GeoPoll FAQs

Are GeoPoll mobile samples random?

Yes, to ensure that every mobile phone respondent has an equal chance to complete a survey, GeoPoll samples in one of three ways.  Either GeoPoll has an existing relationship with the mobile network operator allowing GeoPoll to send surveys to random respondents, or GeoPoll recruits respondents online or face-to-face, or GeoPoll generates its own random digits for dialing (RDD).  Either way, GeoPoll ensures that its panels are built on random sampling of all possible mobile subscribers.

How does GeoPoll recruit respondents?

GeoPoll incrementally invites all mobile phone numbers in a country to complete the GeoPoll registration survey and be eligible for future surveys.  GeoPoll then builds an active panel consisting of respondents who have taken a GeoPoll survey in the past and who GeoPoll is able to target by demographics including age, gender, and location. This panel is recruited from GeoPoll’s full database, which is built through multiple methods including partnerships with Mobile Network Operators, random digit dialing, and both online and face-to-face recruitment.

We pride ourselves on having an actively managed market research panel that does not engage in any direct marketing activities with our panel members.

Is GeoPoll’s panel nationally representative?

Access to mobile phones is becoming more widespread across all parts of the globe, but GeoPoll recognizes that the mobile population does not always perfectly match the national population. To account for this, GeoPoll compares the demographic distribution of mobile survey respondents to the most recent census population estimates by age, gender, and the first administrative political geographic boundaries in order to ensure that the surveys are as representative as possible of sampled populations.

GeoPoll in-house staff can offer guidance on choosing survey modes, designing questionnaires, and sampling approaches that will best survey the target demographic groups of interest. In addition, GeoPoll regularly recruits respondents to widen our demographic reach and can support face-to-face interviews to reach non-mobile populations. For specific sample questions, please contact us.

Can GeoPoll utilize client-provided sample instead of the GeoPoll panel?

Yes, GeoPoll can use client-provided sample instead of or in addition to the GeoPoll panel. Client provided mobile phone numbers work well when the recipients on the other end are expecting to receive and participate in the studies.  When surveys are sent to “cold” numbers who are not provided advance notice by the partner organization, response rates are much lower than those seen with the GeoPoll panel so clients should be prepared to provide large sample files.

What incentives does GeoPoll provide for survey participation?

GeoPoll provides small incentives for survey completion (usually under $1.00 USD) deposited by airtime credit or mobile money.

Does GeoPoll conduct research with children under 15?

In line with market research best practices GeoPoll does not conduct surveys with those under the age of 15 unless mobile numbers provided also confirm consent from a parent or guardian.

What steps does GeoPoll take to ensure data protection and security?

GeoPoll takes data security extremely seriously, and takes several steps to ensure data is protected including utilizing encrypted, high-availability servers stored within a secure datacenter, and implementing strict access control for all employees and contractors. Employees undergo background checks prior to employment, and all systems and services undergo penetration tests on a quarterly basis.

How does GeoPoll protect respondents’ personal identifying information?

GeoPoll respondents are assigned a unique identifying number within the GeoPoll system, and GeoPoll never shares the mobile phone numbers or any other personal identifying information with clients.

What is the opt-in process for the GeoPoll panel and specific surveys?

In order to become part of the GeoPoll Panel, respondents are randomly sampled to receive an opt-in message and complete a demographic profiling registration survey. During the opt-in process, the respondent is provided information about GeoPoll’s intent to survey them anonymously and confidentially and asks them to consent to participate.  This process is robust, compliant with IRB human subject research standards, and further customizable based on client wishes.

Once the initial opt-in is complete, respondents are eligible for GeoPoll surveys based on the answers they provided to the demographic questions. When selected in the sample for a specific project, the respondents opt-in to that specific study.  Respondents can opt-out from any study as well as blacklist themselves from any future study at any time.

How does GeoPoll verify respondents’ demographic information?

GeoPoll regularly and repeatedly returns to respondents to check that their answers to essential demographic questions remain consistent as well as other checks on respondent consistency.

In addition to the SMS channel which is widely available across all phones in all markets, it is also possible to reach respondents through voice calls, either automated (interactive voice response) or through a computer assisted telephone interview with an enumerator.  GeoPoll employs both techniques to conduct follow-up verification surveys as well as conduct cognitive interviews to ensure respondents understood the question and the survey the same way as researchers.

In addition to SMS and voice, GeoPoll mobile web and mobile application-based surveys also allow for location validation and triangulation through GPS allowing GeoPoll staff to verify the respondent location and compare to self-reported location.

Can we draw a valid random sample from just one mobile network operator?

GeoPoll aims to connect to every mobile network operator in each of our countries but sometimes only has access to the top one or two operators. Fortunate, this does not introduce a meaningful bias. Through randomized field experiments, GeoPoll has determined that the characteristics of survey respondents are similar across networks.  In other words, in a country like South Africa, the demographic distribution (slightly younger, slightly more male, slightly more urban) is similar across all the mobile networks so we can draw samples from just one operator with equal confidence. Knowing this, we can also draw stratified samples to achieve the desired demographic profile.

What sort of response rates do you normally see for mobile surveys?

GeoPoll has run extensive A/B experimentation to optimize the survey response rate across all demographics and countries. As seen in the US for mobile surveys, the response rates for new respondents can be often around 10% or less.  However, for GeoPoll panelists who have completed at least one survey with GeoPoll before, the response rates can be as high at 80%, for example with a daily panel.

The response rates will vary by survey mode, by country, and by project so this can be discussed further with your GeoPoll project team since they are fully responsible for ensuring the highest possible completion rate.  Finally, additional research by Lau et. al. 2018 indicate that higher or lower response rates do not necessarily dictate a more ‘valid’ survey when looking at mobile surveys in emerging markets. 

