By Tamara Irminger Underwood
Every time we click, tap, and swipe, we generate copious amounts of data. Marketing teams are constantly trying to interpret and make sense of all this information. While having so much data on consumer engagement might seem like a good thing, there are pitfalls that we see marketing teams make when it comes to consumer data. First, much of the data generated is noisy and without qualitative research, is often meaningless. Second, it’s easy to misinterpret data and miss the mark as to what consumers are really thinking and feeling.
In a recent Marketing report released by Salesforce, it states that marketers are expecting a 40% increase in the number of data sources they use between 2021 and 2022. Without qualitative research to help make sense of all this data, marketing teams are likely to be overwhelmed and create campaigns that are off target.
Qualitative Research Cuts Through Data Noise
Don’t get us wrong: having copious amounts of data is a great starting point, but that’s all it is. To make your data meaningful so that it can guide strategic planning or help with developing effective marketing campaigns, you’ll need to drill down to learn more about why and how people think and behave the way they do. This is where qualitative research comes into play.
Qualitative research has its roots in acadamia, and the social sciences in particular. While the study objectives may differ between an academic or professional study, many of the methodologies remain the same. For any qualitative study we design, we often include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic research. The common denominator between methodologies, is they all reveal the motivations, values, opinions, and reasons behind decision making.
When creating a qualitative study for a client, we first seek to understand what information they are looking for from the data. It could be anything from sentiment analysis; to better understanding purchasing decisions; to investigating a current, or proposed, service, product, or brand position. Once we have the objective, our next step is to create a study that personalizes and clarifies data.
Marketing Strategies are Quickly Evolving
The Salesforce marketing report, mentioned above, is dense with insights about the changing landscape for marketing teams. The report highlights how quickly and how much the landscape is changing, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the top challenges for marketing teams that were mentioned in the report include: real-time customer engagement, creating a cohesive customer journey across devices and channels, and insufficient organizational processes and structures. The good news for marketing teams is that qualitative market research can address many of the listed challenges and help guide companies.