The Mobile Imperative: Optimize All Your Surveys
The next time you field an online survey, take a look at the metadata, which will tell you the operating systems respondents are using and the devices on which they are completing the survey. You may be surprised. In our most recent general population survey, which included adults in a two-county region of a “non-tech” area of the country, nearly one in five (17%) completed the survey on a mobile device. That included 8% who completed on smartphones, and 9% who used tablets. These respondents were recruited through a regular online panel, not a mobile panel.
Fortunately we were using a platform that optimizes survey delivery for the device being used. The survey looked great on desktops, phones, and tablets, and it was just as easy to read and complete on any one of them. Moving to this platform was a decision we made just recently, and if we had not used that platform, chances are we would have lost those 17% of respondents who completed the survey on a mobile device. The feasibility of the study and the representativeness of our sample would surely have been compromised.
This experience is changing how we think about designing and delivering surveys. Mobile surveys are no longer an option distinct from “regular” online surveys. They are no longer an option at all. All design considerations, sampling issues, and programming rules that used to apply only to mobile surveys are now becoming part of our standard survey protocols.
So, just as quickly as mobile phones are replacing landlines (requiring a dramatic shift when it comes to phone surveys), so too are mobile options supplementing desktop options. The need for device-neutral surveys is now essential.