Survey Time

Penson hiresMark Penson, CMO of Survey Anyplace, considers the benefits of mobile market research

A friend and I were talking the other day when she told me that her first grader’s play she was attending earlier in the week was interrupted by someone’s cell phone ringing. Twice. It was my friend’s way of validating what everybody knows: mobile devices are everywhere. People use their mobile devices in bed, during meals, from the toilet, while they’re shopping, under the conference table during meetings, during labour…well, everywhere. The undeniable truth is that smartphones and tablets are our constant companions.

The fact that mobile devices are everywhere represents an unprecedented opportunity for anyone whose job it is to get feedback from other people, using these very devices. Mobile surveys – surveys created specifically for smartphones and tablets – harness that ubiquity.

Mobile surveys elicit feedback from people in situations from which they’ve never before provided insights. Imagine it, feedback from people actively engaged with your brand – something an email survey sent days or weeks after they experience your product or service will never be able to gather.

In-the-moment feedback
People access mobile surveys in several ways. Most unique is to see an invitation to provide feedback as you’re experiencing a brand, via a QR code or URL. Often, these invitations are combined with a contest or other opportunity and merely require the customers, prospects or attendees to pull out their mobiles to scan the code or enter the URL. It’s then and there that real-time, experiential feedback starts to flow. How “does” it taste, vs. a follow-up survey’s “how do you remember it tasting?” How “is” the event vs. the outdated “how was your memory of the event?” Mobile surveys facilitate this in-the-moment feedback.

Because your stakeholders are providing their feedback via 3G or 4G and wi-fi-enabled devices, as soon as they hit ‘Done’ on your survey, their insights are deposited into a secure online account. This is a boon for event planners who want feedback they can use to make instant adjustments to venue amenities or a presenter’s material.

HR departments using mobile surveys to gauge employees’ understanding of important training can literally delay the class’ dismissal if they realize from survey results that an important topic was overlooked or inadequately presented. No passing out and collecting surveys. No scanning in responses. No mall intercepts. No collating and analyzing. Mobile surveys are also instant surveys.

Mobile surveys can ferret out information in situations and forms simply unimaginable with online surveys. Today’s devices all have hi-def still imaging and video capabilities. All can connect to the internet to instantly upload a survey respondent’s answers, with multimedia supporting evidence.

Social content
All this is possible right now. It’s all being done today by savvy brands. Imagine the owner of a furniture store asking a customer via mobile survey, in their living room, to take a photo of their new leather chair while they’re relating how satisfied they are with their purchase. That photo also represents instant multimedia content for websites and social media properties like Facebook, Pinterest and more.

Collecting contact information at events, along with individual insights from attendees, is simple, too. Use the tablet or smartphone’s camera to take a picture of an attendee’s business card that is automatically read and transferred to the respondent’s record. It beats having to type it in manually after the show or paying someone else to. During expos in countries with electronic national ID cards, ID readers attached to tablets make it very easy to include the visitors’ name and address in your survey, again without having to type it all in.

Smartphones now out-sell PCs. There will be 750m tablet computers in use within a couple of years. Clearly, your customers, prospects and employees are connected to the rest of the world via mobile. It makes sense that your connection to them is via the same familiar, ubiquitous device. The future of data collection…is on the move.

Mark Penson is CMO of Survey Anyplace