How does qualitative data add meaning to your quantitative analytics?

Businesses need to understand the context and meaning of quantitative data and analytics before using it to make decisions which effect the bottom-line.

Qualitative insights are the prefect partner for quantitative analytics. The two approaches might seem like night and day, but in truth one is like a super power booster for the other.  With the advent of big data the push to use insights to predict consumer behavior has never been so great. But making decisions based on quantitative analytics alone, without first understanding the underlying motivation behind the numbers, is like driving a car at night without any headlights. Qualitative insights reveal the story behind the quantitative analytics.

A business or organistion needs to be aware of how qualitative insights can complete the picture, and how to effectively capture, analyse and action those insights. By integrating qualitative data analytics into your business or marketing processes you add context and meaning to your insights and are able to drive informed decisions.

So where do you begin?

To keep it simple lets look at some of the ways people naturally make use of qualitative information, and how that process can lead to more formal decision making based on structured qualitative analytics.

Identifying Response Trends

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While published critics use systems like “two thumbs up” or “4 out of 5 stars” to give concrete numbers to things like movies, in truth the evaluation is never that simple. Despite the complexity and nuance of someone’s opinion, overtime we can spot patterns in their responses based on the way they previously critiqued a similar movie. This natural learning process lets us determine things like “the acting was good, but the plot had holes” without having to read the full review. How many times have you watched a movie critique on T.V, and before they have said a word, you just knew they would score a movie low because it ‘wasn’t their cup of tea’? We got to know the why behind a critics “two thumbs up” or “4 out of 5 stars” rating based on the words, phrases and other qualitative patterns in their past behavior.

So how does this help you make better business or marketing decisions? Businesses can put this innate process to good use. Qualitative data often yields repeated answers or types of answers. By picking out these patterns in text-based responses, a brand can determine how the market perceives their products and services today, and how people would respond to a decision to change or introduce a product or service tomorrow. In the end, customer conversation and responses are far more meaningful than just using a quantitative scale to determine intention.

For example, let’s say you have a good customer retention score, but discover that, through the qualitative analysis of your online customer service chat discussions, existing customers are reluctant to buy more because they find the customer journey overcomplicated.

GroupQuality Story telling Insights

Insights from the stories we tell

Humans like to tell stories, and we certainly love to hear them! We are group learners who often impart wisdom and insight through stories. A friend may poetically describe how it feels to make a trip to the dentist, and you start to borrow their phrasing to share the experience with others.

Brands can use this tendency to learn through story telling. By listening to how a market describes their products and services. Who is the antagonist (villain) in your customer’s story and are you the hero who is going to solve their long standing problem. By capturing these stories, and through some well structured qualitative analysis, it becomes clear why your sales are falling, or alternatively, why your sales are growing when everyone else is struggling. The language a customer uses in their stories about you could be the next slogan, or could even generate an idea which sets the criteria for an improved product line.

Qualitatively dissecting stories customers tell about your competitors can be just as revealing.  For example, words, concepts or imagery thought to be ‘owned’ by a competing brand may be up for exploitation. The stories customers are telling about your competitor may include language and words which suggests they are struggling to deliver an experience consistent with their brand promise.

The tone and sentiment of the language used by your customers helps to measure the perceived value of a brand. Simply put, the way a customer talks about a brand, product or service, adds context to the sales result. Qualitative data analysis provides meaning to your marketing results, when quantitative analytics alone often sells the marketing effort short.

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