Mobile Web Surveys Pro Con

Mobile web is a survey mode in which respondents engage with a questionnaire online through a mobile phone that has Internet connectivity, like a feature phone or a smartphone. Mobile web surveys can be dispatched to respondents through a few channels, such as email or online advertisements, but the channel that GeoPoll uses most often is SMS.

In this method, an SMS text message containing a web link and an invitation to participate in a survey is sent to potential respondents. Recipients of the invitations that click the web link are then automatically directed to a web page. On this page, users choose whether or not to opt-in for participation in the survey. Those who opt-in to participate are automatically routed through the online questionnaire and self-report answers along the way. When the survey is completed, GeoPoll provides an incentive to the survey respondent, most often in the form of airtime credit.

Like any other research mode, there are benefits and drawbacks to the mobile web mode of research. In this post, we explain the pros and cons of mobile web surveys with regard to how GeoPoll utilizes the mode most often in our projects.

Advantages of the mobile web survey mode


The advantages of mobile web as a survey mode surround capabilities and cost. Advanced question types—such as — can be used in mobile web questionnaires, as well as questions that include photo and video content.

These capabilities are important to consider when running a survey because they allow for more complex data to be collected. Matrix questions, for example, can provide a large amount of data to work with. Gathering the same amount of detailed information through another survey mode, like SMS, would require a large number of questions to be added to a survey—which would negatively impact completion rate and increase the costs of running a survey.

The capability to include photos and videos in a mobile web survey is also highly beneficial because the forms of media provide options for creativity. For example, a short video may be included at the beginning of a survey for respondents to watch; then the questionnaire can ask the respondents questions that are based on the video clip. This sort of survey design is useful for a company wanting to gather feedback on the ease of understanding of a new employee training video or an advertising agency seeking feedback on a television commercial. Beyond these examples, the benefits of the capability to include photos and videos in a mobile web survey are practically endless because they allow for more diverse use of a questionnaire than just text does.

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Beyond these capabilities, mobile web surveys are not limited to character counts per question like SMS surveys. Questionnaire developers are often fans of the mobile web mode of research for this reason. In SMS surveys, each survey question is limited to 160 characters, meaning both a question’s text and answer choices need to be under 160 characters. This limitation of the SMS mode of research can be a challenge, which highlights the utility mobile-web as a survey mode.


Market Research AfricaAnother perk that mobile web provides is lower costs than most other mobile-based research modes. With mobile web surveys, the costs are lower because SMS messages are used only to recruit participation in the survey. Each of the SMS messages used for recruitment of respondents has an associated cost, but once the respondent opts-in to participate in the survey there are no per-question costs. In contrast, each question and response in an SMS survey is an individual SMS message with an associated cost, and modes such as CATI require training live interviewers which can become costly.

Cost is often a factor considered most heavily when a study has a low budget and a goal of reaching a large sample size. In a case like this, mobile web is a good research mode option. However, with the lower cost comes more nuances to consider.

Drawbacks of the mobile web survey mode


Seeing as mobile web surveys take place online, respondents must have Internet connectivity to participate in the study. In certain areas of the world, this would not inhibit most people from participating in a survey; in other parts of the world, it does.

For many people, Internet connectivity is inaccessible due to high costs, lack of infrastructure, or both. This is especially true in the countries that GeoPoll specializes in, like rural and remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa. In most of SSA, only the upper classes are able to afford day-to-day Internet use, which may skew the socio-economic class distribution of respondents toward the more financially affluent end—or lower the rate of participation in the survey.

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When to use mobile web surveys

Some projects have more rigid needs than others for equal distribution of respondents per socio-economic class. Every research study is different. At GeoPoll, we understand that every project is unique and we are committed to using our expertise in mobile-based research to guide our clients through key decisions to produce the most accurate insights possible. For more information on GeoPoll’s research modes, contact us today.