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Analysing qualitative data: How to do it & why it matters

In today’s world, data is king, or queen(!). Although quantitative data is extremely important, analysing qualitative data is often the best way to achieve a deeper understanding of consumers and competitors, enabling you to reach smarter conclusions that will contribute to your business’s success.

However, finding actionable insights from unstructured language data can prove challenging. Many organisations remain uninformed on how to analyse qualitative data which is far too often forgotten about. They are failing to cultivate the capabilities and resources needed to analyse the qualitative data which contains valuable business intelligence. This amounts to a huge, missed opportunity for innovation in the era of big data.

But with the right methods and software for analysing qualitative data, you can unlock the full potential of your language data. Here’s the Relative Insight guide to qualitative data analysis which will help you level up your insights game.

Qualitative data vs Quantitative data

As we’ve said, there are two types of data which businesses analyse: qualitative data (scores, metrics, numbers) and quantitative data (words, images, videos).

The problem is that many people only look at quantitative data when they need a quick decision. By focusing merely on numbers and metrics, businesses reduce their potential pool of insights and only see a fraction of the picture.  

On the other hand, qualitative data captures organic discussions and the ideas, thoughts, opinions and values of individuals. Examples of qualitative data include open-ended survey results, online reviews, social media posts, focus group or interview transcripts, live chats and forum data.

While quantitative data tells us what is happening, qualitative data tells us how and why. In terms of market research, the power lies in a combination of the two – a 360-degree approach.

Limitations of qualitative data analysis

We live in the information age, whereby there is more data available than ever before. However, ‘big data’ investments have focused on quantitative data rather than raw, unstructured language data which is notably harder to analyse.

Another limitation of qualitative analysis is that it’s time-consuming. Companies struggle to find efficient ways to analyse large amounts of language data, such as interview transcripts or social insights. As a result, assets are often analysed in a ‘one and done’ fashion, despite there being a wealth of language insights still left to be discovered. But qualitative data is a sea of powerful insights, and it’s of huge strategic value that businesses get on board…

Why is qualitative data analysis important?

Data-driven strategy

Qualitative data analysis enables you to answer important business questions and understand the reason behind numbers, graphs and charts. While interpreting quantitative data is vital in showing what exactly is happening in terms of sales, churn or performance, you can only formulate a robust business strategy by answering the why.

Qualitative data is brimming with real-world audience insights. Take for instance online customer reviews. By tracking what your customers are saying, or how they feel, you can address a whole range of business areas. Insights from qualitative research and subsequent analysis can inform product development, customer service interactions and even brand innovations.

Understand consumer behaviour

Qualitative research helps us to understand the human experience. It’s essential for locating consumer pain points and assessing an audience’s thoughts and opinions. For brands and agencies to understand the motivations of their target audience, analysing qualitative data is an essential step.

Open-ended survey results, customer feedback, social media posts and review data are great sources of consumer insight. By digging deeper into this data, you’ll be able to understand areas where you could improve your service offerings, as well as tracking how your target audience discuss your brand or other relevant topics.

Competitor analysis

Not only does qualitative analysis help you to understand your own consumers, but it can be extremely useful as a means of competitor benchmarking. You can pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and use this to your advantage. Whether that be finding the whitespace to create unique brand positioning or discovering marketing opportunities that you’ve may have missed.

Brand mentions on social media or reviews of competitor brands are invaluable sources of information. Once analysed, you can truly understand what makes your brand or business unique, as well as figuring out where your competitors are doing better than you and ways you can improve.

With qualitative data analysis, you can answer questions like:

  • How are people discussing your brand and/or your competitors?
  • Why do consumers behave in certain ways?
  • How do consumers discuss a topic, product or service?
  • What influences consumers’ purchasing decisions?
  • How does an audience talk – generations, locations, genders?

Software for analysing qualitative data

If you’re looking for a software for analysing qualitative data, look no further. Relative Insight is a text analysis tool which leverages comparison to gain powerful audience insights from your language data.

The beauty of Relative Insight is that you don’t need to kick off a project with a preconceived idea. Our technology overcomes the confirmation bias of hypothesis-driven searching by surfacing relevant discoveries and revealing ‘unknown unknowns’.

Comparative methodology

Relative Insight’s comparative approach to text analytics offers a quick, efficient way of sifting through vast volumes of qualitative data. Our algorithms ‘read’ each data set, providing you with an effective solution to analyse millions of words. Through comparison, Relative Insight’s technology highlights the differences, similarities and frequencies in how audiences, brands and organisations speak across multiple sources. This approach to analysing qualitative data helps to isolate what is different or unique about a data set.

Quantifying qualitative data

We aim to bring a big data-style approach to qualitative data analysis, providing scientific analysis without losing the nuances of language. Our technology is able to quantify qualitative data through the metric Relative Difference – a number which indicates how prevalent a certain word or phrase is in one data set compared to another.

Unlocking the full potential of your data

The platform can also quickly slice and dice your data in multiple ways, enabling you to run multiple comparisons off a single data asset by using various associated details such as age and location. Taking this approach of analysing a single data asset in multiple ways, our clients get up to five times more value from their data when using Relative Insight.

Technology meets human intelligence

The ultimate aim is to optimise the process of qualitative analysis, helping businesses to use their brains faster and more efficiently. However, sophisticated qualitative analysis requires a degree of human involvement.

Words will always be less precise than numbers and for this reason, the best way to analyse qualitative data is at the intersection of the platform’s analysis and your unique understanding of the problem or topic under investigation.

The combination of technology and human intelligence accelerates the analysis process, turning your data into valuable, tangible insights that will propel your client or brand forward. By understanding how an audience talks, companies can better tailor their communications and effectively align their marketing strategy.

Relative Insight is a unique software for analysing qualitative data quickly and at scale, with little manual effort. Through technology, Relative Insight delivers a scientific approach to language that overcomes the confirmation bias of hypothesis-driven searching. Instead, the platform surfaces relevant discoveries and reveals ‘unknown unknowns’.

Speak to our team