The term Big Data is a buzzword in the business world today. One study found that 77% of business decision makers consider Big Data a priority.
You’ve probably heard of it. In fact, you probably use various forms of Big Data for your SaaS, including conversion analytics.
But when we talk about Big Data and analytics, we’re often discussing only quantitative data. We look at numbers and what they can tell us about our target market and our business. We use those numbers to make decisions, and it’s great, but what if there’s more to the story.
At ZoomShift, we’ve used quantitative data to help us grow, but we’ve also used qualitative data. In fact, qualitative data helped us increase conversions by over 700%!
Qualitative data can’t really be measured, but it can be observed. The observations you make about what a target market feels and does can lead to incredible insight. That insight allows you to make important decisions for your business.
Here is how you can increase SaaS conversions by using qualitative data.
Why Qualitative Data Matters
Quantitative data certainly matters. For instance, traffic is a very basic type of quantitative data. It’s actually some of the most important data to watch. In general, traffic leads to conversions. More traffic means more conversions.
With quantitative data, you can dig even deeper and figure out which pages are the most trafficked. With that data, you might be able to figure out if there is something wrong with your conversion process.
But numbers like traffic don’t tell you the full story.
This is why qualitative data matters.
Qualitative data connects you with your visitors and target customers. You can learn why they do what they do on your website. You can learn the emotions they’re feeling as they make their way through your website. You can understand their interaction with your branding and design and overall website experience.
Think of it this way: You can track a visitor on your site. You can see that they visited. You can see the pages they visited. You can even tell how long they spent on each page and which page they were on last, just before they left.
But you can’t ask that person why they visited in the first place. You can’t understand the emotion they had as they made their way through your site.
For example, you can see that a person spent 3 minutes on your product page, but you don’t know if that’s because they were learning about your product or because they couldn’t find the information they wanted.
Qualitative data gives you insight into the “why.”
Without that qualitative insight, you’re looking at only part of the story, and your own bias can get in the way. It can lead to poor decisions and poor business outcomes.
We know because it happened to us at ZoomShift.
How to Use Qualitative Data
Qualitative data helped us create a better setup process for signups.
You can use qualitative data for all kinds of things.
We recommend starting with three that can lead to increased conversions for your SaaS:
- Product / Market Fit
- User Experience / User Interface
- New Features
First, qualitative data can help you determine if there is a market for your product. Numbers like market size are helpful, but getting feedback from actual people can be much more valuable.
Qualitative data about a certain market can give you the information you need to ensure your product fits. In the ‘90s, Google was just another search engine. They could see by using other engines, and watching people use those engines, that there was room for something better.
Qualitative data can help you identify frustrations and needs in market places. When you find those needs, you’ll have found a niche for your SaaS.
Second, you can make user experience and user interface changes based on qualitative data. Google’s Marissa Mayer purposely used a dial-up connection so she could experience Google the same way many of Google’s users did. She could feel the emotion many users felt when using Google. Her experience was a big reason Google always focused on page speed for its products.
When you know how your customers feel about your software, you can make better decisions about how to improve their experience. When they’re frustrated, it’s a sign that changes need to be made. Usually, it’s a matter of making things more intuitive, simpler, and faster.
Third, when adding new features, you can better determine what should be implemented with qualitative data. Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
We like to look at it from a different angle. Customers might not know what they want, but they sure do know what frustrates them.
For example, a big frustration with WordPress has been copying and pasting. People love copying and pasting text from all kinds of other apps like Microsoft Word, Google Drive, and more. There have been ways to paste into WordPress, but there were frustrations for users. The formatting would get all screwed up.
In recent releases, WordPress has made it easier and easier to paste information into a blog post from many different sources. By adding this feature, WordPress has made their product better. And it’s all because they focused on qualitative feedback from users.
The Best Ways to Gather Qualitative Data
Now, it’s time to get into the tools to use for gathering qualitative data.
There are a few different options, but the following are the ones we’ve used to help improve our own conversions at ZoomShift:
Qualaroo helped us ask our visitors specific questions during their experience.
Qualaroo helped us learn why our visitors were doing things on the pages of our websites. A little pop-up from the lower right-hand side of the page would ask our visitors questions. The questions were specifically related to the page the user was on.
For example, on our product page, we asked customers:
Do you have any questions before you inquire about your free trial?
By asking this question, we figured out which content was missing (or should be removed) from the page to improve the experience. The feedback helped us increase conversions.
Qualaroo has tons of experience with SaaS companies, so you can use their provided questions to help you improve your website.
UserTesting helped us see what visitors were doing and why they were doing it.
UserTesting is incredible for qualitative data. You pay real people to visit your site and perform specific actions. You get a video of their experience.
You can imagine the type of insight you gain from these videos.
For us, we saw where people were getting stuck in our setup guide. We changed our setup guide and increased setup conversions by 700% with the feedback we received from users.
Survey tools like SurveyMonkey allow you to gather qualitative data from users.
With surveys from SurveyMonkey and other services, you can ask customers about their experience on your website. Ask them what made them hesitant to buy. Ask if there was any information they wish they had on the site that would have made them purchase sooner. Ask them how they felt when they were on your site the first time.
All this information provides insight that enables you to build a better user experience and gain more conversions.
For example, we used SurveyPlanet to get feedback about the next big feature we should add at ZoomShift. We saved ourselves hundreds of hours of development, by getting validation from our existing customers before we built anything.
Sometimes it’s best to have a real conversation with people.
If you can, meet with potential customers in person. Offer to take them out to lunch. Ask them the questions we’ve been discussing above.
Ask why they did certain things on your site or why they didn’t do certain things. Ask about the emotions they have regarding what your SaaS provides. See if you can figure out any frustrations that aren’t being addressed.
How to Use Qualitative Data with Quantitative Data
We’ve been talking about the benefits of qualitative data, but we don’t want you to think that qualitative data is good and quantitative data is bad.
Both sets of data need each other.
For example, we gained insight using the qualitative methods above and we used quantitative data to verify that the changes were working.
We found that signups wanted to see which step they were on and be guided through the setup process. Based on the qualitative data, we made changes.
Then, with the funnels feature on KISSmetrics, we tracked setup completion conversion numbers.
You can use quantitative data as an alert to a potential issue. Then you can use qualitative data to figure out the reason for the issue.
And you can use quantitative data to verify that changes are working.
The process works best when you use both kinds of data to improve your SaaS conversions.
There is a lot of data that can help you with your conversions. To make the most of this data, you need to have quantitative “numbers” data along with qualitative “feedback” data that gives you insight into why your customers are doing what they’re doing.
With this information, you can make better decisions that lead to more conversion and more sales for your SaaS business. Hopefully, you can increase your conversions by 700% like we did at ZoomShift!
Tell Us What You Think
Have you used qualitative data to improve conversions? We want to hear your stories and experiences! And if you have any questions, please ask. We’ll help out if we can. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author: Jon Hainstock is the co-founder of ZoomShift, which produces employee scheduling software that makes your life easier.