1 Key Considerations for Implementing a Mobile Engagement Strategy W h i t e P a p e r Embrace mobile technologies to engage your customers
2 2 Introduction The rate of adoption of mobile phones and mobile devices in the last ten years represents one of the greatest innovations in technology, in terms of global expansion and speed. More important than the technological change, though, is the change in behavior and expectations that mobile has driven among consumers and businesses users alike. The immediate and agile nature of mobile communication, and the ability to keep interactions brief but effective, means people can achieve more in less time. What s more, they can do this whenever and wherever convenient unrestricted by the traditional constraints of working hours, 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 in traditionally hard-to-reach groups such as the youth market. This growth trend shows no sign of slowing down. Mobile subscribers grew by approximately 1.5 billion globally in 2011 to more than 5.9 billion, which represents around 87% of the world s population. It is predicted that in 2012 this number will exceed 7 billion. 1 This sea-change in technology and behavior is having a major impact upon the way organizations conduct their business, particularly in terms of how they communicate with their customers, employees and other stakeholders. So, what does this mean for organizations and departments who conduct Voice of the Customer programs, Market Research studies, and other feedback campaigns? Well, in simple terms, it means that if they haven t already done so, they need to quickly implement ways to serve their customers and audiences on the go, or risk losing them to a competitor who has wholeheartedly embraced the mobile channel. This paper looks at some of the key considerations for organizations seeking to understand the impact of the mobile channel on their business, and wishing to implement mobile engagement strategies. It also summarizes how mobile engagement can help them move from monolog to dialog with their customers, respondents or key audiences, and as a result build more profitable, long-term relationships. The Impact of Mobile on Customer Experience and Research The trend in soaring mobile adoption rates is being seen globally and is continuing to gather pace. Analysts estimate that mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines by more than 5 times, (and more so in developing nations), while mobile broadband subscriptions are double those of fixed broadband subscriptions. It is no surprise then, that most experts believe mobile internet usage will surpass desktop internet usage by 2014 or Many regions now show a penetration rate of more than 100 percent, meaning individuals often use more than one mobile phone (e.g. personal and professional). 1 International Telecommunications Union, November 2011, via mobithinking.com 2 International Telecommunications Union, November 2011, via mobithinking.com
3 3 Even emerging regions show remarkable coverage, such as Africa with 52 percent of the population. The growth of the tablet market, including the ipad and the plethora of Android tablets, also comes to inflate these figures. In the shift to supplant landline telecoms, mobile has simultaneously caused a profound cultural change in customer behavior and attitudes. The mobile-enabled population of today expects any interaction on their mobile device to be timely and relevant. For providers of goods and 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 communication must 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 to connect anytime, anywhere, and therefore empowers them to be in charge. Many brands have already caught up with this potential market, enabling their customers to interact and buy from them via mobile devices. But it doesn t stop at m-commerce. According to a study conducted by marketing agency Knotice, over 27% of s are now opened on mobile phones or tablets. 3 The next and more significant step for organizations is therefore to tap into mobile engagement as a means of getting the attention of their customers and to measure and improve the customer experience for long-term profit and business growth. Why, then, haven t more businesses and research agencies already put in place mobile engagement 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 for smartphones, and 30% have no policy for smartphones at all. 4 The truth is, for most customer insight specialists and Market Researchers, implementing mobile engagement is a complex challenge. It is not simply a question of adding mobile as a new and separate communications channel. There are many considerations, both strategic and functional, 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 the 3 Econsultancy.com blog, Graham Charlton, April Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey 2011, Tim Macer and Sheila Wilson, meaning ltd, March 2012
4 4 challenges 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 Opportunities Business can reap numerous benefits from well-planned, correctly-implemented mobile engagement strategies. The strength of in-the-moment feedback One of the key benefits is the ability to capture customers opinions in the moment, closer to the 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 evidence The 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 evidence adds richness to the data collected, and provides proof of the experience in question. In many cases, multimedia even provides insight beyond the boundaries of the questions being asked, by virtue of its illustrative nature. Location-based targeting Mobile engagement can also deliver evidence in the form of geolocation, which enables researchers 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. This allows organizations to capture feedback quickly and make changes to their offerings to drive sales within much shorter timespans than previously possible. Geolocation also generates many useful applications at the organization level, such as customer segmentation based on territory, store location, influence maps, etc. Enticing customers to act now Interactive tools such as QR codes are another key benefit of mobile engagement, giving individuals 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 easier and much more compelling for brands to entice their customers to share their feedback, for example at the end of a show or through their television following a program. 72% of people use smartphones while traveling; 63% in a store while shopping; 47% in the car; and 64% in a restaurant or coffee shop. Mobile Marketing: Not The Same On Tablets As On Smartphones, Elizabeth Shaw, Forrester Research, March Express Making use of idle time Contacting people on mobile phones used to be seen as at best an interruption or at worst an intrusion into personal time. Now, however, the perception of mobile engagement has shifted and is considered a highly efficient and accurate way of collecting feedback. Time-poor respondents can complete surveys during
