Survey data can be quite helpful. After all, it allows you to determine what’s working and what needs to be changed around to get more out of your online marketing efforts. Unfortunately, getting survey data usually means leaving the house. That’s a pain in the butt, especially if you’re housebound or disabled like me. But thankfully, there’s a solution: your phone.

Imagine my delight when I found a way to get survey data even when I’m lying in bed. So you’ll have to excuse me while I wax poetic for a bit.

The Evolution of Mobile Surveys

With the dawn of the mobile age, the lines between desktop and mobile marketing began to blur. Naturally, with the growth of smartphones and tablet computers, the collection of data became available in a much more convenient and flexible manner. This is especially beneficial for survey and marketing research, allowing marketers to remain mobile and continue gathering data even when traveling or moving about the house. This trend gave rise to the proliferation of ‘mobile surveys’, apps that utilize your phone’s GPS, WiFi and other sensors to gather data about your habits, behaviors and motivations. Here’s a quick overview of how mobile surveys came to be and how they operate.

Traditional Desktop-Based Surveys

Traditionally, surveys and similar types of research (focus groups, for example) have been conducted through desktop computers or tablets. With the rise of the internet and social media, it’s now possible to conduct research interactively, gathering responses via a survey tool and importing data into a database for analysis. Desktop-based surveys are quite popular as they can be accessed from any place at any time. And since they’re usually available on the web, there’s no shortage of respondents either.

New Methods of Mobile Surveying

As I mentioned, the growth of mobile surveys and similar technology-enabled methods of research has led to unprecedented levels of convenience when it comes to getting survey data. Naturally, with the enhanced capabilities of smartphones, tablets and the internet, new methods of surveying have emerged. Here are a few that I’ve found valuable:

Mobile Phones As Personal Data Trucks

If you’ve ever tried to walk and text at the same time, you’ll know how difficult it can be. Especially since your thumbs are basically tied to your phone.

For researchers who have to conduct surveys while on the move, smartphones and other mobile devices have become indispensable. Whether it’s a bus or a plane ride, shopping mall or restaurant visit, if you have a mobile phone with you, you have the potential to survey thousands of people in the vicinity. It’s akin to having a swarm of data-collecting bees on your sleeve.

For example, Uber’s research team uses mobile phones to survey customers as they explore different areas of London. When a participant finds an area that’s of interest, that person can click on a ‘start survey’ button to begin the process of answering questions about that location. This method not only allows the research team to examine customers’ behaviors in real-time, but it also allows them to track respondent movements through Google Maps. This level of detail gives them a complete picture of how people move around the city, where they go and what they do. Naturally, this level of detail also provides incredible opportunities for tailoring marketing efforts to fit the needs and behaviors of different demographic groups.

In-App Versus Mobile Web-Based Surveys

Since it has become so commonplace to conduct research via mobile device, many survey tools have emerged that are specifically designed for use on smartphones and tablets. These tools are quite comparable to their desktop-based counterparts, allowing you to create surveys and distribute them via QR codes or similar mechanisms. Some tools even offer unique features, such as the ability to record and store audio clips or take photos of survey respondents.

The difference between in-app and mobile web-based surveys is that the former are usually available only on mobile devices. This means that unless you have a smartphone, you won’t be able to take part in an in-app survey. At least not without finding a way to work around this limitation. Fortunately, many companies make a point of being accessible on all devices and ensure that their products can be used regardless of the device’s constraints. This includes accessibility for those with physical disabilities. So even if you’re unable to leave the house, you can still participate in an online survey.

Online Versus Offline Survey Methods

Most survey tools are accessible either online or offline. Offline surveys allow users to take part in research even when not connected to the internet. Naturally, this type of survey has its perks in that you don’t have to worry about missing out on any relevant data due to downtime or connectivity issues.

On the other hand, online surveys are usually faster and more convenient. They also offer additional features, like auto-submit and aggregation. For researchers who need to keep track of many respondents or respondents who live outside the United States, online surveys also offer the advantage of being able to export data into databases and analyze it through statistical tools.

Before you choose one method over the other, it’s important to remember the preferences and constraints of your target audience. Are you trying to reach highly engaged digital consumers who have high internet access and are constantly connected to social media? Or are you trying to reach respondents who have less connectivity and aren’t as tech-savvy? This is important because the way you present the survey will determine the respondents’ level of engagement. If you want the most accurate data possible, you should opt for offline research. If you want to save time and increase the chance of respondents filling out your survey, you should opt for online research.

Choose The Right Survey Tool

With the plethora of options available online, selecting the right survey tool can be quite the ordeal. Naturally, there are a number of different considerations that you need to make, from cost to features to technical support. Luckily, I’ve been meaning to write this post for the past few months, and thanks to some incredible tools designed for specific types of research, it’s finally time to spill the beans.

One of the most cost-effective options out there is SurveyTools, a company that not only offers a variety of tools for market research, but also provides a free trial, compensating you for your time. With a 14-day free trial, you have the chance to evaluate their services and see how automated marketing can help you save time and get more data for your research. With SurveyTools, you can create surveys that quickly generate a report with all the necessary details. This saves you the effort of going back and entering the data manually. Naturally, you can also set up automated reminders to ensure you don’t miss any important data points.

SurveyPal Is Another Valuable Option

Although I usually recommend SurveyTools, if you’re looking for something more basic, SurveyPal may be a better option. Like most other survey tools, it’s easy to set up and has a 14-day free trial. However, it’s also very limited in terms of features and functionalities. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a quick, easy-to-use tool for basic research, you can’t go wrong with it. SurveyPal does not allow you to distribute your survey through social media or other digital platforms, so if that’s something that you need in order to reach your target audience, you’ll need to look elsewhere.


Depending on your needs and the type of research you’re conducting, the method of getting survey data might change. Nonetheless, the fundamentals of research never go out of style. Whether you decide to go online or offline to get your data, using a few basic guidelines can help ensure you interview the right respondents and get the most out of your research time:

  • Use a reputable company that offers a money-back guarantee
  • Set a time frame for your survey
  • Prepare a list of questions
  • Use a digital compass
  • Review your results regularly
  • Export your data

If you’re looking for more detailed information regarding survey methodologies, you can download my free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Survey Research, where I cover all the essentials of getting started. And if you want to dive deeper into specific topics like mobile surveys or comparing in-app and mobile web-based research, you can also find relevant blog posts and other sources of information at my website.