By Brandon Lee: Solutions Consultant

When Steve Jobs debuted the first modern smartphone at the Macworld convention in 2007, few could predict the revolutionary impact that these powerful handheld devices would have on the world.  Skeptics at the time included Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s then-CEO, who is famously quoted for saying “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.  No chance.”

Now in 2018, smart-phones and mobile devices have successfully penetrated the market with about 80% of Americans owning internet-capable smart-phone devices.  The modern smartphone, with its Internet-readiness, computing power, and accessibility has granted the average consumer the ability to easily access information and interact with the internet wherever they are: waiting in line, relaxing on their couch, or on their way to work.

Our increasingly mobile-first world is also backed by some interesting trends in mobile internet usage: eMarketer reports that the average US mobile user spends more than 4 hours on their mobile device a day, with about 80% of that time being spent in-app.

The importance of mobile experiences

Our mobile-first world and its effects on consumers’ expectations present both an opportunity and challenge for businesses.  If the smart-phone is synonymous with everyday life, then it’s clear that businesses must provide an ideal mobile experience to establish a profitable, long-term relationship with their consumers.  Those that fail to establish such a presence may fall behind.

Businesses can build stronger customer relationships by establishing a seamless, omnichannel experience for their brand. A study by Fetch found that a positive mobile experience equates to a better consumer relationship with the brand, with 67% of mobile consumers trusting a brand more if they provided a good mobile site or experience.

Conversely, consumers are unforgiving when it comes to bad online mobile experiences. This same study found that more than 70% of mobile consumers would leave a mobile site if it loaded too slowly or if it was difficult to navigate on a small screen.

What has mobile meant for research?

 Mobile technology has made an undeniable impact on our world and various industries–market research is no exception.   Smartphones are easily the most personal piece of technology that someone can own, and they are never too far away.  With this constant connection, researchers can connect with respondents at any time to gather rich-contextual insights.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the GRIT report is reporting that “mobile first surveys” are in use at the majority of market research departments, with other mobile research techniques such as “mobile qualitative” and “mobile ethnography” ranking in the top 10 techniques in both current use and level of interest.

Smartphones make research easier. Respondents can easily share real-time moments with the use of photo and video capture and make rich, contextual mobile ethnographies highly accessible.

Outside of the context of ethnographic studies, businesses that make effective use of mobile are securing another channel for consumers’ attention. Mobile helps maximize the quality and number of responses while studies are out in the field.

Advantages of mobile research

“Mobile research” is a broad term that can consist of mobile surveys and research that is conducted through a dedicated mobile app environment.

Both contain the following characteristics:

  • Convenient – Engage respondents on their terms — while they wait in line or visit a location.
  • Easy – Studies conducted on mobile devices take short attention spans and smaller screen sizes into account to deliver easy and intuitive research experiences.
  • Fast – Deliver faster, more accurate results and bypass inaccurate recollection through in-the-moment engagement and research.
  • Personal – Mobile devices make it easy for community members to share the context of their lives and decisions by providing rich user-generated content such as photo, video, and audio.

How can a mobile app set you apart?

Just like today’s modern consumer is no stranger to smart-phone technology, mobile apps have pervaded our everyday lives to make things so much easier.  Uber and Lyft enable on-demand transportation. Venmo enables instantaneous payments between friends and colleagues, and the large majority of companies with a digital presence, offer a dedicated mobile app experience by default.

What about research being conducted within a dedicated mobile app environment?  Mobile app research environments like those provided by Fuel Cycle can enable the following:

  • A reliable and controlled research experience — A mobile app-based research environment guarantees a better experience for respondents and better overall results for researchers by delivering an optimized mobile experience.
  • Strengthened consumer relationships — A branded app experience for your dedicated customers and advocates.  The Fuel Cycle mobile app provides a platform for community members to reliably engage and “check-in” with the brands they care about.
  • Rewards and instant gratification for respondents — Gamify your research with points and enable seamless reward redemptions in-app.
  • Seamless multi-channel experience — Activities and research projects designed in your Fuel Cycle community are seamlessly made available on the mobile app for your community members on the go.
  • Additional research functionality — Take advantage of geo-targeted activities, video in-depth interviews and push notifications.

Fuel Cycle communities are collections of passionate and available research participants that are ready and willing to provide brands with the feedback that they need to power their entire research lifecycle.  Maximize your reach and connection with this audience by offering them a dedicated mobile app experience to engage them anytime, anywhere.