MERL Tech DC 2019 has ended
Thursday, September 5 • 11:15am - 12:15pm
Tech Is Easy, People Are Hard: Behavioral Design Considerations to Improve Mobile Engagement

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Technology abounds for conducting MERL with developing communities and markets using mobile channels (SMS, IVR, USSD, WhatsApp etc.). As one provider, Echo Mobile is often asked, “what sort of response rate can I expect for my SMS survey?” or, “what percentage of my audience will engage my IVR initiative?” The unsatisfying answer is always the same: it depends. And financial incentives don't always make a difference.

Whatever your mobile engagement technology, achieving MERL goals often rests on the design and psychology behind your mobile engagement strategy—the content, tone, language, and timing of your communications and the underlying incentives of the audience. Technology is easy, but people are hard, and these are psychological and strategic considerations more than technological ones.

We’ll raise them for deeper discussion. Instead of “it depends”, we’ll dig into what engagement depends _on_. We’ll present two cases (5-10mins each) of organizations that use the Echo platform, and which have increased mobile engagement by experimenting and tweaking their approach rather than having us tweak the technology:

1. A UN agency that nearly doubled SMS engagement rates from 40,000 Kenyan teachers by dropping financial incentives and tweaking the structure, tone and content of their messaging.

2. A BBOXX team in Rwanda that sought to understand the welfare impact of solar consumption amongst their customers via SMS surveys. They first ran a set of small experiments, modifying survey financial incentives, timing, length, and language to see which moved the needle on response rates and compare the results to what customers told them in focus groups. Only one of these tweaks made a difference, and despite what customers had said in the focus groups, it wasn’t the financial incentives! But it nearly doubled response rates.

These two examples will not be the focus of the discussion, but will prompt an interactive discussion to draw out the experience of other participant that reinforce or challenge our takeaways about how to grow and sustain mobile engagement to achieve MERL goals.

avatar for Boris Maguire

Boris Maguire

CEO, Echo Mobile
Boris Maguire is the CEO of Echo Mobile, which develops the Echo platform—one of few software-as-a-service tools built in Africa, for Africa. Over 300 organizations have used the Echo platform to engage, influence and understand the markets and communities they serve through intelligent... Read More →

Thursday September 5, 2019 11:15am - 12:15pm
Vista FHI 360 Conference Center, 1825 Connecticut Ave, 8th Floor, Washington, DC
  • session type Participatory session

Attendees (35)