Key Considerations for Implementing a Mobile Engagement Strategy W h i t e P a pe r Embrace mobile technologies to engage your customers
2IntroductionThe rate of adoption of mobile phones and mobile devices in the last ten years representsone of the greatest innovations in technology, in terms of global expansion and speed. Moreimportant than the technological change, though, is the change in behavior and expectationsthat mobile has driven among consumers and businesses users alike.The immediate and agile nature of mobile communication, and the ability to keep interactionsbrief but effective, means people can achieve more in less time. What’s more, they can do thiswhenever and wherever convenient—unrestricted by the traditional constraints of workinghours, desktop access, travel and leisure time.As a result, mobile devices are becoming increasingly pervasive, even in emerging markets,and are often the preferred method of communication for many users, particularly those intraditionally hard-to-reach groups such as the youth market.This growth trend shows no sign of slowing down. Mobile subscribers grew by approximately1.5 billion globally in 2011 to more than 5.9 billion, which represents around 87% of the world’spopulation. It is predicted that in 2012 this number will exceed 7 billion.1This sea-change in technology and behavior is having a major impact upon the wayorganizations conduct their business, particularly in terms of how they communicate with theircustomers, employees and other stakeholders.So, what does this mean for organizations and departments who conduct Voice of theCustomer programs, Market Research studies, and other feedback campaigns? Well, in simpleterms, it means that if they haven’t already done so, they need to quickly implement ways toserve their customers and audiences ‘on the go’, or risk losing them to a competitor who haswholeheartedly embraced the mobile channel.This paper looks at some of the key considerations for organizations seeking to understand theimpact of the mobile channel on their business, and wishing to implement mobile engagementstrategies. It also summarizes how mobile engagement can help them move from monologto dialog with their customers, respondents or key audiences, and as a result build moreprofitable, long-term relationships.The Impact of Mobile on Customer Experience and ResearchThe trend in soaring mobile adoption rates is being seen globally and is continuing to gatherpace. Analysts estimate that mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines by more than 5times, (and more so in developing nations), while mobile broadband subscriptions are doublethose of fixed broadband subscriptions. It is no surprise then, that most experts believe mobileinternet usage will surpass desktop internet usage by 2014 or 2015.2 Many regions now showa penetration rate of more than 100 percent, meaning individuals often use more than onemobile phone (e.g. personal and professional).1 International Telecommunications Union, November 2011, via mobiThinking.com2 International Telecommunications Union, November 2011, via mobiThinking.com
3Even emerging regions show remarkable coverage, such as Africa with 52 percent of thepopulation. The growth of the tablet market, including the iPad and the plethora of Androidtablets, also comes to inflate these figures.In the shift to supplant landline telecoms, mobile has simultaneously caused a profoundcultural change in customer behavior and attitudes. The mobile-enabled population of todayexpects any interaction on their mobile device to be timely and relevant. For providers of goodsand services, this means that communication via mobile channels must happen at the instant(or very quickly after) a purchase, event, or other experience takes place. The communicationmust also be brief yet engaging. Otherwise, the mobile user can simply choose not to respond,or, worse, take their business elsewhere in future.What organizations need to recognize is that mobile is unique in giving individuals the ability toconnect anytime, anywhere, and therefore empowers them to be ‘in charge’. Many brands havealready caught up with this potential market, enabling their customers to interact and buy fromthem via mobile devices. But it doesn’t stop at m-commerce. According to a study conducted bymarketing agency Knotice, over 27% of emails are now opened on mobile phones or tablets.3The next and more significant step for organizations is therefore to tap into mobile engagementas a means of getting the attention of their customers and to measure and improve thecustomer experience for long-term profit and business growth.Why, then, haven’t more businesses and research agencies already put in place mobileengagement strategies for customer feedback and research? In the Market Research industry,for example, only 15% of businesses have adjusted their surveys to make them suitable forsmartphones, and 30% have no policy for smartphones at all.4The truth is, for most customer insight specialists and Market Researchers, implementingmobile engagement is a complex challenge. It is not simply a question of adding mobile as anew and separate