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    Adopting a Mobile-First Approach to Your Surveys Will Optimize Data Quality

    Mark Simon, Managing Director, North America/Managing Director, Toluna Digital

    The uptick in worldwide smartphone usage is a widely discussed topic in market research as companies compete for consumer attention in an increasingly mobile world.

    The highly coveted — and difficult to reach — younger population prefers to participate via mobile devices, and they’re not alone, many look to respond to surveys via mobile.  For this reason, surveys that are limited to respondents who use laptops or desktops may not be as representative of the population as device agnostic surveys that tap a broader audience.

    Some traditional market researchers shy away from mobile-optimized surveys citing beliefs that mobile respondents won’t provide thoughtful or insightful responses, or that mobile respondents are more likely to be fraudulent. These fears, however, are unwarranted.

    Let’s take a look at the key findings of a recent study that illuminate the differences — and similarities — between survey respondents and their devices.

    Devices and Demographics

    A recent Toluna study invited respondents to complete a 20-minute survey with eight lengthy grids on their device of choice.

    The study found that younger respondents, particularly younger females, were more likely to use a mobile device to answer the survey, while older males were more likely to use a desktop. The stark contrast between these population segments underscores the importance of using device agnostic surveys to increase the representativeness of your samples for market research studies.

    Other key findings of the study include:

    • Interview duration was similar regardless of device: an average of 23 minutes for mobile respondents and about 18 minutes for desktop/laptop respondents.
    • Dropout behavior was also similar across devices. Sixty percent of dropouts from the desktop link occurred within the first 2 to 3 minutes, while the same percentage dropped out of the mobile link in the first 6 to 7 minutes.
    • Respondents with a higher personal income were more likely to take the survey from a desktop/laptop.
    • Mobile respondents were actually less likely than desktop/laptop respondents to be identified as straightliners in the grid questions.
    • Mobile respondents were more diverse in their answers to behavioral and attitudinal questions and self-identify as concerned about more issues than desktop/laptop respondents.
    • Mobile users are more likely to notice advertising and more likely to take action after viewing advertising.
    • Mobile users are more likely to spend time on the Internet outside of their homes.

    The Takeaways

    Giving respondents a positive experience for taking surveys on their mobile devices will help your business reach a broader range of the population — particularly younger respondents and female respondents — and there is no reason to fear that mobile respondents will be more fraudulent or that their answers will be less insightful.

    By implementing device agnostic surveys, you can better reach a broader spectrum of consumers and be more confident in your findings knowing that your sample is the most representative it can be.

    Follow these best practices for device agnostic surveys:

    • Ask only absolutely necessary questions.
    • Shorten the text in questions and prompts.
    • Simplify survey logic when possible.
    • Limit the number of open-ended questions.
    • Avoid complex, tedious questions.
    • Avoid complex grids.
    • Avoid images that are too detailed or videos, as these may rely on mobile data and not load properly for respondents.
    • Avoid scrolling, particularly horizontal scrolling.
    • Make survey templates engaging and fun to answer on a small screen.

    To learn more, download the complete white paper, Understanding Mobile Respondents vs. Desktop Respondents, The Need for Device Agnostic Surveys.