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Choosing the Right Data Type for Marketing Research

As marketers, we are constantly making decisions on ways to enhance our brands and businesses. An important aspect of making a well-thought-out and smart decision is to first consider all of the facts and then, analyze or evaluate all of the data that may impact the outcome of a choice. These actions are just a fancy way of saying marketing research. Marketing research is an essential step to any digital campaign, marketing strategy or business decision. I know you’re probably excited to dip your feet in and start researching, but first, let’s rewind and discuss the basics of marketing research. Understanding which type of marketing research data you will be collecting and analyzing is the first important step to effective research. I know you’re probably thinking: there’s more than one type of marketing research data?! Well, think about it this way: if you’re looking to answer questions like “how many?” or “which one?”, you need quantitative data. If you’re looking to answer questions like “what kind?” or “why?”, you need qualitative data. Let’s dive in…

Quantitative Data. Quantitative data involves numbers, averages or percentages that can be counted and measured. As marketers, you will collect and analyze quantitative data when you need to compare two or more numbers or conduct a statistical analysis. In addition, quantitative data is mainly used to confirm a decision towards the ending stages of research. Quantitative data can be collected using descriptive surveys, experiences and even choice modeling or conjoint analysis. Now, let’s apply this concept. In healthcare, we would use quantitative data during marketing research involving patient demographics. An example of quantitative data in this case would be the average age of males and females who come into our emergency room suffering from cardiac arrest. We would then use this data to recommend a final course of action such what audience to target with an email blast regarding heart health with a call-to-action to make an appointment for a check-up.

Qualitative Data. Qualitative data involves descriptive or conceptual words that help marketers understand the underlying reasons and motivations behind a subject. Qualitative data is often based on words, characteristics or traits. Marketers use qualitative data when they are aiming to explore or make discoveries about a specific purpose, early on in the decision-making process. Qualitative data can be researched by listening and pattern recognition via focus groups, interviews, ethnography and customer visits. In the healthcare industry, we use qualitative data to analyze the behavior, emotions or unstructured reasoning behind our patients’ actions. We want to know what motivates them to choose a specific physician over another or we want to develop an initial understanding of what leads our patients to make the decisions they make.

According to eMarketer’s Adam Kleinberg, “at the end of the day, insight comes from customers, whether you gather information by talking to somebody or observing them or by recognizing a pattern in the spreadsheet. They all have a really important place in helping brands provide value to their customers.” These insights include data. Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative data that you will be collecting, as a marketer, understanding what the initial goal behind the marketing research you conduct is imperative in ensuring your plan has purpose and value.

Did you enjoy this post?  Read about the importance of understanding market share in my last post!

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