communications channel. There are many considerations, both strategic andfunctional, such as: • How to fully integrate mobile technologies with existing feedback processes • How to merge ‘in-the-moment’ mobile feedback with historical data and other feedback to maintain the integrity of studies completed in the past • Judging where mobile engagement can add most value and relevance to wider programs • Adapting existing surveys, or creating new surveys specifically for mobile devices to ensure quality, appearance and usability • How to store and report on the vast amounts of text-based and unstructured data, such as photo, video and audio, that mobile engagement generates.This list is only the tip of the iceberg, and the challenges vary from organization to organization,dependent on the types of programs and the audiences involved. We will explore some of the3 Econsultancy.com blog, Graham Charlton, April 20124 Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey 2011, Tim Macer and Sheila Wilson, meaning ltd, March 2012
4challenges to implementing mobile engagement later in this document. Before we do, though,we need to understand why the opportunities brought by mobile are simply too great to ignore.I. Mobile Engagement Benefits and OpportunitiesBusiness can reap numerous benefits from well-planned, correctly-implemented mobileengagement strategies.The strength of ‘in-the-moment’ feedbackOne of the key benefits is the ability to capture customers’ opinions ‘in the moment’, closer tothe point of purchase or experience, with less bias, recall issues or influence from the brand.This leads to more accurate data, more truthful opinions, and more engaged participants.Validation using multimedia evidenceThe benefit of immediacy is strengthened by the opportunities for validation that mobile offers,such as the collection of real-time multimedia data. Capturing photo, video and audio evidenceadds richness to the data collected, and provides ‘proof’ of the experience in question. In manycases, multimedia even provides insight beyond the boundaries of the questions being asked,by virtue of its illustrative nature.Location-based targetingMobile engagement can also deliver evidence in the form of geolocation, which enablesresearchers to determine where respondents are located, or to perform ‘journey mapping’,showing where respondents have been (a less invasive and more useful benefit of geolocation).More importantly, geolocation allows organizations to target respondents with ‘triggers’ or‘reminders, for example to take a short survey when entering a certain area or region. Thisallows organizations to capture feedback quickly and make changes to their offerings to drivesales within much shorter timespans than previously possible.Geolocation also generates many useful applications at the organization level, such ascustomer segmentation based on territory, store location, influence maps, etc.Enticing customers to act nowInteractive tools such as QR codes are another key benefit of mobile engagement, givingindividuals the ability to scan a specific image which translates on a mobile device as data,such as promotional material or a feedback survey. These types of tools make it much easierand much more compelling for brands to entice their customers to share their feedback, forexample at the end of a show or through their television following a program. Making use of ‘idle time’72% of people use smartphones while Contacting people on mobile phonestraveling; 63% in a store while shopping; 47% used to be seen as at best an interruptionin the car; and 64% in a restaurant or coffee or at worst an intrusion into personalshop. time. Now, however, the perception of– Mobile Marketing: Not The Same On mobile engagement has shifted and isTablets As On Smartphones, Elizabeth Shaw, considered a highly efficient and accurateForrester Research, March 28 2012 Express way of collecting feedback. Time-poor respondents can complete surveys during
5‘downtime’, while running errands or waiting for a meeting to start. In fact, communicatingvia mobile allows respondents to engage on their terms, whenever convenient, without forcingthem to choose between spending their time on surveys and going about their day-to-dayactivities. Contrary to being imposing, many users now consider mobile engagement to beliberating.Driving up response ratesBeing able to reach respondents wherever they are is clearly a great advantage fororganizations and research agencies, as it often eliminates the need to consider the time orlocation of interactions. But mobile engagement has also been increasingly linked to higherresponse rates, meaning it is perceived as convenient by participants as well. In addition,mobile surveys tend to reach a wider audience than more traditional methods, such as theyouth market and mobile professionals.The technical benefits of digital dataFrom the organization’s point of view, mobile research can be relatively straightforward toimplement and cost efficient, provided it is carried out by experienced research agencies orusing a proven software solution. The digital nature of the data means it can be quickly andeasily integrated