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When to Use Qualitative and When to Use Quantitative Analytics

Qualitative and quantitative analytics are two essentials to understanding online marketing. From startups to mid-size companies, analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data before making decisions is crucial to growing your business.

Before we get started, how are qualitative and quantitative analytics different? Here’s a low down on both:

Quantitative analytics — this means looking at actual numbers. Use this to get hard data on how people actually behave.

Qualitative analytics — this usually means looking at the intangibles. This is far more subjective and you use this to understand why people behave a certain way.

When you’re stuck, figure out which side you’re on (how people behave or why) and use that type of data.

3 Cases for Qualitative Analytics

So when would you use qualitative analytics? While there are many examples when you would, here are three use cases:

1) Finding out why a customer decided to do business with you

Understanding what prompted a customer to choose your business over a competitor’s will help you pinpoint what your competitive advantage is and how to sell your product or service. Qualitative analytics can come in handy in this case: ask questions like ‘Why did you sign up?’ and ‘Why did you visit ____ page?’ in order to collect data that will help you. Make sure you word the question so it’s open-ended and can generate more authentic responses from customers.

learning why a customer bought from you survey

2) Finding out what customer’s perception of your value proposition is

Sometimes you think you know what value your product or service gives to customers. But once you ask customers what value they think you provide, you might be surprised to hear their responses. This can change the way you package your service or how you sell your product.

learn what people love survey

3) Fishing for copy language

The language your customers use is really golden. When you’re looking for best ways to write your pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy, you’ll want to first understand how customers write about your product or service. You can use your customer’s own words in your ad copy!

3 Cases for Quantitative Analytics

So when would you use quantitative analytics?

1) Understanding how customers are using the product

You can use quantitative analytics to understand how customers use your product or service. This will give you data points that back up what value you think you give to customers based on what features they use most often. You can find out not just who the habitual users are, but how often they use certain features and which features they use.

identifying habitual users people search kissmetrics

feature utilization

2) Basic traffic reporting

You can find out where most of your website traffic is coming from by using quantitative analytics. Through Google Analytics, you can figure out where the organic search requests come from and which specific media channels are bringing in the most people.

channels that bring customers

3) Conversion funnel

Use quantitative analytics when you’re trying to identify where customers abandon your conversion funnel. You can use this data to create a strategy to improve certain steps of the funnel so you can increase the overall conversion rate.

funnel report kissmetrics

Useful Tools for Qualitative and Quantitative Analytics

Now that you know how qualitative and quantitative analytics are different, here are some tools you can use to get started:

  • Qualaroo – reveals the why, not just the what or how. Learn why visitors did certain actions on the pages of your websites. You can survey desktop or mobile visitors and ask specific questions during their experience.
  • Kissmetrics – gives you deep customer knowledge by connecting all of your data to real people. Identify exactly who’s in each step of your funnel so you can reach out to them in a more meaningful way.
  • Typeform – humanizes online surveys with a fun interactive way to ask and answer questions. Use this to gain insights with integrated analysis tools and reveal hidden trends and patterns.
  • Google Analytics – provides key quantitative insights such as website traffic, traffic sources, conversions, etc.
  • Crazy Egg – shows you how visitors are behaving on your website: where they’re clicking, where they stop reading or watching, how different segments of traffic behave differently and more.
  • SurveyMonkey – can help you gather qualitative data from users.. You can ask customers about their experience on the website, what made them hesitate to buy, etc.
  • YesInsights – Gather actionable feedback from your customers with one-click survey that are embedded in your emails. Attach surveys to your drip email campaigns for a steady stream of qualitative insights.

For more information on using qualitative and quantitative analytics to grow your business, check out this webinar with Kissmetrics Co-Founder Hiten Shah and Qualaroo CEO Sean Ellis:

view the webinar

  1. Can both be combined to get something more beneficial? So as to reap high benefits?

    • Hi Aziz! Both can be combined and most often are combined. You just need to make sure that you’re clear on what you’re testing for and whether you need both for what you’re trying to test or analyze.

  2. Jeremy Norton Oct 11, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Great post! It is great information. This is the most effective way to learn and know when to use qualitative and quantitative analytics. This tips and ideas are very helpful and useful. I love the presentation and it’s not boring to read. I will definitely share this article to my friends. I learned a lot and many great insights here. Thanks for sharing this article.

  3. Should also mention that qualitative can be converted to quantitative data through thematic analysis and coding. For the love of god make sure your qualitative questions are attached to descriptors, had to to explain this when looking through some survey responses for program evaluations.

    dedoose is pretty cheap and easy for mixed-methods approach.

  4. At Netflix, at least in marketing, we used both approaches. We used in-person qual to get directional feedback on concepts and competition and to make sure nothing was flat-out wrong. We also used cancel and member surveys. We used quant for a/b test everything under the sun (including the concepts researched during the in-person phase). The key to qual is to make sure you have a great moderator who understands how to ask the right questions and gets respondent to ladder or write the questions correctly so that you get maximum value from the feedback.

  5. Great insight, My favorite qualitative research are usability studies and interviews. Largely because these are the areas I have the most experience with. . I have been a part of several surveys that were set up with open-ended questions in order to create themes, becoming qualitative data through quantitative methods. Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Great article! Another tool you might consider for qualitative analytics is Appsee (www.appsee.com). They provide user session recordings and touch heatmaps to show how users are interacting within the app.

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