surveys Effective?

Have you postponed your annual customer survey because online surveys taken on smartphones are not meaningful? Do you believe that respondents using smartphones will be less engaged and that they will not provide meaningful answers to open-ended questions?

When carefully designed, surveys downloaded on smartphones are as versatile and as effective as surveys downloaded on PCs or tablets, writes Patrick Elms in "Challenge Your Assumptions: Optimizing questionnaire design for mobile surveys."

More than three-quarters (77%) of Americans have smartphones, and Americans open 73% of their emails on mobile devices, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. In a national survey conducted by Elms’ firm, 39% of all respondents reported using mobile devices to complete that survey, compared with nearly half of African American and Hispanic survey respondents. Here are some observations and tips from the Elms article that will help you design surveys that work on PCs/tablets and mobile devices:

It is no harder for respondents to take a survey on a phone than on a PC or tablet. Ratings for ease of taking the survey were similar regardless whether the user had a smartphone (8.8 out of 10) or a PC/tablet (8.6 out of 10).

Users of smartphones and PC/tablets were equally attentive. (86% of smartphone users read all of the text in a question and selected the correct response compared with 84% of PC/tablet users.)

Respondents with smartphones can handle large images: these users shrink large images and zoom in on small images.

Smartphone users respond the same way as PC users to open-ended questions. Surprisingly, smartphone users often provide longer answers.

Each part of a question that is presented in a grid for PC/tablet respondents should be programmed as a separate question for smartphone respondents.

Assume respondents are to rate smartphone features and functions. The grid for PC/Tablet respondents could list the following on the left: cost, battery life, ease of use, and voice recognition. The survey could have boxes along the top for respondents to check to rate the phone’s performance from 1 (poor) to 10 (outstanding). For smartphone users, split apart the question so that respondents rate each feature or benefit as a separate question. Be sure to use the same scale as you used in the grid.

People are more likely to complete a survey if it takes them less than 20 minutes. Elms found that smartphone users take 10-15% longer to complete surveys.

Why not launch a short online survey to gain insights from your customers, employees, or partners. Test the survey on PCs, tablets, and smartphones before launching. If you want to avoid the hassle with a question framed as a grid, divide it into separate questions, limiting the list of items evaluated to six or fewer separate questions.

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Winett Associates helps companies
understand their customers and markets.

Copyright © 12/18 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.


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