with design software at the start, and analysis software at the end, withoutthe bias of human transcription (as is often the case with telephone or paper interviewing).This is not only useful for mobile respondents, but also for mobile researchers surveying, forexample, customers at the end of a store visit using an iPad.While this is by no means a conclusive list of all the benefits that mobile engagement offers,it demonstrates that organizations can reap significant business advantage by implementingmobile strategies to capture the Voice of the Customer or to understand their marketsegments.Those that don’t take mobile as a feedback channel seriously risk being left behind by notbeing able to adapt their strategies to the needs of their markets, or not understanding theircustomers.Despite the numerous benefits we have just outlined, mobile engagement is not meant toreplace more traditional methodologies. On the contrary: it works best when integrated withother feedback channels, as we will see in the next section.II. Challenges to Integrated Mobile EngagementEarlier, we recognized that there are many challenges to implementing an integrated mobileengagement strategy. Organizations and Market Research agencies already have a number oftechnologies at their disposal to engage with customers and understand their behavior. Paperand telephone interviewing are still very much in use, while email and online surveys havebecome widespread in the last decade. All these methods offer specific benefits, and using theright combination can be very powerful indeed.Adding mobile as another channel for communication can, if done well, magnify the successof existing customer feedback programs, and provide an ideal way to target some harder-to-reach respondents for a holistic view across all segments.
6 To date, however, mobile engagement has ‘The challenge for the market research shown slower growth than industry trends industry is to find ways of harnessing, would suggest. In 2011, revenues among compiling, and interpreting new sources of Market Research agencies from SMS, IVR information – sometimes in combination with and other self-completion methods on traditional techniques, sometimes not.’ mobile devices were only 1% or less.5 – ESOMAR Global Market Research, September 2011 There are many reasons for this. We’ve already seen that, until recently,unsolicited messages were often perceived as an intrusion by mobile users. Another reasonhas been uncertainty around costs. SMS – or text messages – often bear costs not only forthe research entity but sometimes also to the respondent. If the SMS is an invitation to fill ina survey online, the respondent might also incur charges when receiving or responding to asurvey—more so if they’re situated or travelling abroad.These barriers are now largely gone: mobile bodies have introduced a range of best practicesand guidelines for unsolicited communications via mobile, and there is greater clarity oncharges for all types of mobile interaction.More current are the challenges regarding technical implementation, such as theconsiderations of networks, mobile device types, and mobile technologies in use byrespondents. To put this into context, most mobile surveys work best if they embracetouchscreen technology. Survey interfaces therefore need to be optimized to suit.What’s more, surveys need to be designed for the ‘smartphone generation’. Today, nearly 42%of all US mobile subscribers use smartphones, along with 44% of European subscribers. In theUS alone, the number of smartphones in use is predicted to soar past 100 million in 2012. 6There is no doubt, then, that the fast pace of evolution in the mobile market is driving rapidchanges in consumer behavior. Now, it must also demonstrate to organizations that they needto quickly overcome any remaining barriers to mobile engagement. The key to doing so is toaddress some core considerations before embarking on an integrated mobile strategy.III. Key Considerations for Mobile EngagementThere is a wide range of considerations, both strategic and practical, for organizations andresearch agencies wishing to implement mobile engagement for customer experience orMarket Research programs. At the very least, before starting out, businesses should:Take into account customer experience best practices• develop a long-term vision for your customer experience program• ensure your data is representative of your customer base• drive action through insights and close the loop with customers• be conscious of your customers’ time.5 Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey 2011, Tim Macer and Sheila Wilson, meaning ltd, March 20126 2012 Mobile Future in Focus, ComScore, February 2012
