Data is used in many ways by businesses to improve products, increase sales and reduce the bottom line. Knowing what types of data are available, what benefits each type can provide for your company and how to incorporate data analysis into your business model can help make the process easier for all kinds and sizes of companies. Quantitative data, or data that focuses on the numbers, can offer many benefits such as showing you were to focus efforts, which products are doing the best or worst, and illustrating to potential clients that you know what you are talking about. Qualitative data, which focuses on the details, can give you more specific feedback for in-depth queries to smaller groups such as which software features gave the most benefits or why a specific retail location is struggling to make sales goals.
Understand the Difference Between Data Types
When you are looking for the answer to a specific question such as product feedback, qualitative market research is the best place to start. With this type of data, you focus on a relatively small survey group and ask questions with long-form answers. This gives you more specific details which you can use to improve your products and services. In contrast, when you are looking for gaps in the market or improving your sales tactics, quantitative data is the way to go. In this type of market research, a large audience is provided a survey with short-form answers which can be easily converted into numbers or the numbers are gathered from publicly available information. An AI or machine learning software can then generate a report to show you how many units of an item are sold, how many searches for a specific term are performed in a day or the average temperature for a location. This data is good when comparing this year’s sales to those from last year, when looking for the next viral product trend or even determining the health of the economy.
Know When To Use Each Type
Since you cannot gather qualitative and quantitative research at the same time, knowing which one to use for your needs is crucial to getting the job done correctly. Quantitative data is best used for determining the health of a market, statistical analysis and identifying your market size, the questions for which having population-based statistics is more important than gathering personal opinions. This type of data can be broken down into quick facts such as how many customers would recommend your business or how your services improved a client’s online footprint.
It is best to use qualitative data when you want to know more about the results from a quantitative study. For instance, if your study shows a decline in business from a specific location, then you can use a qualitative study to determine what factors are leading to the loss. This kind of study can result in authentic and untainted reviews of your products and services, giving you insights into needed improvements and how your offerings play into the larger market.
Identify the Benefits
In addition to helping you improve your business, both quantitative and qualitative studies offer benefits in how they are conducted. Quantitative studies are usually less expensive than others because they can be conducted in a quick questionnaire over the phone, at the point-of-sale or online. They can also target more people because the focus is on the numbers more than the details of the respondents. Conducting the study can bring more brand awareness to your company and introduce you to audiences you have yet to target with advertising. Since qualitative studies are conducted in focus groups, you get the benefit of spontaneous idea generation as well as the ability to see first-hand how respondents react to each other and the information presented.
Work with Pros
Regardless of which type of market research you conduct, you will want to hire a professional company to help you with the studies. This can put you in contact with the right respondents, form better questions to gather the answers you are looking for and give you access to the tools and talent these businesses have spent years developing. A market research company can also help you determine which questions you need the answers to for growth and which type of study will be the most beneficial to find those answers.
Have Clear Questions
Knowing what you want to know is the first step in choosing the right questions but making sure that they are clear and concise is much harder. Ambiguous wording of a survey or focus group questions can lead to confusion on the part of the respondents and leave you with information you cannot use. This is a good place to combine quantitative data with qualitative research because you can use the data you gather from large study on the numbers to pinpoint where you need to improve and ask a focus group for ideas on how to make that improvement. For instance, if your quantitative study shows that your last advertisement campaign was a flop, you can use qualitative research to ask focus groups which element of the campaign was the least engaging and which was the most.
Make Changes to Your Model
Chances are that your market research will raise more questions than it answers, which just means that you need to reformulate your model and try again. Sometimes you and your audience can look at the same factors and data but draw different conclusions because you each have a unique perspective. Even though this type of data may not address the issue you wanted to, it can still provide you a reference point to how the public perceives your company, products and services which you can build on for further insights.
While you cannot conduct multiple types of market studies with the same campaign, you can combine the reports from both qualitative and quantitative gathering techniques to form a more complete picture of how your company is doing. Using reports from both studies will show you where you are by the numbers as well as give you insights into what factors are impacting those numbers.
Once your studies and reports are done, you will have some ideas for moving forward with new products, policies and procedures. Implementing these changes will take communication with your staff and your customers for best effect. This can give warning that changes are coming, inform everyone on what these changes mean for staff and customers, and motivate your staff to stay engaged with the company. It may even prompt innovations from your team to better incorporate your findings in various aspects of your company. For instance, if your research says that customers prefer more environmentally friendly companies, then your employees may design initiatives to promote green changes in the office as well as the supply chain.
Gathering data and research on the market, your company and your competition can help you improve your bottom line. Two types of data research you can perform are quantitative and qualitative with the former focusing on performance numbers and the latter gathering opinions and insights. You can use both types to gauge how your business improves the lives of customers as well as to pinpoint where improvements should be made to your processes, products or services.