There’s a lot of obsession going on right now over data analysis and analytics.
While that type of feedback and information is really helpful, it ends up overshadowing the really valuable approach of qualitative feedback (the way people describe, react, or feel about something).
Remember: numbers can tell you a lot, but they can’t tell you everything, no matter how many times you check your sites analytics, something we’re guilty of as well :)
Getting that kind of personal feedback from real people can be a true game changer (and the main reason I started UsersThink), but let’s dive into 7 ways qualitative feedback is so awesome.
1. You’ll learn “why”
Let’s say you have a page on your site that has a main goal on it (such as an important conversion landing page).
Users, according to your analytics, are staying on it for a long time. Some users convert, but it seems low to you, and you can’t figure out why.
Are users staying on the page for a long time because it’s such a helpful page, or are they staying on it for a long time because it’s confusing, and they’re trying to figure it out?
So, which is it?
It’s hard to know from quantitative data, and real feedback from real people in the form of qualitative data will help you learn why you’re seeing the data that you’re seeing.
2. Even a tiny sample size brings you value
So let’s say the above example is still true, that for a key page on your site, users are spending a long time on that page, with some converting.
Now let’s say that page gets an initial spike of traffic, then drops off to almost no visitors.
Okay, how would you figure out what works and what doesn’t with that page, now that no one is visiting it?
The great thing about qualitative data and feedback is that you learn so much from even a handful of participants.
You don’t need to wait (or pray) for a great flood of traffic to a problem part of your site, or your new landing page, you can just get that type of in depth feedback from a few people to learn what to change.
This is why so many users of UsersThink have gotten immense value out of even our most basic feedback option: a few people giving you their in depth thoughts goes so much farther than the same raw data of them as users on your site.
3. Uncover problems (and opportunities) that you wouldn’t have known to look for
Traffic, engagement, conversions, all of these forms of quantitative data are helpful in learning when things are going well or not going well.
And if there’s a sudden drop in one of them, that’ll help you know that something isn’t working as well as before, or needs improvement.
But often that won’t tell you what exactly that something is that needs to be improved.
But getting answers to a few open ended questions on the page or site in question, and you’re more likely to discover problems that you didn’t even know were problems.
I’ve had this experience a few times myself (including with UsersThink itself), and while it’s a little disorienting to learn of a new problem, it’s an amazing feeling to then be able to fix it.
Fixing the problem is rarely the challenge. Finding the problem is the hard part, and qualitative feedback helps you in finding the real problems, which you can then turn into amazing opportunities.
4. It’s user empathy on steroids
Your analytics dashboard will show you what’s happening on your site, but it won’t tell you how users feel. If you want to know how users feel, you’ll have to ask them.
User empathy is the end result of understanding qualitative feedback. And what could be more valuable to you than being able to step into your visitors shoes?
Not only will you learn what frustrates and delights your users, but you’ll also learn the type of language they use to describe your site and your services.
Not only will this give you ideas in terms of how to decrease frustration and increase delight, but it’ll help you refine and polish the copy on your websites and landing pages, making everything you talk about more relatable and persuasive.
5. It boosts your intuition on what works and what doesn’t
When you receive qualitative feedback, you get a better idea of how users perceive your value proposition.
You’ll actually develop a feel for how different users will react and respond to certain ideas or changes.
And while you won’t be able to predict 100% of what someone might say, you’ll be more open to finding out, and you’ll find yourself getting to the best possible outcome faster.
6. It’ll help focus your brainstorming into the right areas
Brainstorming can be a great exercise, but it’s easy to cast too wide of a net. Qualitative feedback acts as a great brainstorming trigger, helping you think widely in a focused area.
By learning what the real problems or issues are from the feedback from real people, you’ll be able to brainstorm within those constraints, without having to worry if you’re looking in the right direction.
Qualitative feedback ends up being a brainstorming shortcut that way. It’s by far the best brainstorming hack there is!
And this way you’ll avoid brainstorming and thinking about problems that aren’t real.
7. Settle your in-house debates faster
Ever get caught up with coworkers or advisors over a “must have” feature, idea, or addition to what you’re working on?
And ever have that become heated, only to realize there was no proof for any of the opinions on the table?
So why not test them out on real people? You know, your users?
Sounds obvious, right?
You’d be amazed how many times people get caught up in these types of debates, when learning from real people giving them qualitative feedback would have clarified everything very quickly.
What’s even more amazing about this approach is that even the most heated participants quickly adjust away when they see that they were arguing for the wrong direction, or more common, arguing over something that doesn’t matter.
Settle internal disputes faster with qualitative feedback.
Qualitative + Quantitative = Awesome
While this post has been centered around how awesome qualitative feedback is, the real awesomeness comes from combining both qualitative and quantitative data.
It’s not about choosing one over the other, but marrying the two to get as much insight into your users as possible.
And by using both you’ll be able to more quickly improve and iterate towards success.
But I hope this posts reminds you how valuable qualitative feedback can be in a world that seems to value quantitative data above all else.