7Follow research guidelinesMobile research is subject to the same rules and regulations as other research methods. Thismeans that there should be complete transparency to the respondent about:• identification of the sender• purpose of the message / survey• voluntary nature of participation• guarantee of confidentiality• consideration of local expectations• compensation for costs incurred by the participant• consideration of all legal implications.Reduce churn through clear and engaging surveysFrom the organization’s viewpoint, another challenge lies in survey clarity and relevance forthe respondent. The wide variety of handsets, displays, applications and functionalities hasgenerated a certain level of inconsistency. It is therefore no easy task to produce a survey thatwill display in a similar way on the various devices which your customers are currently using.The evolution of smartphones and tablets has only complicated the matter, whilst offeringgreater choice in survey types and methodologies.What’s more, the instant and constantly-developing nature of mobile means it is not enoughto deliver a survey once, and then use the same layout, look and feel or question types forevery subsequent survey delivered to the same respondent group. Survey applications, inparticular, must be adapted to deliver ongoing relevance and value and to continually engagerespondents. Otherwise, participants will be lost.A few rules will ensure mobile technologies can be optimized fully:• use short surveys (which has become the standard in the industry)• detect participants’ mobile devices in order to use the right display mode• show questions in a manner that’s engaging for the respondent• continually review surveys to ensure they are timely and relevant• deliver surveys that are tailored to different key touchpoints for respondents• work with experienced partners.Build value for participantsBuilding long-term, profitable and useful relationships with your respondents is not just aboutdelivering beautiful, engaging surveys and expecting them to complete them. Incentivizingsurvey completion is one useful additional tool for longer-term interaction. Beyond this,successful mobile engagement programs are those where organizations develop an ongoingdialog with their respondent groups. This could include: updating participants instantly onthe progress and results of the studies they are involved in; providing immediate responseand resolution to customer service issues; or updating customers about new products orpromotions that they can immediately benefit from.Integrate mobile technologies with existing feedback processesThe most successful mobile engagement strategies are those that integrate with existingfeedback channels to deliver a comprehensive view of customers or the market. Organizations
8should work with experienced partners to understand exactly how they can merge and reporton the in-the-moment feedback gathered through mobile channels with historical data andfeedback from other channels to ensure representativeness.For each program, organizations should ask:• What types of audiences is this program aimed at? What are the demographic andgeographic considerations?• Is this a purposefully mobile campaign, or is it better suited to multi-channel delivery withmobile as supporting mode for instant response or additional evidence?• What type of mobile delivery is the program most suited to: SMS, browser, application, or acombination?• Does this program work best if integrated with online or telephone-based feedback, to allowa wider range of respondents to participate?Embrace mobile panelsMobile panels represent a great way of overcoming some of these challenges, providing astructured and permission-based way of recruiting willing and engaged respondents. Thesepanels can be either specialist panels, or part of a multi-channel panel (offering mobile asone of the channels respondents can select). In both cases, they provide some interestingalternatives to e-mail as a way of inviting panelists to surveys, via SMS or push notifications(from an app). The voluntary nature of mobile panels means respondents are generally moreengaged and will therefore tend to fill in more surveys, or even download a research app, whichwill enable them to provide their feedback whilst offline and sync their answers back whenonline. More engaged respondents are also more likely to utilize their mobile phone’s cameraand microphone to collect images, video, sounds, or use QR codes.Accommodate all screens in all environmentsThere are many technicalities that organizations must consider in the implementation ofmobile engagement, and experienced partners are the best reference point here. At a toplevel, it is important that the mobile technologies used are able to cater to all types of network,work even with poor networks, support touchscreens, work with Flash, and render well on alldevices.IV. The Future of Mobile EngagementAlthough still far from being fully optimized, mobile engagement has evolved significantly overthe past five years. It started with basic SMS surveys, sending one question and expectinga straightforward answer consisting of a number or a word—not the most effective methodwhen it comes to engaging with your customers. Gradually, as more and more mobile devicesbecame connected to the Internet (up to 90 percent in the United States), organizations wereable to offer more dynamic surveys, integrating to some extent the capabilities of the alreadymature online questionnaires (although they do need to be adapted to mobile usage – such asbeing shorter and mouse-free).
