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  • Writer's pictureBruce Crandall

New Video: Avoiding Pitfalls with Mobile Diaries

Mobile diaries have been around for years. When done right, they can give you in-the-moment insights like few, if any, other market research solutions can. BUT they can be difficult to execute. Recently, I had an interview with Bob Lederer, Editor and Publisher of RFL Communications, Inc. where we discussed the benefits and pitfalls of mobile diaries, and I thought I’d share some of the content in today’s blog.

What is a Mobile Diary?

Mobile diaries allow people to give feedback in context – when they’re using a product, eating a food or otherwise participating in an activity such as shopping. They allow you to be with your consumers when they’re making decisions about your product or service, capturing in-the-moment insights that are rarely achievable in traditional market research.

Types of mobile diaries include:

  • Consumption diaries - Measure food or beverage consumption (who, what, when, where, why)

  • Product usage diaries - Track product usage to understand sweet spots and pain points

  • Shopper/purchase diaries – Understand what people buy from each channel and what drives choice (your shopping patterns for the week)

  • Experiential diaries: Understand what people are experiencing by having them complete tasks and/or give unstructured contextual feedback (your week on the cruise)

Best of all, mobile diaries allow people to share photos, videos and recorded messages, or use the chat capability to give you rich insights you can’t get from typical surveys.

My EZ Diary is an excellent example of the App from Mobile Digital Insights
Example: My EZ Diary

The 3 Problems with Mobile Diaries

Mobile diaries are ideal for many needs, but, unless you handle them right, they can be fraught with minefields where you least expect them.

1. Drop-Offs

How do you keep people involved and motivated? Because mobile diaries can take place over days or weeks, people often drop out. Effective tactics to prevent this problem include sending reminders, thank-you notes and encouraging messages. In addition, it’s best to keep tasks short, avoid being repetitive, minimize open-ends and use skip logic. Incentives don’t hurt either!

2. Labor Hours

A second problem is the labor hours needed to deliver the questionnaires and tasks. How do you control the management time that mobile diaries may need, especially if you’re sending reminders, thank you notes and encouraging messages? We use our Mobile Digital Insights Mobile Diary App, a powerful platform that has built-in management tools, to keep hours in check. Be sure the research provider or platform you use has automation tools such as this to help you do it right.

3. Cost

With all of their benefits, another problem with mobile diaries is that they can become expensive. There are two keys to contain costs: control labor hours through intelligent automation (mentioned in #2 above) and control the costs assessed by research providers for doing multiple surveys. Most providers charge for each completed survey. A beverage diary may have 30 or more short surveys over four days so costs can quickly escalate. Be sure your provider is not locked into “cost per complete” survey obligations. If you need some guidance on controlling costs, reach out to us.


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