Mobile Research 2012 – Updates and Best Practices

2012 will be the year of mobile research – as marketers try to reach the increasingly elusive consumer on-the-move.

And, if you think mobile research is tough now, consider this … “Mobile research hasn’t been defined yet”.

That’s the assessment of Dr. Tim Snaith,  researcher, customer service expert and co-founder of OnePoint Global -  one of the leading edge mobile research companies figuring out best practices in this rapidly evolving field.

Tim is working to define mobile research – with an innovative turn-key solution for reaching your mobile customers right when you want them.

And, he gets excited when he talks about how mobile phone research can get you closer to the customer, faster and more effectively.

In a recent interview, he gave an example of how granular and powerful mobile research can be. It drills right down into the customer who is making a purchase in real time.

He says,  “We can reach the customer in lots of ways. They might have already opted-in to the research from a panel, or just scanned a QR code on some form of marketing communication or simply responded to an in-store offer to text a keyword.”

Once they have agreed to participate, the mobile research begins. Here’s how it works…

“We might identify a customer in a store by using geo-location and then ask ‘What products are you looking at right now? Please barcode scan the one(s) you’re considering and then scan the one(s) you buy.’

As soon as our server sees the barcode, we ask the customer why they bought that particular product out of all those they considered. If the customer is using SMS, they might get 6 quick questions on their phone – one at a time. If they use mobile web or the OnePoint app, we can ask them even more.

Regardless of the type of phone they’ve got, the answers will be immediately used as real time feedback to help the client with pricing, product placement, packaging, and the product itself.”

Using this methodology, changes designed to increase sales and service can be made in minutes, not hours, due to real-time management alerts.

However, in spite of its benefits, Tim cautions that mobile research “is not a replacement for the 4 major research methodologies -  online, phone (CATI), mail, or face to face”.

Rather, he sees mobile research as a ‘the 5th methodology’, an essential addition to the multimodal toolkit for a 21st Century marketer. It can be used as a stand alone tool where the process requires it or as a very powerful addition to other methods.

But, getting it right isn’t always easy.

That’s why Tim’s team keeps updating and tweaking their mobile research software based on each new study they do. He sees it as the only way to stay ahead of the pack.

OnePoint went so far as to make their research software backward compatible so that it works not only on a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android but also on older handsets that are still in use by as many as 40% of Americans and most of the developing world.

And, so far, this approach is working.

For example, OnePoint Global did a study for 100 retail stores in LA. When customers scanned a QR code in a store, if their handset was set to Spanish, the OnePoint Global software immediately offered up a Spanish language survey.

They even customized the survey so that if customers scanned the code at a specific time (such as early morning), they were asked different questions than if they scanned at a different time.  This allowed the retailer to test different offers at different times of the day.

Even better, it seems that survey takers like it. Tim likes to brag that OnePoint Global is able to generate “unrivalled completion rates of 55%+ with 80% completed within two hours of interaction”.

In other words, more than half the mobile customers take the survey and 80% have completed in two hours – with data immediately available in the client’s online account.

For now, Tim is exploring every opportunity available for his software. OnePoint Global is willing  to ‘white label’ the software for any client. They already do this for 6 of the top 7 global research agencies  as well as  leading global brands.

They offer apps that help ‘panel’ companies do geo-located instant research and can even capture inbound, or serve up pictures or video very quickly if a client wants to evaluate something visual.

It’s an exciting new area of research that is still in its infancy.

When asked, “What is the best process for mobile research?”, Tim simply says, “Engage the consumer without them feeling like they were being spammed.”

To date, their best practices appear to be…

Ideal survey time is 1-3 minutes. The process is important.  Ask and offer an incentive.  Something like,  “Answer our 6 question survey and we’ll give you a reward.”

The reward needs to cover any ‘reply’ cost that respondents incur as well as the value of their time. For those using panel based responses, it’s easy to deposit ‘rewards’ directly into the panelists account.

Tim says, “We want people to look forward to the next mobile survey.  So keep it short.” He adds, “A mobile survey is a double edged sword. If you abuse it, people will cut you off.”

So far, no one seems to be cutting OnePoint Global off.

Tim is happy to report, “Clients double every year and we have a 98% retention rate. Our cost per complete is low, and we are constantly focused on how to make it really easy for the person who completes the survey and really efficient for the client who sends it out.”

With his eye focused firmly on customer satisfaction, Tim and his team are part of the movement that is helping to ‘define’ the emerging field of mobile research in 2012.

2 Responses to “Mobile Research 2012 – Updates and Best Practices”

  1. John/Taran,
    Thank you for sharing this information about the state of mobile research. It’s comforting to know that even the bigger players consider the field of mobile research as still being undefined.

    I’m in complete agreement with most of this article: the importance and value of mobile as a research tool; as well as the brevity of the survey. I don’t agree with the part about the necessity of a reward.

    Dan Pink has a good book dealing with the subject of rewards. It’s called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” ( It’s well worth the read IMHO.

    From a first-person perspective about rewards, I can tell you that I am on a GO Transit panel in Toronto, Canada. I don’t answer their surveys because of a reward – I answer the survey because I want to help improve the GO Transit system.

    What GO Transit is really good at is the actual implementation (taking action) of the changes they survey their panel about. For me, as a daily user of the transit system, that is reward enough.

  2. Thanks Earle. I appreciate your comments. And, I’m delighted that we are both fans of Daniel Pink!

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