How does GeoPoll assure quality at all stages of the survey process?

GeoPoll’s research and operations teams take multiple steps to ensure the highest quality data. These include working on questionnaire design with clients to ensure questions are optimized for the selected mode, testing surveys with local partners, conducting full pilots.

In addition, the GeoPoll system provides automatic verification of unmatched responses (those not within the expected response range), and upon survey completion the GeoPoll team reviews data, checking for unusual survey response patterns, drop-offs on specific questions or potential skews in the data. GeoPoll diligently monitors and regularly reviews its standardized data processing procedures, both automatic and human, to ensure that data is clean and high-quality.


What survey modes does GeoPoll use and what is the difference between each?

GeoPoll’s research and operations teams take multiple steps to ensure the highest quality data. These include working on questionnaire design with clients to ensure questions are optimized for the selected mode, testing surveys with local partners, conducting full pilots.

GeoPoll works across multiple modes–including SMS, live calling, in-person, and internet-based surveys–and our research experts will work with you to determine the most appropriate mode to contact your target population. SMS, Mobile Web, and Mobile Application surveys are the fastest and most cost-effective modes.

Short Message Service (SMS, or text message):  SMS surveys are sent to respondents one question at a time, and all respondents are required to opt-in after receiving the first message. SMS does not require respondents to have internet connectivity or airtime credit, and the survey invitation is received even if phone is turned off or out of service range when sent. Respondents can also answer the questions at their own leisure and GeoPoll can send a customized number of reminders which are critical for maintaining high response rates.

Mobile Web: Mobile Web surveys require that respondents have internet-capable phones with an active WiFi or data connection. Respondents are sent an initial SMS message with a link to a survey, which drives respondents to their web browser to complete the survey. Supports GPS location, video/picture questions, and matrix/ table/ grid format questions.

Mobile Application: Mobile app surveys require a smartphone, although the mobile application does allow for offline use. Respondents who download the GeoPoll mobile application are sent notifications to take part in surveys through GeoPoll’s own mobile app. App includes, with respondent consent, additional capabilities such as GPS location, picture taking and passive data collection

Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI, or live calling): CATI surveys are administered through GeoPoll-trained call center interviewers based in the respective local market. GeoPoll’s mobile application for CATI interviewers facilitates interviewer flow and data collection on any smartphone or tablet.

Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI): GeoPoll’s CAPI enumerator app facilitates face-to-face data collection in the field, removing the need for paper questionnaires and manual data collation.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Pre-recorded voice surveys are initiated via phone call with respondents who key in answers on their dialpad. IVR is useful for reaching illiterate populations through voice calls without training call center interviewers. This mode requires translated records to be done in advance, which GeoPoll can assist with.


What does “multi-modal” mean?

GeoPoll seamlessly offers all survey modes meaning a project can engage multiple modes to reduce costs, increase speed, and improve the representation of the groups trying to be reached.  So for example, a project could start as an SMS survey to reach 60% of the total respondents and then follow-up with live calls to finalize the remainder and the data would be seamlessly collected in the same place and reported in the same way with the same quality controls.


Do respondents have to pay airtime credit to take surveys? What if they have a zero balance?

In countries where GeoPoll is integrated with Mobile Network Operators (the majority of countries we work in), SMS surveys are sent via a zero-rated shortcode, which means they are free for the respondent to receive and respond to, and can be answered even if the respondent has no airtime. Mobile Web and Mobile Application surveys may require the use of respondent airtime for data, but GeoPoll aims to account for this with the incentives offered for these surveys.


Can GeoPoll support advanced question routing and skip patterns?

Yes, across all modes the GeoPoll platform has developed the capabilities to run nearly every kind of question that a common self-administered paper or online survey can run, including logic, routing, looping, and filtering. Earlier answers can also be ‘evoked’, or brought back into the text of a later question.


Are all GeoPoll surveys taken on a mobile phone?

The majority of GeoPoll surveys are taken via a respondent-owned mobile phone. Exceptions include Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI), which is administered in-person via an enumerator who records answers on the enumerators mobile phone or tablet.


I don’t know much about designing a questionnaire, can GeoPoll help?

Yes! GeoPoll has an entire support division to assist in the design, review, and scripting of mobile surveys.  We would be more than happy to help, especially when it comes to trimming down character length to under 160 characters for an SMS survey, for example.  Conversely, if you are fully confident in your own questionnaire, also great! We are more than happy to share the template with you, or even give you direct access to script your own questions at your convenience and pace.


I don’t know if my project is even feasible, can GeoPoll help?

Yes! GeoPoll has an entire support division to assist in reviewing the feasibility of a project. Our feasibility team reviews the project requirements and compares them to our history of performance and can even run no-cost tests to confirm a project is feasible, saving you time and money to know if your survey project can go forward.


How long does data delivery take?

GeoPoll prides itself in our speed of data collection and delivery, however exact timelines vary based on mode, respondent targeting, the format of data delivery, and the speed with which the questionnaire is reviewed and approved by the client. In most countries, SMS, mobile web, and mobile application survey results can be delivered within 3 days following survey fielding.


In what formats does GeoPoll deliver data?

GeoPoll can deliver data via multiple formats, including raw data, SPSS, Excel with Pivot tables, full written reports, presentations, infographics, or interactive online dashboards. GeoPoll also has APIs which can be used to ingest data directly.  In short, GeoPoll can customize the data or reporting format to meet any specification needed by clients.  Data can be provided as often as needed, including direct real-time access. We liaise with clients on best delivery of data which includes advanced analysis on request.


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