Paper surveys have probably been around since papyrus. We’ve always been interested to know what others were thinking, right? We’ve all seen the surveyors at the grocery store, armed with their clipboards, intercepting folks lugging bags out to their cars to ask about products and services. In-home surveys came via parcel post, in overstuffed envelopes, asking us about everything from private businesses to the city’s new urbanization plans.
As PCs became more popular, so did online surveys. While they improved ease of distribution compare to paper, e-mail surveys still left a lot of qualitative room for improvement. People are busy when they’re online, doing any number of things that have nothing to do with waiting to take a survey. Alas, harried shoppers, people sorting their mail, and overworked employees are not ideal survey candidates. After all, the more reasons you give them to avoid your survey the less likely you are to get valuable feedback– if you get any feedback at all.
When e-mail surveys don’t automatically land in a recipient’s junk mail folder, they’re often ushered there by the very person it was intended for. It’s no wonder that e-mail response rates are off the wrong end of the charts and getting further afield. When responses do come in, the value of the information is limited. Why? No sense of immediacy exists between the brand interaction and the customer’s actually answering the survey. The business has to collect the e-mail address, get the e-mail to the right department or outside resource to add to the database, and then work it into the survey stream. If the e-mail address is accurate, and if the survey doesn’t land in the trash, an e-mail survey often lingers for days before the recipient gets around to answering it.
Time-sensitive consumer insights are lost, like the nuances of a meal or event. The value of the insights and the details consumers can recall decrease as the time between their experience and answering your survey increases. Clearly, e-mail surveys’ role in collecting viable, valuable consumer feedback to inform marketing and other functions is limited at best. At worst, it’s a waste of time and money. There is a better way.
Fewer and fewer people leave their homes without a smartphone or tablet these days, accompanying them down the store aisles, into car dealerships, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, educational settings, and events. A modern, convenient mobile survey, quiz or contest during this experience can feel like a natural part of the experience itself. Without even an app to install, mobile surveys and quizzes use familiar swiping, keyboarding and taking photos that consumers do countless times a day with their mobiles. They capture the previously missing sense of immediacy while delivering – in real time – once hard-to-collect, in-the-moment insights.
Consumer research has for too long been overly serious. It needn’t be. With mobile surveys, you can collect invaluable insights by engaging your audience with a fun challenge, quirky quiz, contest, or simply the prospect of publicity. You don’t need their e-mail or cell phone number, just a provocative proposition.
Many studies confirm that customers are willing to tell about their experiences with brands. This willingness shouldn’t come at a price of interrupting work or diverting them from tasks in which they’re already engaged. And if you think the information you seek is valuable – and in-the-moment information certainly is – reward those who respond. Rewards can come in the form of valuable coupons or discounts, free products, and even their appearance with your product or at your event on your Facebook (News - Alert) or Pinterest pages.
The days of passive, tedious e-mail surveys that don’t capture the immediacy of the interaction with your product or service are over. Simply access ubiquitous mobile devices, and engage and learn from your customers and prospects as never before.
Mark Penson is CMO of Survey Anyplace Mobile Surveys (www.surveyanyplace.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi