A smartphone is more than a communication device. When you hold a smartphone in your hand, you hold a device that provides 24/7, limitless access to information. Due to this access, more and more consumers are researching, browsing, and purchasing on mobile devices. Why? It’s convenient, fast, and easy, and most importantly, it’s available anytime, anyplace.
Today, many companies are beginning to investigate new ways to engage with customers via their mobile devices — and have customers engage with them, too. This creates a two-way conversation, resulting in a stronger relationship and even richer data and insights. That’s why companies are investing in mobile research to implement new ways to track how their customers convert and what they can do to make that process even easier.
A Changing Landscape
At first, most companies ventured into the mobile realm purely for informational purposes: to allow customers to learn about new products or limited-time offers. Think of this as a one-way street, with all of the data being pushed to the customer via a mobile device.
Now, businesses have learned to focus on a different kind of mobile engagement to understand the shopping process from beginning to end (e.g., the path to purchase).
Think about how your customers shop with a smartphone today. They start by researching new products and checking reviews on social media or on the company’s website/app. This is often followed by a trip to the store to look at a product — all while multitasking on a mobile device.
Tracking What Matters
At its core, research is about gathering and analyzing data. But researching something as difficult as the path to purchase in today’s digital world requires engagement via mobile research. In the past, researchers relied on a customer’s memory or engagement via moderators while in the store or at home. But now, smartphones offer an alternative that not only provides better speed and costs, but also better insights at the point of influence with a company’s product in the store.
Here are a few metrics your researchers can start tracking today:
Time: Tracking the time your customers spend with your product — researching, deciding, or buying — can help you understand their experiences even better.
Engagement: Where does your customer start to interact with your company? Is it on your website or in the brick-and-mortar store? Find out where your customers are engaging, and you’ll find out what influences your customers’ decision to buy.
Experience: Rather than waiting for memories to fade, researchers are asking customers to give them feedback at the moment of influence. Fresh impressions are sharper, and they’ll give you better insights into your customers’ experience and frame of mind.
Outside information: Now, with a mobile phone, you can record which applications are running while your customers shop or which websites they’re browsing. Then, you can understand what’s informing their decisions — and if there are any competing messages standing in the way.
Three Reasons to Innovate Now
Still don’t believe in the power of smartphones? Here are some statistics that might change your mind. These numbers illustrate why investing in mobile research right now is the right move — and what it could mean for your business:
People take their phones everywhere. And I mean everywhere:75 percent of Americans bring their phones to the bathroom with them. So, what does this mean? It shows that the mobile phone isn’t just an accessory anymore. Now, it’s a personal extension of one’s self.
Customers do their research. 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop. And 40 percent of shoppers check out three (or more) channels before making a purchase — often while they’re shopping.
Companies are investing in mobile research right now. Smartphones are here to stay. For example, in 2012, 116 million Americans owned smartphones. And by 2014, mobile will overtake desktop Internet usage. In fact, 78 percent of retailers plan to invest in mobile research this year.
Mobile engagement is essential for any company’s marketing strategy. Why shouldn’t mobile research be essential, too? In the next few years, your customers will depend on their smartphones more and more, and that means they’ll be creating a wealth of statistics, metrics, and trends that could revolutionize the way you do business.
Don’t miss out on the possibilities of mobile. Innovate your research methods today; you’ll create a shopping experience that’s smoother, smarter, and more satisfying for your customers.
Rick West is the CEO ofField Agent, a mobile research company that crowdsources a pool of more than 240,000 agents to perform audits and collect market intelligence. Connect with Rick onTwitter andGoogle+.