Qualitative vs. quantitative data: what's the difference?
Qualitative and quantitative research go hand in hand. But we often find cases where marketers struggle to choose between qualitative and quantitative research. This is because many of us can’t explain the difference between qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative and qualitative analysis are complementary methods that can be combined in surveys to provide comprehensive results. Simply put, quantitative data gives you numbers to back up the general points of your research. Qualitative data provide details for a deep understanding of their full implications.
To understand what qualitative research and quantitative research is and diff between quantitative and qualitative research, you should read this article to the end.
What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research is a research strategy that focuses on describing an observation or data. It is conducted based on first-hand data collected through focus groups, open-ended customer surveys, questionnaires, etc.
Qualitative research is conducted to understand the causes of certain behaviors, opinions, attributes and experiences of consumers. As a rule, qualitative analysis answers the question “why”.
What is qualitative data?
Qualitative data is a type of data that describes characteristics and qualities, or any information as such. Examples include data such as gender (male or female), skin color, demographics, etc.
Qualitative data provide descriptive information rather than measurement information. It can be impressions, opinions or views of people. A qualitative survey is less structured – it aims to deeply analyze the topic under consideration in order to obtain information about people’s motivation, their views and attitudes. Such a survey, on the one hand, provides a depth of understanding of the research questions, and on the other hand, complicates the analysis of the results.
What is quantitative research?
Quantification is a research strategy that focuses on the quantification of an observation or data. It is conducted on the basis of data collected through various forms of surveys with closed questions, face-to-face interviews, surveys, etc. Quantitative research is carried out to develop theories, statistical models, hypotheses, etc. Generally, answers to quantitative analysis such questions like “how much” and “how often”.
What is Quantitative Data?
Quantitative data is nothing but any numerical data. Quantitative data are bare facts – numbers. Quantitative data is structured and statistically processed. They help draw general conclusions from the study. Examples include data like 150 people downloaded your free eBook, 50 respondents didn’t like a new feature in your app, etc.
What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative research?
To differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research you should know that quantitative data can be measured in numbers. In this way, an objective and convincing result can be obtained. On the other hand, qualitative data cannot be measured by numbers. It is descriptive and therefore you cannot get an objective result. Rather, it gives you a subjective approach to problem solving and often sets the stage for quantitative analysis.
What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative analysis
Both qualitative and quantitative analysis are research methods. The difference lies in the way research and analysis is conducted. Let’s try to understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research using this example.
Let’s say you have an e-commerce website and you want to improve your conversions. To do this, you will need to conduct both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Quantitative analysis will give you numbers to identify product pages that need to be optimized. You can extract quantitative data such as bounce rate, abandoned carts, page load speed, etc. from Google Analytics. You can then categorize and analyze this data to identify pages that need attention.
Now, how can you optimize these pages to increase conversions? Well, you can get hundreds of general conversion rate improvement tips online. But it may or may not work. Every business has its own challenges, so you need to figure out why your customers are leaving and work specifically on those areas. This is where qualitative analysis comes in.
What are the benefits of quantitative research?
- Quantitative analysis allows you to work with a larger sample. And when you can analyze large datasets, your chances of coming to an accurate conclusion increase exponentially.
- Quantitative research allows you to quickly collect data. You can use an interactive content creation tool such as Outgrow to create interactive surveys and automate the data collection process. It helps you to conduct thousands of surveys all over the world at the same time.
- Data privacy is also a big advantage of quantitative research. Especially for sensitive topics, users can participate in self-completion surveys. This helps them remain anonymous.
- Profitability. The cost of conducting quantitative research is much less than that of qualitative research. To create quantitative surveys, you just need to subscribe to the survey builder. And once you’ve created a survey, you can send it out to thousands of people at the same time. You can check out the pricing for this free online survey maker to get an idea of the cost.
What are the benefits of qualitative data vs quantitative?
- Qualitative surveys provide depth and context. Generally, qualitative survey questions are open-ended and give the respondent the freedom to express their thoughts. This helps to gather contextual information about specific quantitative datasets.
For example, you are doing a quantitative survey asking your customers to rate your product, and 80% of the respondents give you a bad rating. But this poll won’t tell you why! To understand this, you can take a qualitative survey by asking questions such as “what can we do to improve our product?”, “What features do you expect from our product?” Etc.
- New thematic areas. Open-ended questions trigger the thought process of our audience. You may come across innovative suggestions from your respondents to improve your product. And this increases the opportunity to discover new thematic areas and solutions that you may not have thought about before.
- Qualitative research provides flexibility. Unlike quantitative surveys, which are rigidly structured, qualitative surveys give the surveyor free rein to follow up on any response they think might provide more information. Depending on the nature and quality of the responses, surveyors can quickly change their questions to better understand their clients.
How to balance qualitative and quantitative research
These two research methods do not contradict each other. In fact, they work much better together. In the world of Big Data, there is a lot of statistical information and figures that form a solid basis for your decisions. But basic data is incomplete without information from real people that gives meaning to the numbers. So how do you combine these two forms of research? Qualitative research is almost always the starting point when it comes to discovering new problems and opportunities for improvement – this will help you do more in-depth research later. Quantitative data allows you to confirm and understand each problem or improvement opportunity.
Now that we’ve covered everything about what are the differences between quantitative and qualitative research, here’s a quick summary. Quantitative and qualitative research are complementary. Quantitative studies show us numbers and facts about what happened. Whereas qualitative research helps us get context on quantitative data. In other words, qualitative research explains “why” something happened. So, we need both qualitative and quantitative studies to arrive at a full evidence-based conclusion and solution. The ideal way is to start with a quantitative study. And one of the best ways to do quantitative research is through interactive surveys.