The gap is widening between panel companies that do and do not use mobile Apps to distribute surveys. Those that ‘do’ offer cost and time efficiencies that their competitors cannot match. Fast turnarounds from a responsive app-using sample mean their clients get more for the number of panellists they pay for: the sample to quota ratio is lower and fielding times are pleasingly short. Those that do also offer fresher and more interesting question types and response capture methods, for instance, video and audio uploads to collect vox pops. Meanwhile, those persisting with online sampling and survey distribution methods have fewer options at their disposal and continue to battle for attention in the panellist’s inbox.
According to Danielle Levitas, SVP of Research at App Annie, the question is no longer “Should I have an app strategy?” but rather “What do apps mean for my business?” Levitas continues, “The amount of success we’ve already seen in the app market makes it impossible to dismiss this industry as a “novelty” or “optional” any longer. Panel companies were once gauged by the size of their sample but this asset is being gradually undermined by steadily declining participation rates. The measure of a good panel company is shifting more towards the degree of engagement and participation from a sample, rather than the size of the pool from which a sample can be drawn. Without an app to stimulate that engagement, panel companies could start losing out. Given this, it is interesting to consider why so many panel companies remain without either an app for their respondents or a nascent app strategy.
The problem appears to reside in the fact that those who don’t have an app are put off by the apparent cost and complexity of hiring app developers and supporting apps. The build-your-own option seems way outside their area of competency. And cautionary tales exist from early movers who launched apps with limited scope only to find each time they add new question types or functionality they need to relaunch it to app stores. This subjects any of their client firms using the app to the same time lags and compatibility issues when the end-users fail to update their apps following new releases. Today, however, these pitfalls can easily by avoided.
For Panel companies, the path of least resistance and optimum flexibility lies in choosing a brandable third party app that is fully supported, maintained and designed to be updated without any effort on the part of the end user. This allows panel companies to concentrate on their strengths while the app suppliers maintain the functionality and user support. With the barriers to app ownership removed, we can objectively consider the benefits of App surveys that make them worth pursuing by simply asking the question, “why app surveys?”.
Online surveys have reached maturity
The glory days of sky high results, large samples and low distribution costs are gone. Basic online survey software is inexpensive, but beware, because some still don’t cater for mobile devices, which will alienate at least 50% of your respondents.
And while online survey software is widely accessible to anyone from academic researchers to a curious HR manager seeking feedback, unless you have a captive audience mandated to respond, you’ll find open and completion rates disappointingly low and slow. There is a workaround, however, you can draw attention to online surveys with SMS invitations. Which leads to the next point.
Online = Mobile Web
Since the use of mobile devices has outstripped desktop devices, both for time spent and time spent online, surveys need to be accessible wherever the devices are – and that means online and offline, whether within mobile cell coverage or not. Today if you want results, you need to make those surveys accessible during Wi-Fi downtime. App surveys can do that beautifully. The results can returned when the device is back online with minimum intervention and maximum freedom of choice on the part of the respondent. This makes App Surveys hit 10/10 on the convenience scale. Convenience is queen and, in this regard, App Surveys outshine SMS surveys and Mobile Web surveys.
Convenience Also Means Choice
If you really want to reach customers, a three-pronged attack could be your best strategy for inclusivity. Most panel companies expect to use mobile web surveys in their research, and many select SMS surveys – especially when reaching into countries with a high penetration of mobile phones but a lower penetration of daily internet usage. Apps, however, offer a third option and there is growing evidence that apps are fast becoming the audience’s preferred channel, so an engagement strategy without Apps today is a vulnerable one. Customers love choice.
Furthermore, there’s a whole generation out there: Generation Z, that grew up online, but almost exclusively online via mobile devices. The 5 to 15-year olds of today are the high spending consumers of tomorrow and by default, if you are old enough to be commissioning market research you won’t understand that generation first hand.
What’s Stopping You?
Staying safe in the online survey comfort zone will play to your cautious side, but you’re likely aware that many panel companies are already thriving by using their own Apps to distribute surveys from multiple brands to subsets of their panel base. If you’re not using apps, although the use case might be there, you may be daunted by the process of developing an App. You can sidestep this issue by using the My Surveys App from OnePoint Global, which is ready to go, and free to download from App stores. To get you going, your surveys, with your branding (or that of your customers) can be distributed to App Users on a purely experimental basis with no heavy up-front investment. The results will provide you with evidence in support of your business case to go down the App route. You can even run an A/B split sending 50% of your invitations to online surveys via good old email, and 50% to potential app users. If you do choose to make Apps central to your distribution model, you can continue using the My Surveys app or rebuild it from our free Software Development Kit (SDK) and launch it in the App stores under your own branding. This frees you up to do what you do best. Select the sample, script the survey, analyse the results, manage the client. Everything related to the App is fully managed by our experts at no cost to you.
To illustrate just how simple it is, here’s a quick walkthrough of the process. Firstly, select the sample, log on to your account and create one or more surveys. Upload your sample database then send an invitation by email or SMS to the sample, inviting them to download the My Surveys App. Once they have the App, the first survey will be waiting for them to complete and it will appear in whatever brand look and feel you choose. Once they open the App the panellist is in your brand microcosm, while you, or your survey, are in their hands. When the results are in, or when you’ve reached your quota and have closed the survey, view the results or download them for further analysis. Then you’re free to send further surveys to those app users or groups thereof.
There is no up-front fee or tie-in period. You simply get billed for each survey response so if only 2000 or 3000 panellists respond, you pay only for the 2000 responses. Any SMS messages you send are also billed at a fixed rate so budgeting for projects is straightforward and the economies can be passed on to keep your company competitive when required.
There is no limit to the number of apps or surveys you can create so, if you are looking after one brand or many, you can re-use subsets of the same participant database, or invite new participants each time to any number of differently branded surveys and you can upload new panels whenever needed.
The Question is Not Why, But Why Not
The simplicity, transparency and versatility of app surveys, both from the perspective of the researcher and that of the respondent make a compelling argument. It is for this reason that app experts around the world are urging businesses to ask not why they should use Apps and App Surveys, but why not. Given the evidence it is difficult to put a persuasive case forward as to why your business should remain out of the loop when it comes to app usage within your survey execution strategy.
Key Reasons To Use The My Surveys App.
Customer Convenience = higher response rates
- The App is guaranteed mobile and tablet friendly,
- Customers can take the survey on or offline
- Audience increasingly prefer mobile devices over desktop for online engagement
- Mobile devices, with touch friendly interfaces give a more engaging and immersive experience.
- Apps incorporate method for obtaining rich insights such as video vox pops.
Low Cost Market Testing = data for your App business case
- The App is free to you and the customer
- Running some pilot projects will give you data to compare against other channels
- You can ask respondents about their app experience and gain data over channel preference
- You’ll gain data on various aspects of app use that can build your business case for app usage.
- You can use touch screen and mobile features to capture more qualitative data
Channel Choice = Optimum reach and engagement
- Apps may align better with your brand
- They may be the best way to engage your target demographic
- They compliment other channels providing choice
- Combined with other channels your strategy is primed for faster, higher response rates.`