Data collection projects are many researchers' bread and butter. Professors and researchers on university and college campuses are forever trying to find the most diverse sample group possible to collect survey results that are not only accurate but timely as well.
This process can require a lot of effort and a lot of in-depth screening in order to find the desired sample group of participants. Doing all of this manually can be especially difficult. What if there was a way to automate the screening and data collection process so that it becomes easier to manage, and more cost-saving as well?
As of 2015, approximately 64 percent of American adults own some kind of smartphone, while almost 75 percent of teens either possess or have access to a smartphone. SMS messaging has become one of the most popular ways of communication in recent years and it simply makes sense for researchers to take advantage of these figures and factor in SMS during their data collection endeavors.
With an automation platform that encompasses the ability to create and manage automated SMS campaigns, it is easier than ever to create and send data collection surveys and keep track of all the results all in one centralized location. The automation platform enables you to develop your SMS survey questions in advance and prepare replies and follow-up questions based on the answers you receive from participants.
Here are some benefits to using SMS automation to streamline your data collection processes:
Improve your response rate
More and more people are choosing not to answer their phones when they see an unknown number appear on their caller ID, due to an influx of scammers and robocalls. This practice of declining calls prevents legitimate researchers from making the initial contact with potential survey participants.
However, did you know that most people tend to open a text message within three minutes of receiving it? Sending SMS messages rather than phone calls could ensure that more potential subjects receive and read researchers' initial outreach messages, allowing them to choose whether they wish to partake in the survey or opt out. Even if you still receive the same number of willing participants as before, you now have more accurate data that tells you how many people actually declined, rather than ignored, your outreach attempt.
Reach a more diverse demographic
Not only is texting the preferred communication method amongst millennials, but it is becoming more and more popular with older generations as well. In fact, approximately 92 percent of American smartphone users over the age of 50 use SMS messaging at least occasionally as a way to communicate.
By doing data collection via SMS messaging, you are also able to gather more information from people of diverse backgrounds and financial statuses. Roughly 13 percent of Americans whose household earns less than $30,000 a year are dependent on their phones as their main source of internet access. This statistic includes 14 percent of African Americans and 13 percent of Latinos. Researchers who do their data collection primarily through email or other online methods may be unintentionally overlooking these particular demographics who have an extremely limited access to the internet.
By including SMS as an outreach method, the smartphone-dependent of various ethnic backgrounds will be represented in your results thereby making your results more well-rounded and accurate.
Simplify screening process and manage your sample groups
As was mentioned before, an automation platform can greatly make your participant screening process more efficient by enabling you to have all your SMS messages send automatically whenever you need them to. Easily screen participants by filtering out responses to specific questions and only following up with those who respond in a certain way. This process requires some effort being made upfront with the creation of all your SMS messages and replies, but once the initial work is out of the way, you are able to let the automation platform take over.
The automation platform can also help you to manage your sample groups once people start replying to your text messages. If the platform includes a built-in contact relationship manager (CRM) all of the data received from your participants will be stored in unique contact profiles within the system, with the information arranged in an accessible, easy-to-read format. Manage your different demographics by sorting them into lists that you can easily edit, and have them automatically update once new information is received.
Make your research budget go further
Using an automation platform to send out your SMS messages allows you to send more texts at a lower cost than if you were to use your own (or your organization's) phone plan, resulting in huge cost savings for your research project. By buying a certain number of SMS credits at the start, you have the ability to not only send more text messages at one time but send more text messages in general.
With the money you save during this step in your project, you are able to put more resources into other phases, such as further exploration and supplementary follow-up research.
Easily follow up with participants
Another benefit of using automated SMS messaging to conduct your research surveys is the fact that you have already collected information about your subjects and it's all stored in the CRM, so you can easily send out follow-up surveys to these same participants to gather more information regarding the project. Or, you can simply send out messages to thank them for participating in your project and ask whether there is anything you can do to improve future survey processes.
Everyone likes to know that they are appreciated, especially if they took the time out of their lives to partake in a survey. Sending a quick thank you message will make your participants more likely to participate in future surveys, keeping your data pool large and diverse.
SimplyCast allows your institution to do all of these things and more. Our automation platform can easily make your data collection process more efficient and accurate by giving you the ability to reach a wider demographic and store all your contact information and survey results in one, centralized location. You can set up a sophisticated drip campaign with all of your survey questions and follow-up answers that will deployed automatically once a contact responds to the initial SMS outreach message.