The concept and goals of market research panels are evolving due to the availability of expanding online technologies, and how these technologies aid in panelist recruitment, engagement and retention. Dynamic functionality is now often required in order to keep panelists regularly participating in various research initiatives, and in recent years the panel research community has become a primary tool for sustaining this engagement. Simultaneously, smartphones and tablets are becoming integral to the everyday lives of consumers. Most researchers agree that research communities should allow for full mobile device interaction, but few communities actually do. Now is time – in fact it is past time – for all research communities to go mobile.
The evidence that respondents are using mobile devices to participate in market research is already substantial. At Kinesis, we now see more than 30% of our survey traffic coming from mobile devices, and other research software providers indicate that their mobile traffic is now anywhere between 10-20%, depending on the platform. Since research communities are often a vehicle for posting new research projects, as well as the landing pages for respondents once they have completed them, it is now imperative that all community functions be mobile-enabled.
Adding to the demand is the natural synergy between research communities and traditional social media websites. The leading social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) provide interactive functionality that is highly similar to the functionality of research communities – personalized member profiles, news/activity feeds, discussion forums, media sharing, quick polls, etc. are readily accessible from mobile devices for the leading social media sites, so users have come to expect that this support is available on all websites that they visit. Not providing these common features in a “device agnostic” fashion most certainly has a negative impact on community members’ engagement. Longer term, it will also cause significant non-response bias within the data collected via the community.
Active and thriving communities provide significant research data that cannot be obtained through surveys alone. Multiple research initiatives can be managed from a single community, with a dynamic balance of both quantitative and qualitative elements. Because community members typically must sign in to the community prior to any interactions, historical data and trends about each community member can be married to their feedback as well. Mobile device support only enhances these community benefits, by providing additional flexibility and a real-time data collection mechanism.
All companies that utilize communities as part of their market research initiatives must take immediate steps to support mobile device interaction. How to implement this support is a topic that Kinesis President Leslie Townsend will address as part of NewMR’s Research Communities virtual event being held March 15. She will discuss how community providers can go about introducing the necessary mobile features and functionality; topics include available technologies, recruitment modes, incentive models, support requirements, and use of social media and qualitative elements. Click here for more information and to register for this free event.