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Ray Beharry

Why Mobile Market Research Is Effective (and Cheap!)

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Ray Beharry
Why Mobile Market Research Is Effective (and Cheap!)

Surveys have guided political candidates, businesses, and advertisers for decades. Today, however, they’re facing an existential crisis.

Twenty years ago, the number of households that had a landline phone included, roughly, all of them. That’s no longer the case. Cell phones and email have eroded the effectiveness of the former gold standards of traditional surveying, random digit dialing via phone and mail-in surveys.

To illustrate, the Pew Research Center had a 36 percent response rate to its telephone surveys in 1997. By 2014, it had dropped to just 8 percent.

In-person interviews and focus groups are still effective, but those methods are even more costly. Fortunately for marketing agencies, the same technology that rendered conventional survey methods less useful also offers a compelling solution.

Digital channels, particularly mobile, improve audience reach, reduce costs, and deliver value to the market researcher with unprecedented speed and convenience.

Mobile Moves Fast

Traditional survey methods take time and often have to be farmed out to third-party vendors. The old adage is true: Time is money. Agencies need to be responsive, up-to-date, and on the cutting edge.

Take a successful campaign by Kellogg’s, for example.

Rather than commit upfront to a huge ad buy, its marketing team members ran ads in small batches, then conducted mobile surveys to get real-time feedback on their effectiveness. That data helped them fine-tune their targeting, resulting in a fivefold return on their investment.

The standard timeline is fundamentally different with mobile. You’ll be able to launch a limited-release ad after breakfast, gather mobile survey data about it by lunch, use that data to put together an optimal combination of text, video, and images, and launch a large-scale campaign to a lookalike audience before dinner.

Mobile Extends Reach

Advertising is about getting your content in front of the largest target audience possible. Traditional market research methods — customer databases, recruiting, and panelists — can only take you so far in matching demographics, psychographics, and attitudes for a specific subject.

Mobile surveys add another layer of screening criteria that allow you to choose from a variety of passive data points, even targeting users based on their personas.

Not all mobile surveys are created equal, however.

When you’re dealing with short attention spans, you need to know exactly what you want to discover and craft no more than 10 questions to glean that information.

Keep surveys short, less than 140 characters, and list them in prioritized order — 80 percent of people will quit a survey halfway in.

Research shows 95 percent of marketing content makes virtually no impact. Done right, mobile surveys allow you to increase the relevancy of your content for your audience and avoid the pitfall of being ignored.

Mobile Costs Less

If a product comes out that’s better and faster than the competition’s, it’s typically more expensive — not so with mobile.

The key to the technology is the mobile app network. We’re all used to seeing ad-supported online surveys. These ads are annoyingly displayed to random audiences, and the price is based on the click-through rate, which means you don’t know the cost ahead of time.

With a mobile app network, you get a guaranteed price and guaranteed results — you’ll only pay for completed surveys from your target audience.

Mobile Is Convenient

You don’t want to have to learn another language to get results. Instead, you can use simple online tools with responsive live support for the occasional question.

If speed is king, simplicity is queen.

These resources will become even more essential as fewer young people move into the field. Agencies won’t have the man-hours to invest in training on complex technologies.

The trend away from landlines and snail mail isn’t stopping, while the demand for high-quality market research continues to grow. That’s why mobile marketing now outpaces traditional methods in the marketer’s tool kit.

Custom research is expensive, but by unlocking the power of the smartphone economy, your agency can do better work — meaning more of it, in less time, and within your budget.

Ray Beharry


Ray Beharry is an accomplished leader with a passion for providing and marketing technologies that engage, enrich, and empower others. Ray’s areas of expertise collide in his position as head of marketing at Pollfish, a company whose online survey tool helps businesses make educated decisions by providing relevant, meaningful, and customizable consumer opinion data in real time. He also serves as an adjunct instructor of marketing at New York University, is a mentor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s startup incubator, and is a board member of the MMRA.
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