You need data to inform your business strategy, but without the full story behind that data, you won’t know how best to use it. We’re here to help.
Most of the time, three versus one isn’t a fair fight. But if you’re talking about three little pigs versus one big bad wolf, things get a little more interesting.
Context is important, and while “The Three Little Pigs” might have a different moral for an audience of little children, for our purposes the moral of the story is this:
Quantitative data is never going to be enough to get a full sense of what’s happening. It’s qualitative data that helps you understand what’s actually happening and what you can do about it.
That means that you, as a marketer, need to look at far more data (and types of data). Most likely, you have gaps in your knowledge base, including key context needed to properly understand your leads and buyers and how to appropriately market to them.
We’re going to look at the value qualitative data offers you, how to collect and analyze it, and how to build a strategy around what you’ve learned.
Step 1: Collect qualitative data in addition to quantitative data
The only way for you to have the qualitative data that you need is to collect it. But that takes time and resources, and you might be a bit hesitant to let go of those precious commodities.
That’s OK! Let’s answer some questions around what it takes to collect qualitative data and—more importantly—why it matters.
Qualitative data adds value to your marketing strategy
Qualitative data is the key to having a customer-centric mindset. If you see your leads and your customers as only data, you’ll have an OK understanding of what to expect in terms of buyer behavior.
However, if you string this data together with the contextualization that qualitative data provides, you’ll have a complete story. And that complete story will give you a much clearer understanding of what your next steps should be in terms of strategy.
Let’s say your quantitative data shows that 30% of your leads drop out of the funnel at the selection phase. Until you collect qualitative data, you won’t know that it’s because your leads find it difficult to locate your list of offered features.
With both types of data, you have a sense of direction. You have a better understanding of your leads and what they’re going through. You can act—something made possible only by collecting that qualitative data.
How to collect qualitative data
There are a number of ways to collect qualitative data.
The farthest-reaching version is by tracking social media posts about your product. This is an easy way to collect feedback without being overly invasive and can also help provide context for people whose quantitative data you’ve already collected and who you don’t want to bother with more questions.
If you haven’t collected data yet but are planning to, consider using surveys. They are customizable, letting you ask qualitative and quantitative questions at once, making it easy to track people’s emotions in the moment.
If you have more resources at your disposal, you can utilize focus groups or interviews. Both of these tactics enable you to ask follow-up questions, gain clarification, and gather further insight into the way your customers and leads think.
Focus groups are less of a resource strain than one-on-one interviews, but they run the risk of time monopolization by one member of the group and/or members of the group influencing each other, tainting the results. Interviews are more personal, but require more time and money to conduct.
Step 2: Figure out what qualitative data is actually important
Between the numbers and the words you’ve gathered from leads and customers alike, you’re swimming in data. Some of it matters now, some of it might not matter for a while, and some of it might not matter at all. So, how do you tell which is which?
First, you need to know what exactly it is you want to do with this information. Are you looking for ways to change your product, your site, your content, your marketing campaigns, or something else entirely?
You need to answer that question to determine what data you’ve collected is the most valuable for you to analyze right now. From there, you’ll want to analyze both overall sentiments in your qualitative data and any trends you notice in your sentiment analysis.
For example, let’s say you find that people who find your website confusing also report an overall negative sentiment toward your product. Additionally, people who reported good interactions with customer support still report an overall negative sentiment toward your product.
In this case, looking at trends in interactions with your website will be more impactful than looking at trends in interactions with your customer support staff because of what you want to understand.
Once you’ve identified the most impactful data for where you are right now, it’s time to contextualize it.
Step 3: Contextualize quantitative data with qualitative data analysis
You have your quantitative data. You know what qualitative data is important. Now it’s time to see how the two fit together.
What you’re looking for in this step is the correlation between these two data types.
Let’s say your goals are to improve customer support. You find that solopreneurs in the restaurant industry contacted customer support an average of five times, and spoke incredibly negatively about the wait times they experienced each time.
However, enterprise companies in the restaurant industry contacted customer support at the same average rate, but raved about your customer support while acknowledging that the wait times were a bit long.
In this case, there’s a strong correlation between company size and general feelings about customer support. The qualitative data about wait times tells you exactly where you can improve and gives you a strong understanding that some of your smaller clients don’t have the time needed to wait for help from your customer service reps.
Such realizations should give you a strong sense of direction. If you want to improve your customer support system, you need to consider solutions like providing live chat services or chatbots to solve easier-to-fix problems for solopreneurs, increase your knowledge base, or hire more customer service reps.
Regardless of how you choose to address the problems brought to light by data correlation, you have the qualitative data to guide you along the way.