5 5 downtime, while running errands or waiting for a meeting to start. In fact, communicating via mobile allows respondents to engage on their terms, whenever convenient, without forcing them to choose between spending their time on surveys and going about their day-to-day activities. Contrary to being imposing, many users now consider mobile engagement to be liberating. Driving up response rates Being able to reach respondents wherever they are is clearly a great advantage for organizations and research agencies, as it often eliminates the need to consider the time or location of interactions. But mobile engagement has also been increasingly linked to higher response 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 the youth market and mobile professionals. The technical benefits of digital data From the organization s point of view, mobile research can be relatively straightforward to implement and cost efficient, provided it is carried out by experienced research agencies or using a proven software solution. The digital nature of the data means it can be quickly and easily integrated with design software at the start, and analysis software at the end, without the 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, for example, 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 implementing mobile strategies to capture the Voice of the Customer or to understand their market segments. Those that don t take mobile as a feedback channel seriously risk being left behind by not being able to adapt their strategies to the needs of their markets, or not understanding their customers. Despite the numerous benefits we have just outlined, mobile engagement is not meant to replace more traditional methodologies. On the contrary: it works best when integrated with other feedback channels, as we will see in the next section. II. Challenges to Integrated Mobile Engagement Earlier, we recognized that there are many challenges to implementing an integrated mobile engagement strategy. Organizations and Market Research agencies already have a number of technologies at their disposal to engage with customers and understand their behavior. Paper and telephone interviewing are still very much in use, while and online surveys have become widespread in the last decade. All these methods offer specific benefits, and using the right combination can be very powerful indeed. Adding mobile as another channel for communication can, if done well, magnify the success of existing customer feedback programs, and provide an ideal way to target some harder-toreach respondents for a holistic view across all segments.
6 6 The challenge for the market research industry is to find ways of harnessing, compiling, and interpreting new sources of information sometimes in combination with To date, however, mobile engagement has shown slower growth than industry trends would suggest. In 2011, revenues among Market Research agencies from SMS, IVR and other self-completion methods on mobile devices were only 1% or less. 5 traditional techniques, sometimes not. 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 reason has been uncertainty around costs. SMS or text messages often bear costs not only for the research entity but sometimes also to the respondent. If the SMS is an invitation to fill in a survey online, the respondent might also incur charges when receiving or responding to a survey more so if they re situated or travelling abroad. These barriers are now largely gone: mobile bodies have introduced a range of best practices and guidelines for unsolicited communications via mobile, and there is greater clarity on charges for all types of mobile interaction. More current are the challenges regarding technical implementation, such as the considerations of networks, mobile device types, and mobile technologies in use by respondents. To put this into context, most mobile surveys work best if they embrace touchscreen 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 the US alone, the number of smartphones in use is predicted to soar past 100 million in There is no doubt, then, that the fast pace of evolution in the mobile market is driving rapid changes in consumer behavior. Now, it must also demonstrate to organizations that they need to quickly overcome any remaining barriers to mobile engagement. The key to doing so is to address some core considerations before embarking on an integrated mobile strategy. III. Key Considerations for Mobile Engagement There is a wide range of considerations, both strategic and practical, for organizations and research agencies wishing to implement mobile engagement for customer experience or Market 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 Mobile Future in Focus, ComScore, February 2012
7 7 Follow research guidelines Mobile research is subject to the same rules and regulations as other research methods. This means 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 surveys From the organization s viewpoint, another challenge lies in survey clarity and relevance for the respondent. The wide variety of handsets, displays, applications and functionalities has generated a certain level of inconsistency. It is therefore no easy task to produce a survey that will 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 offering greater choice in survey types and methodologies. What s more, the instant and constantly-developing nature of mobile means it is not enough to deliver a survey once, and then use the same layout, look and feel or question types for every subsequent survey delivered to the same respondent group. Survey applications, in particular, must be adapted to deliver ongoing relevance and value and to continually engage respondents. 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 participants Building long-term, profitable and useful relationships with your respondents is not just about delivering beautiful, engaging surveys and expecting them to complete them. Incentivizing survey completion is one useful additional tool for longer-term interaction. Beyond this, successful mobile engagement programs are those where organizations develop an ongoing dialog with their respondent groups. This could include: updating participants instantly on the progress and results of the studies they are involved in; providing immediate response and resolution to customer service issues; or updating customers about new products or promotions that they can immediately benefit from. Integrate mobile technologies with existing feedback processes The most successful mobile engagement strategies are those that integrate with existing feedback channels to deliver a comprehensive view of customers or the market. Organizations
8 8 should work with experienced partners to understand exactly how they can merge and report on the in-the-moment feedback gathered through mobile channels with historical data and feedback 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 and geographic considerations? Is this a purposefully mobile campaign, or is it better suited to multi-channel delivery with mobile as supporting mode for instant response or additional evidence? What type of mobile delivery is the program most suited to: SMS, browser, application, or a combination? Does this program work best if integrated with online or telephone-based feedback, to allow a wider range of respondents to participate? Embrace mobile panels Mobile panels represent a great way of overcoming some of these challenges, providing a structured and permission-based way of recruiting willing and engaged respondents. These panels can be either specialist panels, or part of a multi-channel panel (offering mobile as one of the channels respondents can select). In both cases, they provide some interesting alternatives to 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 more engaged and will therefore tend to fill in more surveys, or even download a research app, which will enable them to provide their feedback whilst offline and sync their answers back when online. More engaged respondents are also more likely to utilize their mobile phone s camera and microphone to collect images, video, sounds, or use QR codes. Accommodate all screens in all environments There are many technicalities that organizations must consider in the implementation of mobile engagement, and experienced partners are the best reference point here. At a top level, 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 all devices. IV. The Future of Mobile Engagement Although still far from being fully optimized, mobile engagement has evolved significantly over the past five years. It started with basic SMS surveys, sending one question and expecting a straightforward answer consisting of a number or a word not the most effective method when it comes to engaging with your customers. Gradually, as more and more mobile devices became connected to the Internet (up to 90 percent in the United States), organizations were able to offer more dynamic surveys, integrating to some extent the capabilities of the already mature online questionnaires (although they do need to be adapted to mobile usage such as being shorter and mouse-free).
