How they work
Many people are interested in taking survey from their phones. More and more market research companies are giving their survey takers the opportunity to take surveys from different devices including tablets, smartphones, flip phones, and more.
Just like regular online surveys, some panels specifically have studies available for smartphone users. Sometimes you will be asked to "connect" your smartphone to the panel so that you will receive optimized surveys for your device. Other times, you can simply take a regular survey that you receive through your e-mail, on your smartphone.
Why go mobile?
Mobile surveys have many 21st century advantages. One of the obvious advantages is accessibility; users who are contactable on their mobile surveys are reachable almost anytime and anywhere. How many of us leave our homes without our phones? Few of us do this anymore, which means that we're constantly tethered to a device that can keep us in the loop and contact us at any time.
Mobile surveys have added advantages of being able to collect special and unique information such as photos, audio and video from wherever the user is located. A company may want to know how their product is displayed on store shelves. Rather than hiring an army of people to go to various locations to take a look, they can contact people on their mobile devices, ask them to take pictures on their smartphones, and can pay them for their effort. Mobile surveys can be very powerful this way.
SMS vs Smartphones
Some older phones (such as flip phones) are very simple and only have SMS capabilities. These phones are popular in countries where the internet is not widely available, and are popular amongst people who want their phone to be little more than a phone and texting device. Having a basic phone like this doesn't mean you won't have access to mobile surveys - it just means that the surveys themselves will be different.
SMS phones can only receive surveys that are deliverable by SMS, which means that the surveys will typically consist of only a handful of text messages. You may be sent a text message with a question where you are asked to text your answer back. You might receive a few more of these, at which point the survey concludes.
Contrast this with smartphone surveys, where you can take interactive surveys full of graphics, video and even audio. You can take surveys that are similar to those offered in a regular desktop setting, or the surveys can take advantage of the easy and accessible photographic and video capabilities available at your fingertips.
There are a handful of survey panels who have survey taking apps available on Google Play or the Apple Store. These apps need to be downloaded separately in order to use them, although you can typically use the same login credentials as you would on their regular panel website. The advantage of using these apps is mainly convenience; you will typically have your account history, survey taking history, available surveys, etc. all accessible through the app. You will also often get notified of new surveys right through the app, versus having to check your e-mail to see if a new study is available. Definitely consider using an app if you are serious about making the most out of survey taking.
Ensuring you keep it free
One thing to be aware of when you take mobile surveys (on your smartphone) or use an app, is that you will be using some of your phone's data. In order to keep this free, ensure that you're connected to your house's wifi or to a public wifi spot so that you don't have any unexpected charges on your next cell phone bill.