What proportion of online surveys are conducted on a smartphone?

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What proportion of online surveys are conducted on a smartphone?

The ability to conduct an online survey via smartphone is a significant convenience for survey takers. Respondents are already accessing and interacting with emails directly on their smartphones in many ways – downloading and reading attached files, watching videos, clicking links, and reading and replying to messages.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a respondent would expect survey invitations to work the same way. Unfortunately, some online surveys are not optimized correctly for the mobile world, thus leading to a frustrating user experience.

 

What are the challenges with surveys conducted via smartphones?

The challenge with mobile survey taking lies in the actual devices themselves:

  • The screens are smaller which can make scrolling cumbersome or difficult
  • The small screen size of devices can also lead to readability issues that involve users needing to pinch the screen to enlarge or be able to view things completely
  • The wide variety of phones and operating systems available (Android, iOS) means respondents are using different phone browsers
  • Network speed issues or weak cellular signals may cause the survey to time-out or respond slower than respondents expect
  • In the mobile world, users may be distracted either by their immediate surroundings or by notifications that pop-up on their phones (e.g. texts, phone calls, alerts)

Unfortunately, all these issues may cause a respondent to abandon your survey at some point, rather than completing it.

Mobile surveys

While network speed and environmental distractions are not things survey software companies can easily address, the good news is that some online survey software has been designed to accommodate mobile devices, taking the survey from a desktop experience to a mobile one rather seamlessly. These accommodations automatically fix things like screen size, enabling a more user-friendly experience. However, not every research provider owns or leases this type of software.

In addition, certain features within a survey still may not function on mobile devices even though the survey itself is mobile-friendly. This has to do with features that work on desktops PC’s but not on mobile screens, such as the ability to hover which was designed for users interacting with a mouse.

 

The percentage of respondents replying to online surveys via their phones varies by audience:

Research has been conducted into the frequency of responses to online survey invitations via smartphone, and the average seems to hover around 30% (Souce: Toluna), with some estimates going as high as 40% (Source: Clear Seas).

But did you ever think that the range of respondents responding to your study via their mobile phone may fluctuate as low as 3% or as high as 57%? When B2B International reviewed data from online surveys in 2019, our average matched other research firms averaging approximately between 30-35%. However, we also had some very strong outliers in either direction.

When thinking about your project, consider the following factors and how they may influence the percentage of respondents replying via their mobile phone.

  • Are you targeting consumers or B2B professionals?
  • If B2B professionals, are you surveying those in senior or junior roles; are you looking at professional industries / those who have a desk job, or those who might be in construction or working on a shop floor?
  • What country of origin is being surveyed?
  • Is the sample coming from a panel, a customer contact list, or both? (In the US, we found higher averages of respondents utilizing mobile phones to take surveys coming from panels versus customer lists.)
  • Is the target audience younger or older?
  • What type of phone and data plan (e.g. contract or pay-as-you-go prepaid plan) is the target demographic likely to own?
 

Ways to ensure a pleasant user experience for mobile respondents:

As a reminder, below are some best practices to keep your smartphone respondents engaged and encourage their participation.

  • Keep your survey length to industry accepted standards – typically 15 minutes or less;
  • Partner with a research agency that utilizes survey software that can accommodate smartphones (like B2B International);
  • Make sure your survey is tested on a mobile device to ensure functionality and readability;
  • If certain features of the survey can only function on a desktop device, be sure to let respondents know in the survey invitation, so they can ensure they are sitting at a desktop when they click the link to participate.

Mobile survey