At GeoPoll we are continuously developing our suite of flexible research solutions that enable us to interact with respondents on multiple channels, including text messages, voice calls, and web links.
Each mobile research mode comes with its own advantages and shortcomings, and selecting the right one for each project is typically about balancing reach (percentage of the population that can be interviewed), complexity (number of answer options, length of questions, use of images and multimedia), time, and cost.
By providing multiple mobile research modes, GeoPoll ensures we can reach any population, even those that do not have access to the internet or cannot read text messages. SMS, for example, can reach anyone with a mobile phone and is significantly cheaper and faster than Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), but is limited to plain text and 160 characters per question and answer. Our smartphone app, on the other hand, enables complex surveys and the sending and receiving of images, audio clips, videos, and hyperlinks. But limited smartphone penetration and affordability in most emerging markets means this platform is limited to more affluent respondents.
WhatsApp in Africa
The evolution of devices that have some smartphone features, but at a much lower cost, has boosted the adoption of messaging apps across the developing world. In Africa, this usually means WhatsApp.
The explosion of WhatsApp across Africa in the past few years has been spectacular. Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria (in that order) are now the world’s top three WhatsApp countries by penetration, and WhatsApp is the largest messaging platform in almost every country on the continent. Because it is available on basic devices with a low-level data connection, the penetration rates of WhatsApp usually far exceed actual internet access. Due to its wide reach and accessibility, WhatsApp is increasingly being used by organizations such as the World Health Organization as a mechanism for distributing vital information regarding COVID-19.
As a survey platform, in most African countries, WhatsApp has the potential to reach almost as deep into the population as SMS or CATI, and it is because of this that GeoPoll has added Whatsapp surveys to our suite of offerings in our core markets including Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. WhatsApp survey questions can be longer and more complex than SMS, and unlike CATI we can use audio and visual stimuli, meaning we can send picture or video content for respondents to answer questions about, and even get photos and recordings back from respondents. It is fast, cheap, and everyone knows how to use it. User engagement also seems to be strong. A study in Israel found that well over 50% of WhatsApp messages are answered within 1 minute. In our initial pilots, the average response time to each question was 1 minute 22 seconds.
We have been working closely with our clients to explore the use of WhatsApp as a survey mode in more detail, running tests and pilots in our core markets, as well as frontier markets like Iraq. Early data suggests that response and completion rates for Whatsapp surveys (when using GeoPoll’s database) are higher than online surveys and almost as good as SMS, which makes this a valuable middle ground between high reach and high complexity. Respondents in a social development survey, for example, who would usually only participate via SMS or CATI, could be sharing images and videos of their daily lives to accompany and contextualize survey data. A TV ad can be shown to a test audience with only the most basic internet connectivity.
Many mobile networks have special Whatsapp deals and bundles that make it a considerably cheaper platform for respondents to use than a mobile web survey. We’re excited about the possibilities.
Conduct a WhatsApp Survey
Experience the benefits of conducting surveys through the WhatsApp messaging platform with GeoPoll. To learn more about how we can execute your specific project, please contact us.