In the last year or two, we’ve seen a considerable jump in the number of online surveys conducted. It is a becoming the quickest and most cost efficient way for our clients to reach out to their target audiences and gather a significant amount of data. We’ve conducted surveys among both consumer and business audiences using national research panels, our company’s own regional panel, and our clients’ databases.

When conducting online surveys, we’ve typically found that at least 33% of the respondents are using a mobile device or tablet.  A report by Knotice found that in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2012, 41% of emails were opened with either a smart phone or tablet.  Only 1 year prior (3rd and 4th quarter of 2011), 27% of emails were opened by either a smart phone or tablet. This shows the rapidly increasing usage of mobile and tablet devices in the last couple years.  With most survey invitations being sent by email, these statistics are very important.  Every survey response counts, especially when you’re looking at a narrow audience.  When aiming for an optimal response rate for the client – 41% is a number that can’t be ignored.

mobile survey

Pro Tip: Only use a pencil on your smartphone screen if you want to destroy it.

Developing and designing a successful survey that is optimized for mobile and tablet usage goes beyond just having mobile-friendly HTML and CSS mark-up, it is something that needs to be considered when designing the survey script as well.  Here are a few tips for being mobile friendly with online surveys:

  •  Stick to the necessary questions – taking a 20 minute survey on a smart phone is going to result in respondent fatigue and end in a higher drop-out rate.
  • Minimize the number of open-ended questions – even if this means turning your open-ends into multiple choice categories (with an “Other, please specify” catchall.)
  • If you’re going to use grid questions, minimize the number of grid options.
  • Consider reducing your 10-point likert scales.  Clicking 10 tiny buttons on a mobile screen isn’t very fun!
  • Follow the typical web design standards for being mobile friendly.  Users don’t want to have to zoom in and out, and slide the screen around just to answer 1 question.
  • Use large touch-friendly buttons, minimize unnecessary headers and be conscientious of the outside margin spacing.
  • Always pre-test the survey among a small sampling of mobile and tablet users.

Device cross-compatibility is a major consideration for web designers and must be considered during the survey design process as well.  Neglecting mobile and tablet users when developing a survey can result in a significant decrease in respondents and/or quality responses.  Our company, Research & Marketing Strategies, has worked to maximize response rates by taking the time to develop and design effective surveys for our clients. If you’re interest in conducting an online survey with Research & Marketing Strategies, please contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker, at or by phone at 1-866-567-5422.