Increasingly, people are using mobile platforms for online activities – like shopping, reading, playing games and communicating on social networks. But when people use mobile devices, they exhibit characteristics and behaviors that differ from their desktop counterparts. As mobile usage continues to grow, it’s becoming critical to understand the mobile customers’ experiences, intentions and desires.  Here are 3 tips for creating an effective mobile survey that will give your mobile customers a voice.

1.  Realize time is precious

While the tasks that a mobile user does online may be as diverse as those done on the desktop, one ubiquitous characteristic of mobile is ‘time’. Mobile sessions are considerably shorter and mobile users are far more task oriented.

With time at a premium, respondent fatigue occurs faster and survey abandonment times are significantly shorter on the mobile platform than on the traditional ones. Keep surveys short and to the point, placing the most critical questions right up front. Don’t ask your user for more than one open-ended response, either: Typing long or detailed answers on a mobile keypad will cause exponential drop-off, and those that do complete may provide lower-quality answers later in the survey.

2. Optimize for the mobile form factor

Mobile users with larger screens generally prefer to use the ‘full’ version of the site as opposed to the mobile version. Phone-sized screens should be the researcher’s primary focus (not tablets), optimizing both the invitation and the survey itself for these smaller resolutions.

Survey invitations should only occupy a portion of the screen to avoid being regarded as advertisements, and the invitation text should be reduced to a single sentence. If you use a second stage to your invitation, make sure that the trigger (icon, overlay, etc) doesn’t obstruct the website.

The way people answer questions should be considered as well. Rating questions with complicated or long scales should be avoided, as should ranking questions (“place these items in order of…”). Single or multi-select questions are best, as they are quick to answer and less likely to fatigue your respondents.

3. Ask mobile specific questions

Don’t waste your mobile user face time by asking questions you already have millions of data points for.  While important, a mobile survey is not the medium from which to build detailed personas. General demographic data is something most companies have in spades, so unless a particular demographic criteria is essential for segmenting this specific piece of research, best to leave it out.

Ask questions that directly relate to the mobile experience, whether it’s mobile behavior or website feedback. Ask direct questions and keep the wording simple. “How would you rate your experience today” is much more effective than “Using the following 0-10 scale, please indicate how you would rate your overall website experience today.

Following the above steps will help you create a successful mobile survey. You are your survey’s best judge, however, so if you find the survey too long or ‘ugly,’ chances are your mobile user will as well.