Have you ever taken part in a focus group? They’re used all the time in the world of marketing and sales. A group of people are gathered together based on specific traits and demographics. They share ideas, thoughts, and perceptions about a particular topic, product, or service. The facilitator creates a non-threatening and receptive environment so each participant feels comfortable enough to share at will.

Focus groups have an advantage over other types of surveying and questioning in that they are flexible by design. They allow a moderator to dig deep into the psyche of the focus group members and get valuable information a company can use when moving forward in producing and selling their offerings.

But focus groups also have problems.

Blue Silhouettes Selected Out of a Group

Most focus groups are too small to be a true representation of your actual target audience. Because you’re pulling from a select pool that participates in focus groups, they are already biased in the way that they understand the process. They may also be getting compensated in some manner, which further biases the selection pool.

Focus groups also have a way of changing a person’s viewpoint. Because human nature tends to go along with their peers, if they find themselves on the other side of the line in a focus group, they may hold back or actually switch their opinion to blend more with the group.

And let’s face it; people in focus groups do so for their own agenda. Some like to dominate the conversation. Some like the payment (monetary or otherwise). You’re never quite sure if you have a good representation of how people really view what you’re offering.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could find out what people really think without the added burden of bringing them together in a group setting?

Maybe you can.

Maybe your mobile customers are your new focus group. Here’s why.

Mobile users are more engaged than desktop users

Think about your own computer experience for a moment. If you’re sitting at your desktop, you’re engaged in work-related activities. Chances are you’re at the office doing on-the-clock tasks. While you might take breaks and check in on email or open up Facebook to see what your friends are up to, you probably won’t dive into anything that takes more than a few seconds of your attention.

But when you pick up your mobile device, all bets are off. If you’re sitting in carpool line, you may have several minutes to engage. If you’re at your daughter’s soccer practice, you may have an entire hour to kill. It’s just you and your phone; you choose how long you spend on each app or task. And if something captures your attention, the minutes just slide away.

According to PEW research, 68 percent of US adults use Facebook, and three in four of those users open up Facebook every day. And this isn’t just Facebook alone. With our mobile device in our hands, we control what we see and what we engage in. We’re happy to participate in things that come our way.

Demographic Stats on a Laptop - Mobile Demographics

Mobile provides more demographics on a user than ever before

From a marketers perspective, mobile technology provides you with more demographics and data than with any other media source. You know what device they use, what they belong to, where they are, how they use technology, and a wide array of demographics depending on what they release. Because they are using their own personal devices, they are also more likely to release personal data if they feel they have something to gain.

Behind the scenes, this means you can target and market in very select ways. You know their behavior and their actions; why not develop personalized experiences just for them?

And the more a person trusts you, the more data they are willing to release. You can make your customer profiles even richer than they already are. And as you gradually learn their behavior, it can help you refine your marketing approach even more.

Mobile speeds up the collection process

If you’ve ever held a focus group, you know they take a lot of time. Time to develop it. Time to get the right people on board to handle it. Time to bring in different groups and track the data.

While it does take time to set up the initial online process, once you have a collection process in place, you can continue to run data for as long as you choose. Depending on how you set up your survey and response system, you can launch it in a matter of hours and continue to reap the rewards for months, even years to come.

What’s more, as you start to see trends and learn what your customers are thinking, you’ll start refining the process to dig deeper into what your customers want. You’ll dig deeper than superficial opinions and get right to the heart of what they’re thinking. This helps you develop even stronger marketing campaigns that can aim right for the heart.

Things You Should Know

What do you need to know?

If you’re ready to start getting feedback from your customers and solicit engagement online, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Develop your questions first. What do you want to know from your customers? Stretch beyond the basics and get to the details. You can refine this as you go.

Anticipate the answers. This can help you move your audience into different outcomes. As you become more sophisticated with the process, you might have several programs at once. If they meet specific requirements, you can push them into other groups to dive even deeper into the viewpoints.

Be specific. The last thing you want is a bunch of yes-no-maybe answers. You want details. You want people ready to answer the questions you want answers to. You want them ready to give you specific information you can use. The more you define and limit who enters, the better results you’ll have.

Follow up. People love participating if they get something at the other end. Sure, they may love rewards, but they also want to know where they fall within the results. How will you distribute the findings? How will you deliver it to the people who take part in the process?

We’re a world of quizzes and surveys and studies. We’re an audience that likes to rank ourselves based on where we stand with our viewpoints.

We want to be a part of the groups we choose to join.

And if you can help build that into your online platform, your mobile customers will love you even more.

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