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Email Sampling Is Dead: Long Live The Web (and mobile)!

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by Matt Dusig, Co-founder & CEO

Every once in a while, I like to rock the boat. With this blog title, it seems I’ve just predicted the demise of one of the core functions of sample delivery and it’s not only a challenge to the MR industry, but to uSamp as well. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop recruiting panelists into surveys using our email sampling systems — that would mean cutting off the lifeline of the millions of panelists that come through our systems every month. But, having experienced many technological changes in my life, I have become more adept at recognizing the decline of traditional methodologies. And in this case, the next casualty of panelist recruitment and engagement will be email delivery.

Technology eclipsing itself is nothing new. Look at the terrestrial radio industry and the constant decline of listeners and advertising revenue to online and satellite streams. Over-the-air broadcast radio still works and millions still use it, but it’s on the decline and the industry is undoubtedly changing forever.

Market researchers may not being dealing with the loss of radio listeners, but they can certainly learn a lesson from their peers in the music business. The writing is on the wall: Over time, email-based sampling and recruitment will diminish in value.

When I started in sampling in 2000, email response rates were high and email marketing was a valuable way to drive web traffic for lead generation and monetization. But today, just like radio, response rates for email continue to decline.

So what’s next?

The resources we devote to our current sampling solutions are being redistributed. We’ve always used the web to engage consumers and motivate them into taking surveys. Intercepting people online has always been a valid method of recruitment. So as email declines, the Internet will eventually become the primary vehicle for engaging respondents in online surveying.

Back in 2001, while running goZing, my partner and I created one of the first real-time, web-based recruitment and sampling methods. It was called the goZing Network and after selling goZing to Greenfield, it was later re-branded as the Greenfield Real-Time Sampling system (RTS). Today it’s the Toluna RTS.

Now, numerous sampling companies offer non-email-based solutions: Toluna RTS, eRewards Peanut Labs, SSI Dynamix, GMI Pinnacle and our course uSamp’s Patented Routing Queue and uSamp’s Opinion Place (DMS) River are just a few examples.

I don’t see changes in recruiting and sampling methodology as negative. It’s a reality of today’s consumer behavior both online and on mobile. As long as we recognize the shift, and prepare our methodology and technology to accommodate for the future, we can ensure a healthy, active industry.

So, now the question you’ve all been waiting for: What will eclipse web-based methods?

Mobile apps will change the way consumers and researchers communicate with each other. Push notifications will dramatically affect the way consumers are invited to participate in research projects. And the usage of mobile device functionality, such as the camera for photo taking and video and audio recording, will forever morph qual and quant surveying into a singular research solution.

It may not be next year, but wait and see — like online streaming radio, its time will come. uSamp is betting the farm on it.

Matt Dusig

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November 20th, 2012

Posted in Mobile Research

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  1. Agree with the author. Technology has changed everything dramatically.

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