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Mobile research defies the odds. It is one of those times where making a survey longer and slower to take, actually results in people having more fun.

We've conducted a number of studies of how, when and why people like to do mobile surveys and much of it boils down to this: if you reach people with a survey when they want to do it, on the device they want to do it on, they will be happy. So happy, in fact, that they completely overlook the fact it took 50% longer to do the survey on a mobile.

Give me choice

Mobile phone owners want to have a choice between doing their survey on a mobile device or a desktop completion. We saw this very clearly in some recent research.

We asked a sample of iPhone and Android owners to complete a survey. Some were told they had to do it on their mobile. Others were told they had to do it on their desktop. What happened next surprised us: 6 out of 10 of those instructed to complete the survey on their mobile either tried to do it from a computer (and were blocked) or just gave up, after opening the invite and starting the study. They clearly wanted to do it with their device of choice - and at that moment it wasn't their mobile.

When, in another study, we gave a sample of smartphone owners a choice between mobile or desktop and we found 11% chose mobile. The rest did it desktop. Why? Because that's where they were: on their computer answering email. Alternately, those who did it mobile were more likely to be on the road. Either way, it is about giving them a choice to do the study where they are, when they want to do it. It makes them happy.

How Happy?

Doing a survey on a mobile device takes 50% longer, on average, than it does on a computer. The smaller interface, load times and lots of other factors all conspire to make a 10 minute desktop survey a 15 minute exercise on a smartphone, and even longer on a Blackberry.

Usually, the longer the survey, the less enjoyable it becomes for the respondent. And that has negative effects on data quality and response rates and panel membership andÛ_you get the picture.

But we found that when people made the choice to do a survey by mobile, they were significantly more likely to strongly agree that the survey was "fun" and "more enjoyable than most", compared to people completing the survey on a desktop. All this, despite the fact the survey took 10 minutes on a desktop and 15 minutes on a mobile device.

And this brings us to the moral of the story: the key to mobile research is to give people choice. Meet them where they are, when they want. It makes them happy. And a happy respondent is a good respondent.

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