It’s true that numbers don’t lie. Although, there are times when we need to look beyond them to interpret what the metrics are really saying. When it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO) this holds true. We’ve explored methods like split or A/B testing to achieve CRO, but again these rely on numerical metrics. Instead, we want to find a method that provides another level of insight. Well as it turns out, qualitative analysis is perfect for doing exactly that.
What is qualitative analysis?
Qualitative analysis refers to a subjective, unquantifiable approach to exploring and interpreting a given scenario. It deals primarily with non-numeric user feedback often coming in the form of the words and actions of the actual user. What do we mean by this? Well, qualitative analysis generally involves asking some questions directly or monitoring their behavior. It provides firsthand insight about a user’s thoughts and actions.
How to conduct qualitative analysis.
Essentially, we describe qualitative analysis as interviewing or monitoring the behavior of a user. With this in mind, you can obtain qualitative research in the following ways.
Interviews: The first option is to go ahead and speak directly with a customer or member of your target audience. Communicating one-on-one with these individuals can provide such valuable information that it should not be overlooked. This gives you a chance to answer questions where the response doesn’t need to be quantifiable. Instead, you can ask for opinions, feedback and insights allowing users to personally explain their experiences.
Focus groups: Much like interviews, but they are done in a group setting. Focus groups are another qualitative analysis tool at your disposal. Again, you have a chance to watch people interact with one another and any items you provide. There is the chance to gather opinions and feedback about all sorts of topics. However, you should be aware of the effects of social influence in group settings.
Usability testing: A third and final option goes by the name of usability testing. A common form of this occurs on websites that test user experiences for other companies. Basically, a company will have a certain objective and will hire a usability company to carry out these tests. Various users are recruited for sessions that are recorded via live screen captures. Some of these even use software that tracks the eye movement of users while they are completing the tasks. This type of testing gives you firsthand insight into what these users actually click on and the processes they go through when completing certain tasks. These sessions include the completion of actual tasks, as well as qualitative feedback opportunities. Sometimes, there will be quantitative aspects as well such as ranking the difficulty of completing a specific task.
Benefits of qualitative analysis.
So we’ve talked about the task of CRO through the means of split testing. But as we know, split testing primarily deals with quantitative analysis by observing and comparing metrics such as click rates, open rates, bounce rates and so on. Basically, quantitative analysis helps you figure out what is happening, while qualitative helps you figure out why it’s happening. After all, you can split test as much as you want, but it will never tell you why users prefer one variation over the other.
While split testing is a great place to start when it comes to CRO, sometimes you need to see more than the numbers. Split testing can be great for tweaking iterations once the main design has been created. However, qualitative analysis helps you to discover your base design in the first place. From there, you can then run split tests on it
There are also cases where no matter how many split tests you conduct, you are seeing negligible improvements between several variations. This is another situation where qualitative analysis can be extremely helpful. Essentially, you will get direct feedback about the overall design and other factors that could be hindering the performance of a website, for example.
The bottom line is that no one method should be used on its own. In this case, split testing and other qualitative techniques can be very complementary.
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