9 9 The shift in mobile technology from feature phones to smartphones has been a powerful catalyst for mobile research to really take off. Ease of use, engaging content and a host of new functionalities have empowered organizations to connect with their customers on a different 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 and fun 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 hard to catch up with the mobile channel, despite its challenges and because of the numerous and specific benefits it offers. Larger companies are showing a slow but significant shift in understanding the importance of the mobile channel. In particular, larger Market Research agencies are more likely to adjust their surveys for use on smartphones 21% compared to 10% of smaller companies. 7 In many ways, the evolution of mobile research follows that of its predecessors, not only in its sophistication, as we have just seen, but also in its integration with the entire research process: - at the design stage: robust software solutions allow for the quick and easy creation of mobile surveys, adapted for a variety of handsets and devices - at the program management level: mobile surveys can now be integrated within the entire end-to-end process, including other feedback methods - at the analysis stage: data from mobile respondents can easily be exported and aggregated with 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 quickly blurred 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 natural for cell phone users and if surveys are done in an engaging way, participants are not likely to be biased by or take offense at marketing messaging. We see examples of QR codes used in restaurants, with feedback being requested through a free phone app, in exchange for vouchers or movie tickets. It s all very seamless to the customer and a great way of engaging with them in the long term. Conclusion It is clear that there is much to digest with regard to mobile engagement. It is easy and dangerous to be attracted to the feature set that mobile offers without giving proper consideration to the underlying value you are hoping to derive from the channel. This paper only touches on many of the issues that organizations need to consider, but should serve as a guide to the main areas of thought. Having said that, mobile engagement is not a complicated science. It has clear and simple benefits, and can be implemented without technical difficulty, particularly when working with a proven partner. 7 Confirmit Annual Market Research Software Survey 2011, Tim Macer and Sheila Wilson, meaning ltd, March 2012
10 10 We are certainly still at the infancy of what can be achieved through mobile engagement. No longer just a data collection method, it now represents a revolutionary way of engaging with your customers, in-the-moment, on their terms. The challenges that were presented early on in this discipline have all been counteracted with a set of best practices that help organizations in their efforts to connect with their customers. Although there are a few legal and usability issues that are specific to mobile research, these best practices are essentially the same but emphasized 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 own technology and is still one of the only ways to develop a two-way conversation with all your customers. This shift from monolog to dialog is what needs to happen in the entire array of feedback and research methods. Given the widespread adoption of mobile phones worldwide, it is surprising that a significant number of research agencies and software companies have not yet integrated this data collection feedback as part of their research toolkit. Those who fail to do so in the near future will no doubt be left behind. Those who succeed will be the ones who have mastered the art of integrating mobile within an end-to-end feedback platform, in order to achieve a holistic view of their customers and derive robust business actions from their insights, no matter how they were collected.
11 About Confirmit Confirmit is the world s leading SaaS vendor for multi-channel Voice of the Customer, Employee Feedback, and Market Research applications. The company has offices in Oslo (headquarters), Cologne, Guildford, London, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Yaroslavl. Confirmit s software is also distributed through partner resellers in Barcelona, Kuwait City, Madrid, Milan, Pattaya, Sydney, and Tokyo. Confirmit targets Global 5000 companies and Market Research agencies worldwide with a wide range of software products for feedback / data collection, panel management, data processing, analysis, and reporting. Customers include A&N Media, British Airways, Dow Chemical, Farmers Insurance, GlaxoSmithKline, Halifax Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Ipsos, Nielsen, The NPD Group, and Symantec. v Visit for more information. New York San Francisco London +44 (0) Guildford +44 (0) Oslo Moscow Yaroslavl Cologne Vancouver e w www confirmit.com Copyright Confirmit. All rights reserved.