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Don't rely on quantitative metrics alone when reviewing marketing performance

Measuring success is a core component of digital marketing, using quantitative metrics to see relative performance of any given campaign. Stats like clickthrough rates (CTR), conversions and bounce rates are all valuable insights that provide concrete and measurable results and can help inform future strategies. 

However, while the numbers are important, it’s unwise to solely rely on them. To do so would be to miss the nuances of the customer relationship, their experience with and perception of your brand, and how it performs offline. 

That’s why we think it’s important to integrate qualitative metrics into any marketing performance review, so you’re able to understand how your audience values your brand. Gathering this information is typically more straightforward than quantitative metrics that you can automatically pull into a dashboard, but investing in them gives you a more holistic view of your business, and can provide you with crucial context into the numbers. 

What can qualitative metrics tell you?

If you think of quantitative data as ‘facts’, then qualitative data is all about ‘feelings’. They are the ‘why’ to qualitative ‘what’ – eg. you’re seeing a 30% increase in traffic from a certain demographic, why is that? What about your product, service, or customer experience is appealing to that subsect? The answer to that question isn’t something you can extract from charts and metrics, it requires actual interaction with your audience to learn more about what they think and feel. 

This information is useful both in evaluating your historic performance as an organisation, but also in providing feedback on areas to improve going forward. If you’re seeing great sales but poor retention, discovering what is deterring customers from coming back can help you make changes to post-sales support and increase satisfaction – and revenue. 

What are some qualitative metrics I could use, and how can I gather them?

Below we’ve pulled together some of the most common qualitative metrics that you might want to dig into, along with some suggestions on how you could gather them. A lot of these are interlinked, and 

Customer satisfaction

As mentioned above, customer satisfaction is a really useful metric to see whether your product or service meets or exceeds customer expectations. It can have an impact on other areas of your business such as customer loyalty, or word-of-mouth marketing, so it’s something to really nail. 

You can gather customer feedback through surveys and feedback forms that use open-ended questions, inviting customers to email or DM on with their thoughts, or even running focus groups and customer interviews. 

Customer loyalty

Going hand-in-hand with customer satisfaction, customer loyalty is the measure of how committed a customer is to your brand, and whether they make repeated purchases or refer you to people. This can be tracked quantitatively through your CRM and sales data, but also by inviting customers – both repeat and one-off – to give feedback as to why they are/aren’t loyal customers can allow you to identify why you’re viewed so positively, or what you can do to improve your service. 

User Experience (UX)

This is the measure of a user’s experience interacting with your website or app. It looks holistically at usability, functionality, discoverability and design. As with a lot of these, UX can be measured to a certain extent through numbers alone. For instance, if people are landing on your website but exiting before they’ve made a transaction, or if your customer service team are receiving a lot of enquiries about information that is on your website, that might suggest that you have an issue with your user journey, or with information discoverability. 

That is a rational assumption to make, but you can test that qualitatively by conducting user testing – inviting people in to interact with your website and observing what they do. Through the use of heatmaps to see where they click, and interviews to see what they struggled with, you can get valuable feedback on improvements to your customer journey. 

Emotional connection

This is perhaps the most challenging to quantify, as it is wholly about feelings. How does a customer feel about a product? Do you elicit joy or resignation when they interact with your business? Customers with a strong (positive) emotional connection are more likely to become brand advocates and have higher levels of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 

Surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups can be a great way to uncover how people feel about your brand, why they feel that way, and the impact it has on their purchasing decisions. 

When to use qualitative metrics?

Given the time it can take to compile qualitative data, it’s unlikely you’ll be engaged in continuous gathering. Instead, it’s useful to use qualitative metrics to supplement quantitative data, or to dig deeper into a working hypothesis. 

You might, for example, consider using some qualitative research at the end of a particular campaign to see how it has impacted customer perceptions of your brand. Or you might implement some user experience testing before undergoing any web redevelopment. You might also want to deploy it if you notice a sudden change in user behaviour or engagement. 

Remember, qualitative and quantitative are two sides of the same coin, and while individually they can tell you a lot about how your business is performing, it’s when they’re used in conjunction that the real magic happens. Being intentional about the data you collect, and working to get secure contextual grounding for it, ensures your business is well equipped to take on any marketing challenge. 

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