Tech-Savvy Researcher Feature – All Teens Online, One in Four Go Mobile-Only

It’s hard to forget the cacophonous bleeps, fuzz and buzz of our modem logging onto AOL in our pre-teen years. An exciting, confusing time when popular use of the internet was dawning, but so frustrating was that noisy wait to discover whether or not we had mail. There are few things we could hate so much as a kid but actually be nostalgic for now. And while we don’t need a research study to tell us that the sound so ingrained in our memories of childhood is something the youth of today will never experience, it is interesting to find that not only do they no longer need modems, but at least one in four don’t even need a computer.

A recent Pew Study revealed that a quarter of teens (aged 12 – 17) access the internet primarily through mobile devices. This shouldn’t surprise you – rarely is a teen seen without a cell phone these days, and half the phones in their hands are smartphones. The firmly fascinating find in this study is that any vacillating holdouts have finally been bred out of our electronic culture – almost all teens (95%) use the internet. This is – again not surprising – the highest percentage of any age group.

So what do we as marketers do with this combination of circumstances? Almost every single teen in America is a web surfer, a google-map maven, a social networking nut. And 1 in 4 of them do it solely on a smartphone or mobile device, the other 75% allocating browsing time amongst mobile, pc, smart tv, etc.

The answer is – be a mobile presence.

What we have is a generation that’s grown up with no memory of a world where any information they could want or need isn’t available immediately and at the touch of. . .well. . .queue overused ironic sentiment about how the world is now literally at their fingertips. Considering this, marketers are free to spend less time trying to empower this demographic (already made confident by not wanting for any info or data), and more time considering how we want them to use that empowerment.

A strong mobile presence has that influence. The need for every website to be accompanied by a mobile page is becoming more and more significant. Social networking is mobile. Sports – mobile. Entertainment – mobile. Even news – mobile. Without that www.m. to supplement, the site will suffer, or at very least lose out.

And the reach that’s lost out on is now one quarter of the most tech-savvy generation in history.

TSR Tech Savvy Researcher Spin

A few tips on taking advantage of Mobile technologies when conducting research with Teens…

When conducting research with Teens, it is extremely important that you are aware of the fact that a significant amount of Teens will attempt to participate in your online research project using a mobile device even if your project was not designed for mobile.  It is important to keep this in mind when dealing with Teens and to be sure to pick a tool(s) that allows you to optimize your project for multiple screens and mobile devices.

Responsive Research Design

If possible, be sure that your Teen research project, survey, website, discussion forum or community activity technology you choose utilizes a “responsive” design…meaning the tool will “respond” to the device that the user is accessing the project from and optimize the project for that mobile device screen size regardless of whether they are using a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.  “Responsive Research Design” offers several key advantages when dealing with teens, it will help to increase your ability Teens where they already are, enhance the overall user experience for them and in turn, help to improve response rates, engagement rates,  and the likelihood that the Teen will come back to complete the project.  You are catering to their experience, you understand them, and you get the data that you need.  Leading edge market research technology companies offer “responsive design” services and technologies to allow you to optimize virtually online research project for Mobile including mobile optimized online research panels, insight communities, survey, discussion forums and other community based research activities.

Mobile Notifications

When appropriate, use mobile alerts and push notifications as communication tools in addition to email to notify your Teen research study participants of important project information.  Many Teens rarely check email and often have so many different email accounts that these can quickly go stale.  A great way to make sure that you are doing your best to reach research participants, panel and community members, where they already are is to use some form of mobile alerts.  This can be either a text message, push notification sent to the Teen’s mobile device (app based), or both.  This will allow you to reach your Teens wherever they are and in a way they are already using to communicate amongst each other on a daily basis.  Mobile alerts do not need to replace traditional email alerts but are great way to compliment your existing project communications program.

Combining the Two

When you combine both mobile optimized responsive design research projects and mobile alerts, you offer a quick, convenient, and familiar way for Teens to complete your research activity and at the same improving their overall experience.  Mobile notifications can quickly be deployed and Teens can immediately receive your project alert, access and complete your study all from their Mobile Device.  Offering Teens a mobile optimized option for completing your research project can result in higher completion rates, faster results, increased engagement, and a better overall user experience.


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