The Panda Blog

Subscribe via Email

Your name and email are required.

Stories, insights and anecdotes from the frontline of digital market research

Mobile research trends in Africa #3: Respondent engagement

15 June 2015

This is part three in our series on the trends determining the future of mobile market research in Africa over the next 10 years, adapted from our Market Research in the Mobile World presentation in May – you can read part one here, and part two here.

So without further ado…

We believe we’re going to start seeing researchers in Africa up their game when it comes to respondent engagement. Not just because it’s good for respondents, but because the problem of non-response affects all areas of research, making better respondent engagement fundamental to delivering on the promise of digital and mobile research – larger samples, faster.

The problem of non-response

The reality is that interviewers are experiencing higher refusal rates than ever before, and Africa is not immune. Response rates of face-to-face surveys can be as low as around 10% in Africa, while response rates to online panel surveys, are commonly around the 25% to 35% mark.

Mobile surveys are not exempt either, and the way researchers are engaging with respondents is changing.

Engaging with respondents in Africa and other emerging markets

This is what we think is coming:

1. Content

In the US and Europe, it’s often a case of ‘just incentives, all the time’. But in Africa, content by itself can do a lot to engage respondents.

Don’t forget, for many Africans, their mobile phone is their only way to consume digital content, and content has been successful for both us and others as a means of driving engagement with feature phone-based respondents.

mobile content

But that’s changing. With smartphones and the apps that follow, the competition for attention is getting tougher every day. And when you’re trying to grow a respondent base on a smartphone platform, you’re also competing with TV and the internet – and that’s a big ask.

Some African researchers who manage their own respondent bases are now experimenting with publishing their own content as well. Right now, we ourselves are busy answering the question of whether gamified surveys can compete with everything else out there for users.

It’s important to remember, though, that incentives are still king. Content is there to complement incentives, but in Africa, it’s also a great way to engage new respondents, build a community, and keep people coming back.

2. Partnerships

Another way to engage respondents is through strategic partnerships. Pondering Panda’s own recent partnership with WeChat, for example.

pp and wechat

WeChat is basically the Chinese equivalent of WhatsApp, but whereas WhatsApp has remained ‘pure’, which is to say, pure chat and nothing else, WeChat is gearing itself towards emerging markets by integrating content, and more recently services, within the WeChat app itself. And it’s seeing some pretty amazing growth in Africa at the moment.

Social messaging apps are spreading like wildfire in Africa, and thanks to their huge user bases, they’re a fantastic place to recruit respondents and drive them to your survey.

The key here is that most social messaging apps have a way of internally sending messages to their users, allowing researchers to effectively advertise and promote their surveys – and associated incentives, of course.

This has the potential to draw thousands of willing respondents whose only barrier to answering the the survey previously had been not knowing about it.

3. Better survey design

We know this string has been plucked at relentlessly already, but we’re going to do it again. How we conceive of surveys on mobile devices has not yet entered the consciousness of many traditional research companies, so here’s another dulcet note.

The fact is, we need more engaging survey design – both to encourage respondents to become repeat respondents, and to limit the number who drop-off during a survey.

The types we’re predicting we’ll see more of include:

New types of gamified (and just plain better) survey design
First and foremost removing the barriers to entry of length and complexity, and then going on to experiment with language, multi-media components, and all the fun new things we’re learned from behavioural economics.

More Interactive surveys
When we say ‘interactive’ here, we don’t just mean with their device, we mean with the world at large. For example, where respondents are asked to engage with the the world at physical locations, and perform more complex tasks. Mystery shopping is a good example of this.

The growth of micro-jobbing
This is something that we’re already familiar with most famously through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. In Africa we’re seeing a number of new micro-jobbing startups springing up to offer people who are often time-rich but cash-poor to complete simple tasks – for example, at a local restaurant, supermarket or fashion retailer.

These kinds of innovations have the potential to expand the world of research. Through mobile, what was once just picking an option on a questionnaire has become so much more.

The competition for attention is going to be a tough one, but in Africa we definitely think we’re up for the challenge.

Got any questions? Get in touch or post them in the comments below.

>> Go to trend #1: Device agnostic research
>> Go to trend #2: Collaboration and partnership