9The shift in mobile technology from feature phones to smartphones has been a powerfulcatalyst for mobile research to really take off. Ease of use, engaging content and a host ofnew functionalities have empowered organizations to connect with their customers on adifferent level, and it is now these customers who often start the conversation. Furthermore,free and easy access to advanced mobile applications, which can offer a truly engaging andfun experience, are available to the respondent in a growing proportion of mobile devices:smartphones of course, but also tablets like the iPad and Android devices.Over the next five years, organizations and Market Research agencies will be working hardto catch up with the mobile channel, despite its challenges and because of the numerousand specific benefits it offers. Larger companies are showing a slow but significant shift inunderstanding the importance of the mobile channel. In particular, larger Market Researchagencies are more likely to adjust their surveys for use on smartphones—21% compared to10% of smaller companies.7In many ways, the evolution of mobile research follows that of its predecessors, not only inits sophistication, as we have just seen, but also in its integration with the entire researchprocess:- at the design stage: robust software solutions allow for the quick and easy creation of mobilesurveys, adapted for a variety of handsets and devices- at the program management level: mobile surveys can now be integrated within the entireend-to-end process, including other feedback methods- at the analysis stage: data from mobile respondents can easily be exported and aggregatedwith the rest of your research, in order to get a holistic view of your customers’ opinions.Beyond its research and customer experience applications, mobile engagement has quicklyblurred the lines when it comes to mobile marketing, at a faster rate than other channels.This is partly due to the inherent transparency of these lines. Multi-tasking feels very naturalfor cell phone users and if surveys are done in an engaging way, participants are not likelyto be biased by or take offense at marketing messaging. We see examples of QR codes usedin restaurants, with feedback being requested through a free phone app, in exchange forvouchers or movie tickets. It’s all very seamless to the customer and a great way of engagingwith them in the long term.ConclusionIt is clear that there is much to digest with regard to mobile engagement. It is easy anddangerous to be attracted to the feature set that mobile offers without giving properconsideration to the underlying value you are hoping to derive from the channel. This paperonly touches on many of the issues that organizations need to consider, but should serve as aguide to the main areas of thought.Having said that, mobile engagement is not a complicated science. It has clear and simplebenefits, and can be implemented without technical difficulty, particularly when working with aproven partner.7 Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey 2011, Tim Macer and Sheila Wilson, meaning ltd, March 2012
10We are certainly still at the infancy of what can be achieved through mobile engagement. Nolonger just a data collection method, it now represents a revolutionary way of engaging withyour customers, ‘in-the-moment’, on their terms. The challenges that were presented early onin this discipline have all been counteracted with a set of best practices that help organizationsin their efforts to connect with their customers. Although there are a few legal and usabilityissues that are specific to mobile research, these best practices are essentially the same butemphasized compared to other research methods: surveys need to be really short, they need to be integrated within a comprehensive People aren’t always at their computers, but customer program, they need to be fun most of them won’t go anywhere without and engaging for the respondent, and they their mobile phones. As companies compete need to generate actionable insights for to gain deeper, more relevant insights about the organization. customers, they will increasingly invest in the mobile channel for gathering real-time, The diversity of ways to engage with the locationally-aware customer feedback. audience through mobile devices, from – Bruce Temkin, managing partner of SMS through to web-enabled surveys and the Temkin Group and leading customer apps, will no doubt lead to a bright future experience expert for mobile engagement. After all, mobile offers benefits that are unique to its owntechnology and is still one of the only ways to develop a two-way conversation with all yourcustomers.This shift from monolog to dialog is what needs to happen in the entire array of feedbackand research methods. Given the widespread adoption of mobile phones worldwide, it issurprising that a significant number of research agencies and software companies have notyet integrated this data collection feedback as part of their research toolkit. Those who fail todo so in the near future will no doubt be left behind. Those who succeed will be the ones whohave mastered the art of integrating mobile within an end-to-end feedback platform, in orderto achieve a holistic view of their customers and derive robust business actions from theirinsights, no matter how they were collected.