Welcome back to engageSPARK’s Sparking Interest, where we dive deep into the latest stories, insights, and innovations that matter to your communication projects.

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IOM – UN Migration: WhatsApp surveys empower illiterate populations

In our last issue, we discussed the capabilities of our WhatsApp survey tool in accessing difficult-to-reach populations. The case study in this edition takes this one step further: Imagine your spoken words crossing international boundaries, reaching hundreds of people in their own tongue.

That’s what happened when the International Organization for Migration used WhatsApp, a tool we all use to chat with friends, to conduct surveys in Senegal. They turned voice snippets into a powerful survey tool, reaching out to people in their own language, on a platform they use every day. This isn’t just any survey; it’s about connecting, understanding, and making every voice count.


WhatsApp surveys for humanitarian projects and academic research

Conducting phone surveys in areas with unreliable signals, where dropped calls are frequent, represents a significant challenge for data collection. The Voice IVR Reconnect feature by engageSPARK is a game-changer, seamlessly resuming interrupted surveys without manual intervention.

This feature is crucial for engaging hard-to-reach populations, ensuring surveys automatically continue from the last point of interruption. It not only saves time but also reduces costs for organizations. Early adopters report survey completion rate increased from 28% to 183%.

engageSPARK’s Voice IVR Reconnect enhances survey efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring valuable data collection despite connectivity issues.

IVR or SMS? Which one should you use?

Using motivational marketing materials, YLabs encouraged at-risk youth to text a keyword to a local toll-free number to enroll in a campaign, which then sent them SMS messages over time to nudge them to get tested for HIV. When a participant replied that they were “ready” to be tested, they’d get an SMS survey with a few back-and-forth questions where they could choose to get an OTS (on-the-spot) test or to have an HIVST (self-test) kit delivered to them.

Of those who subscribed to the campaign:

  • 1,070 (61% of subscribers) texted that they were “ready” to test for HIV;
  • 973 of those youth (91%) received HIV testing;
  • 710 participants (73%) got tested for the first time ever or for the first time in more than 12 months.

Getting these results was not straightforward—a lot was learned during the initial pilot phase.


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