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Going beyond numbers – value of qualitative research in market insights

Qualitative researchIf you’re a fan of statistics, know this: 95% of purchasing decisions people make are 100% subconscious. They’re based on emotions and sentiments rather than on cold, hard facts.

That’s why it’s important for even numerically-minded people to delve beyond the quantitative and gather qualitative marketing insights. Read on to learn all about qualitative research and why it may be even more valuable than the numbers.

What Is Qualitative Research?

To understand the ins and outs of qualitative research, it’s important to first know the basics of quantitative research methods. Those who conduct quantitative research deal with numerical data. This includes statistics, metrics, numeric figures, and objective facts.

Quantitative research allows you to visualize real-time data. You can compare it, find correlations between variables, and experiment with the variables to find causation. This is valuable, but it also has a limited scope and makes it challenging to assess non-numerical variables like emotions and behaviors.

That’s where qualitative research comes in. It goes beyond data and statistics to get more nuanced information about consumer feelings, brand-related sentiments, and why people gravitate toward certain brands and products. Rather than simply answering the question of what people are doing, qualitative research digs into the why.

In other words, it’s concerned with cases instead of numeric variables. You want to understand people’s thought processes rather than simple metrics.

Gathering Insight: An Example

For example, let’s say that you’re an online eCommerce shop looking to market new fashion products. Quantitative data can show you what target demographics you should cater to. It can also show you website analytics like bounce rates and conversion rates, which products are most popular, and what channels people use to find your goods.

Qualitative research will dive into what brings people to your shop. You can ask them to fill out forms detailing why they chose to click on your website. You can inquire about which products they liked the best and why.

You can also ask questions about points of influence that brought them to your site, what other brands they have shopped with in the past, and what about your website they like or dislike.

This will give you insight into the reasons that your quantitative research looks in the way that it does. You’ll gain a better understanding of their feelings as well as what drives their behaviors.

Why Are Qualitative Customer Insights Important?

Over 80% of data that exists online is unstructured. This means that it can’t be accurately showcased in rows, columns, and numerical databases. It usually comes from blog posts, emails, images, audio files, video content, and spreadsheets.

This unstructured data has nothing to do with numbers. It can’t be turned into a quantitative table. So, qualitative assessments are necessary to understand the vast majority of online information.

Understanding Consumer Behavior

Qualitative research lets you observe and hear from consumers directly. A lot of buyer behavior is subconscious, so they may say one thing and do another thing. They likely aren’t aware of these discrepancies, and engaging directly with them will give you actual insight into their beliefs and actions.

You can look into whether they search for things from specific brands, purchase things that they originally went to your site for, or filter your offerings based on price. You can then ask them whether or not they did these things and why. This will let you make more engaging ads that appeal to people’s subconscious biases.

Providing More Specific Information

Quantitative studies have huge sample sizes, but the information isn’t specific. Qualitative studies have smaller sample sizes, but this is a blessing in disguise.

People will give you more in-depth information, and you’ll have time to seriously consider what they have to say. You can figure out how those in the bulk of your target audience prefer to shop.

Measuring Marketing Impact

Qualitative research puts consumers in an environment where they see all the marketing messages you’re researching. You’ll have the chance to see which ads they emotionally engage with and are likely to click on. You also can see what they zero in on when recording their experience with your marketing campaigns so you can determine what’s most relevant to them.

A marketing agency can help you make sense of these feelings and behaviors.

Improving Branding Strategies

Since you’re tailoring your brand to your target audience, qualitative research will help you improve branding strategies so you’re perceived more positively.

You’ll know your target audience’s personalities better. You can create a brand voice they identify with and show them things you think they’ll be interested in.

By creating a relationship with individuals, you’ll know how to make them feel emotionally and personally invested in you. Your SEO blog posts, PPC ads, and product pages will skyrocket in quality.

How to Conduct Qualitative Research Appropriately

Setting goals is the first step of any research strategy. You need to know what insights you’re looking for so that you get useful information. This means figuring out what questions you’re aiming to answer.

If you’re trying to figure out why people linger on certain product pages more than others, you’ll want to ask questions about your website’s functionality. Some inquiries might include:

  • What drew you to our website in the first place?
  • What types of products were you hoping to find/purchase?
  • Was the navigation system easy to understand?
  • Did you visit on a mobile device?
  • How do you like the layout of (x) page?
  • How do you like the layout of (y) page?
  • Is there anything that you’d change to make the website easier to use?
  • Did you purchase any products today? If so, what were they?

You could compare multiple answers to determine:

  • What types of content people like to see on your website
  • What products you should emphasize on your page or in ads
  • How the navigation system works for people on desktops vs mobile
  • What page layout features make the website accessible (colors, fonts, highlighted information)
  • Whether consumers overwhelmingly see a way to improve the site
  • Which people buy which products (and whether that correlates to their opinions of different parts of your webpage)

Before reaching out to your target audience, you need to decide what method you’ll use to conduct the research. This will depend on who’s involved in your research, where your operational area is, and what product is being surveyed.

Online Forms

One of the simplest ways to gain qualitative insights is to have customers fill out an online comment form. Make sure that it isn’t too long- you don’t want people to get frustrated and click away. But typing up the most important 3-5 open-ended questions you have is a great way to get fast and relevant qualitative insights.

You can offer a promotion to those who use your form. Think about a special offer like a free ebook or product add-on. A coupon for 20% off or a BOGO promo is also a great incentivizer.

Use Focus Groups

Online focus groups bring 6-10 people together in an internet forum. They talk to one another and to a representative of your brand about your products, services, and website. The people in this group will all share a common buyer profile that represents your wider target market.

You can ask them questions and have everyone interact with you at once. You can also watch them interact and bounce ideas off each other. They may end up working together to feed off one another’s ideas to give you promising future suggestions.

Conduct Deeper Interviews

You may also choose people who match your ideal buyer persona and schedule one-on-one interviews with them. This will be a small sample size, but talking to 3 people for 30 minutes each will give you the in-depth insight that your company needs to thrive.

Just make sure that you choose appropriate interviewees. Make sure that they truly are your ideal customer so that you get feedback from the best possible audience. If you wisely use customer segmentation strategies, try to get multiple people and have each one represent a different segment of your target market.

Analysis and Reporting

Make sure that experienced interviewers are the ones to communicate with target audience members. They’ll know what questions to ask and how to lead them toward useful insights.

Once you design and conduct your surveys, gather the data in one place. Professionals at 46 Mile will then analyze it and provide actionable insights. This is one of the most important steps of qualitative research because it helps you determine how to act.

Finally, experts will put your data into an easily readable format. You can then look at it on your own, share it with company higher-ups, or let customers look at it if it’s relevant to them.

Use Qualitative Insights the Right Way

While quantitative market research can provide you with basic facts, qualitative insights dig deeper. They allow you to interact with people, understand their emotions and behaviors, and determine what these attitudes mean for your brand.

Now that you know what qualitative research is and why it’s valuable, it’s time to begin gathering accurate insights. Experts can help you come up with compelling online forms, access interactive features, and integrate any research you gather into your next marketing campaign.

Reach out to 46 Mile’s team to create a comprehensive marketing strategy tailored especially to your needs.

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