Imagine walking into and out of a supermarket. If you did not purchase anything then the supermarket managers probably don't even know you were there. If you purchased something, the supermarket knows something was sold (they know a bit more if you use a membership card).
Visiting a website, you leave behind a significant amount of data, whether you buy something or not. The website knows every "aisle" you walked down, everything you touched and everything you put in your cart and then discarded. If you buy, the site manager knows where you live, where you came to the website from, which promotion you are responding to, how many times you have bought before and so on. If you simply visited and left the website, it still knows everything you did and in the exact order you did it in.
Add to this the fact that now there is a massive proliferation of tools that will instantly create reports presenting data in every conceivable slice, graph, table, pivot or dump that you can imagine the challenge.
But, no matter what tool you use, the best that all this data will help you understand is What happened. It cannot, no matter how much you torture the data, tell you Why something happened. This is the reason qualitative data is so hyper important. It is the difference between 99% of the website analysis that happens that yields very little insights and the 1% that provides a window into the mind of a customer.
Combining the What (quantitative) with the Why (qualitative) will provide a company with a long term strategic competitive advantage.
There are many types of qualitative data at your disposal including brand buzz, customer satisfaction, net promoter indices, visitor engagement, stickiness, blog-pulse, etc.
While there are many options for qualitative analysis, perhaps the most important qualitative data point is how Customers/Visitors interact with your â€œweb presence.â€? Visitor interaction can lead to actionable insights faster while having a richer impact on your decision making. There is a lot of "buzz" around "buzzy" metrics such as brand value / brand impact, blog-pulse, to name a couple. IMHO these "buzzy" metrics might be a sub optimal use of time/resources if we don't first have a hard core understanding of customer satisfaction and task completion on our websites.
There are many different methodologies to collect Customer qualitative data, including:
- Lab Usability Testing (inviting participants to complete tasks, guided or unguided)
- Follow Me Homes (observing in a customer's "native" environment)
- Experimentation/Testing (the latest new and cool thing to do, a/b or multivariate)
- Surveying (the grand daddy of them all)
If you are new to this world the last one is a great way to step into this new world and unlike what you might have heard it is both easy to implement, can be a continuous methodology, highly quantitative and is most often chock full of insights that will lend themselves to be very action oriented.
In future posts I hope to dive deeper into options, best practices and examples.
Agree? Disagree? Please share your feedback via comments.