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Everyone in research is talking the mobile talk, but walking the mobile walk isn't as easy as it should be. Providing a great experience for people participating in your research on mobile requires more than just a responsive platform.

Below are a few reasons people may not participate in mobile research and how insight professionals can address them:

  1. People don't know that they could or should respond via mobile.

Until recently, most surveys and discussions haven't been mobile-friendly. When people attempted to answer surveys or to participate in forums using their phones, the process required too much pinching and zooming. That's why many respondents are conditioned into thinking that they should respond to studies using their desktop or laptops only.

If you want people to answer your survey while they are using their smartphone, then letting them know they can is the first step. Mention it in your email's body and subject and in your instructions in the first page of your survey or discussion forum.

  1. Your questions are too long and not specific enough.

Unlike desktops, mobile phones provide very little screen real estate to give instructions. If people open your study and all they see is a bunch of text, they could get turned off. Do your studies require scrolling too much to read your questions? Then you might not get the answers you're looking for.

Keep your questions short but also specific. In your instructions, identify the sliver of information that you actually care about. So instead of asking, "why did you visit the store today?" something like "when you went to the store and bought detergent, what criteria did you use?" will work a lot better.

If you have lengthy grids in your survey, consider grouping the rows by topic and asking across several questions sprinkled throughout your survey to limit scrolling and prevent respondent fatigue.

People usually participate in mobile surveys and discussion forums while they are on the go. The more you can make your objectives clear, the quicker and easier it will be for people to respond.

  1. You're asking too many questions.

When people answer a mobile survey or a mobile discussion, they typically have only a few moments to spare. They might be multi-tasking or they could be out and about. Given the amount of time they have on their hands, it's unrealistic to ask people to do studies that last for more than a few minutes.

Shorter but more frequent studies can help encourage people to participate without compromising how much data you collect. You can still learn a lot about the members of your community by doing it incrementally through a series of short surveys or questions.

  1. You're asking about a past or hypothetical experience.

One of the key benefits of doing mobile research is that people can describe their experience while they are actually in the midst of doing it. Smartphones get people to provide responses based on their momentary reactions rather than relying on recall. Take advantage of mobile's ability to collect in-the-moment responses by phrasing your questions in the present tense. When done right, linking surveys and discussions to real-time experiences can help uncover interesting insights you may not have thought of.

Asking in-the-moment questions has another benefit: it helps build rapport with your community. As people don't have to take the time to try to remember a past experience, they can complete the survey or discussion more quickly.

  1. Your platform doesn't support multi-media.

For some time now, people have been able to submit photos to communities using their desktop. But this has always been a cumbersome process. People needed to upload the photo to their desktop (from their phone or from a digital camera) and then they had to upload those photos from their computer to the community.

Smartphones make the process a lot faster and convenient. With one click, people can share photos immediately after taking it. (Just make sure your question reminds people that they need permission before sharing photos of others.)

Asking for photos has another benefit: it gets people to share what they see without self-editing their comments. Insight professionals still need to determine if the photos are significant and relevant to their studies, but the experience is much more convenient for the people in the community.

  1. The transition from surveys to discussions is clunky.

Doing qualitative and quantitative studies on mobile goes beyond having a mobile-responsive platform for both: the two options need to work synergistically. (That's why Vision Critical recently made the integration between its mobile discussions and surveys more seamless and responsive.)

Think about your research objectives to make sure that the workflow makes sense. Should you get all respondents to participate in the discussion, or can you get away with just inviting a segment based on their responses to your survey? Research basics still apply when doing a mobile study.

As these examples show, using a platform that is responsive to different mobile sizes and operating systems isn't everything you need in your mobile research. In fact, it's just one of the prerequisites. Being mindful of your study's and questions length - and considering people's complete mobile experience - helps you gather better insights while building a stronger rapport with your community.

Want to know more about how you can use mobile to get to know your customers? Learn more about how Vision Critical can help.

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