Location, Location, Location

Location, Location, Location teaser

Date published 18 Dec 2015

Location, Location, Location

How Geo-Triggered Mobile Surveys Bring You Closer To The Moment Of Truth

Have you thought about how much time you spend on your mobile phone? Because, according to the App ‘Moment’ (which tracks phone usage), I spend about one and half hours a day on my phone and pick it up over 60 times a day. At first, this freaked me out a little! Especially, considering the app was only tracking the usage of ONE of my phones (my work phone). But, it turns out I’m not the only one…we’re all becoming increasingly attached to our phones.

  • Most Australians (79%) reach for their phones within 15 minutes of waking up (Source: TIME Magazine Techland (Worldwide Study) 2012);
  • And, the vast majority of Australians (84%) claim they could NOT go a single day without their mobile phone (Source: TIME Magazine Techland (Worldwide Study) 2012);

This also got me thinking about how well my phone knows me and my surroundings. I wake up with notifications about my commute to work based on real-time traffic information, I get personalised suggestions for caf├ęs in my area, sports scores based on my favourite teams, and travel advice when I arrive in new cities. And my phone knows all of this is based on passive behaviour and specifically information about my LOCATION.

So, we have this device that people can’t live without, is always with us, knows our location and is able to serve up relevant content based on our surroundings.

As marketers, we’re onto this and can cite great examples of brands leveraging the power of mobile and location to connect with their audiences. Here are some examples from Australia and abroad:

  • Westfield & CommBank Offers App: delivering relevant offers based on location and shopping behaviour within Westfield malls
  • Booodl: an app that enables users to curate a shopping list and receive notifications when a product on that list is nearby
  • Starbucks and Match: Starbucks partnering with dating app Match on Valentine’s Day to deliver special offers to couples based on their location
  • Subway: trialling a new system for delivering discounts and notifications to mobile phones based on the proximity to their stores

The power of mobile and location also has the potential to improve the way we conduct market research and ultimately deliver better insights about customers. However, the market research industry has been slower to adopt. Mobile surveys are gradually becoming more common, but we’re yet to truly harness the power of passive and location data.

There are three broad areas where we can apply mobile and location for better insights:

  • Passive Foot Traffic: utilise the passive location data that is collected on mobile devices to identify patterns in how people move. Applications: use this to optimise store locations, or plan outdoor advertising.
  • Known Location Surveys: utilise location history to send more targeted surveys (e.g. send surveys to people that went to Bunnings on the weekend). Applications: use this to monitor customer experience, purchase triggers and barriers, and shopper insights.
  • Intercept Surveys ‘in the moment’: target surveys based on location to get insights about an experience in real-time. Applications: use this for customer experience, journey mapping, shopper insights, on-location testing.

In June 2015, Metrix Consulting decided to road test the idea of using mobile and location to conduct “Intercept Surveys in the Moment”. Metrix partnered with Toluna to setup a Research on Research Pilot Study to highlight the advantages of location triggered mobile surveys, and to identify potential barriers to applying this methodology. The rest of this piece will focus on this pilot study – what we did, the key benefits and key barriers.

The Pilot Study

We recruited people from Toluna’s panel in Melbourne and Perth, who were customers of either Subway or Woolworths. The participants were asked to download the Toluna mobile app which was pre-loaded with the co-ordinates of all Subway and Woolworths locations in both cities. During the course of the study participants were ‘pinged’ with surveys whenever they entered the vicinity of a Subway or Woolworths location and asked to complete a short survey including video and picture uploads. Participants were also asked to do a daily snacking diary that was ‘tagged’ with the location of each snack.

Key Benefits

Without going into too much detail, we identified three key benefits to using Location Triggered Mobile Surveys:

  • Closer to the Moment: participants were able to recall their experiences in vivid detail without having to rely on memory recall. The approach was able to capture more authentic moments that other methodologies might have missed. For example, the majority of visits to the Subway stores were spontaneous, something that can’t be replicated using accompanied shops.
  • Rich Data Capture: the video and photo responses went into a lot of detail and were able to paint a clear picture of the experience. This is a clear advantage of mobile phone research, and when combined with an in the moment experience becomes even more powerful.
  • Location Analysis Overlay: the ability to use the participant location and how they move as an additional part of the analysis helped to bring the information to life and provide additional insights into behaviour.

Potential Barriers

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, and the pilot study also highlighted some important learnings for applying this type of methodology in the future.

  • Dropout: the dropout rates from recruitment through to survey completion were higher than expected. It is important to minimise the number of steps required to download the app and update phone settings. Also, user experience is critical, so dedicated panels could be a good option.
  • Geofencing is tricky: the process of collating the co-ordinates of target locations and setting up the geo-fences can be tricky. There is a need to set clear boundaries and ensure locations are not overlapping.
  • The phone is sacred: people are very attached to their phones and specifically battery life. You need to be clear in communications about what to expect and make sure the approach doesn’t sap too much battery life.

All said and done, there is massive potential to do more with mobile phones and location to get better insights. As mobile becomes the dominant channel for research, we need to start designing our approaches with a mobile first mindset. This will be further fuelled by the adoption of beacon technology that will improve the accuracy of location information. As a starting point, brands can look for opportunities within their research program that could benefit from getting closer to the “moment of truth”.

Asher Hunter, Managing Director Metrix Melbourne.

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