The term “data analytics” is not a buzzword in the field of marketing anymore. It is considered an essential ingredient of successful marketing strategies. A Big Data Analytics Market Study states that 53% of businesses, irrespective of sector or size, have implemented big data analytics to identify loopholes in their processes and discover new opportunities for growth.

However, data analytics is a coin with two sides, i.e., quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative metrics helps in analyzing user behavior and identifying industry trends. Such type of data sets usually has a scale (dollars, days, time), and helps you gain insights into several marketing metrics, including:

— What consumers are searching for (keywords, specific URLs, products or services)

— Where consumers are conducting their searches (location, web search)

— When consumers are conducting searches (date, time, season)

— How consumers are searching (desktop/tablet/mobile, query/browse/ask)

Although unbiased and largely reliable, quantitative data doesn’t go deeper into understanding insights into customer motivation and emotion, such as:

— Why consumers are conducting searches

— Their intention, goal, or motivation to search for a product, service, or brand

That is something that qualitative data can answer. It helps businesses understand why their customers behave the way they do at a particular point, and identify flaws and make improvements in the conversion process, thereby supporting business growth.

The main objective of any marketing strategy should be to connect with the target audience, and that also on a personal level. These seven qualitative research methods can ensure that:

1. On-site surveys

Such surveys help in collating qualitative data from the customer’s website experience. They help in gauging how well your product or service performs and fulfils the users’ needs. You can locate process bottlenecks, understand root causes of abandonment, and identify visitor segments whose different motivations for similar on-site activity go undetected by analytics.

If you know why visitors are on your website, how they got here, and whether they can easily find what they look for, it becomes easier to tailor future experiences. Some of the questions you can ask web visitors include:

— What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?

— Were you able to complete your task today? Example:

— If you were not able to complete your task today, why not?

Tools that can be used: Hotjar.com, Typeform

2. Individual interviews

This method of data collection can be long and tedious. However, it can open up a treasure box of interesting consumer insights and perspectives surrounding your business. An individual interview can be conducted over Skype, on the phone, or in person. The idea is to ask your customers a series of questions and follow-ups to learn what motivates them to buy a product like yours.

Ideally, you should prepare a list of questions before the interview. However, you don’t need to stick to the script. If they say something interesting, you can always ask follow-up questions to dig deeper. The key is to figure out what makes your customers tick.

Here are a few questions you can ask:

— Have you bought [insert your product] before?
— If so, what motivated you to buy it?
— What frustrates you concerning [insert your topic]?

Tools that can be used: Skype, Zoom

3. Live chat transcripts

The past five years have witnessed the rise of live chat as a powerful medium for resolving customer inquiries (41%). A 2010 Forrester study once stated that websites that can help resolve customer queries in real-time on chat are at an advantage.

That remains unchanged even after ten years. 63% of consumers who use live chat on your website are likely to return to you. For companies, live chat has led to an impressive 40% increase in conversion rate.

An AMA study reported that the platform could be effectively used throughout the customer journey, including:

— Early-stage sales development (32%)
— Marketing awareness (29%)
— Post-sales customer support (39%)

That means, the chat transcripts can give an insight into many aspects of your business including, what your customers are looking for on the website, what they feel is missing from your offerings, where you could make improvements, and others.

Striking the right chord with the customers is essential. The live chat transcripts can help in ensuring so quite effectively.

Tools that can be used: Any chat software, such as Olark, My Live ChatZendesk, tawk.to

4. Online surveys

As a business, you should always strive to find out who your customers are, what they want, and what they don’t want. And, what’s better than conducting online surveys for understanding your target audience’s point of view?

Even though surveying is a traditional method, it still rules the roost in planning marketing strategies. It allows you to gather a large amount of information in a short period. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) are convenient for consumers as they only have to mark the answers, and they can finish up a long survey promptly.

However, in case you want more vibrant or broad inputs, create a short survey with open-ended questions. The best surveys are a mix of different types of questions:

— Open-ended – What is it like to live in California?

— Closed-ended – Do you like learning French?
— Rating – How would you rate our service out of 5?

— Likert scale – How satisfied are you today with our customer service?
— MCQ – What is the capital of India? New Delhi | Ahmedabad | Mumbai | Bangalore

Since the objective is to get as many responses as possible, create an easy-to-fill survey. Don’t make it excessively long. Your audience will thank you!

Tools that can be used: SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms

5. Focus groups

Generally conducted in-person, focus groups offer a comfortable environment for your customers to discuss their thoughts and feelings surrounding your product or service. One of the biggest advantages of this type of research method is that you can see the consumer’s verbal and non-verbal reaction to your business.

Secondly, different members of the group can bounce off each other’s ideas and thoughts, which means you can gain more significant insights. For optimal results, decide the agenda for the discussion. You could explore the general concept of your offerings or evaluate your brand image or test product usage.

If meeting in-person is not possible, you can go for Google Hangouts or Zoom to organize a discussion. The participants can answer questions asked by a moderator and respond to images or videos on the computer screen.

Tools that can be used: Google Hangouts, Zoom

Before you bounce off, please remember:

Qualitative data is not measured but observed. And, no business can flourish if they don’t understand how their customers behave or react, and make improvements in their marketing communications and offerings to accommodate that.

However, there are no set rules for analyzing qualitative data. Therefore, you have to draw a line for yourself and analyze within that boundary. There is no end to gathering data to derive a proper strategy. The whole process is intuitive in nature. Decide the volume yourself.

You can’t use qualitative and quantitative data separately and hope to craft an effective marketing strategy. The two data sets have to be used in tandem with each other. At the end of the day, it is necessary to focus on the “whys” and “hows” and not just “what” and “where” in marketing.