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Quantitative research in marketing – investment or waste of time?

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Your adventure with marketing research should begin with defining the research problem and setting goals. The next step is to prepare a research plan and decide on the method of obtaining information.

What characterizes quantitative research in marketing? What questions will your brand answer? Which method to choose? Is it profitable to invest your time and money in them? You can find useful tips in the article.

Define the research problem and set goals

Marketing research is divided into qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research refers to deep motivations and reflections, allows you to find answers to the questions: “how?”, “Why?”, “Why?”. They are usually conducted on a small research sample and provide the possibility of generalizing insights into a specific population. On the other hand, quantitative research helps to answer the questions: “how much?”, “How long?”, “How often?” and are used to collect numerical data.

The key difference between these types of research is that quantitative research allows marketers to describe a problem numerically, such as with a table or graph. Qualitative research helps to understand the phenomenon better.  

After defining the research problem, the aim of the research should be established. The next step is to prepare a research plan and decide on the method of obtaining information. The choice of a research method should ensure the achievement of goals and take into account the constraints and business aspects, budget, and schedule.

Two main methods of obtaining data

While there is more than one breakdown of quantitative data collection methods in marketing, the distinction between surveys and interviews prevails in both the literature and university programs.

One of the main differences between them concerns the roles of the researcher and the subject. In the case of a survey, the respondent answers the questions on the form independently. In contrast, during the interview, someone who conducts the survey can interact more with the respondent.

Your adventure with marketing research should begin with defining the research problem and setting goals.

Survey – what must not be forgotten?

The survey formula assumes the inability to interfere in providing answers by customers, potential customers, or people from the surveyed group. Therefore, it is worth taking care of instructions and a clear way of formulating questions – so that the respondents fill in the form without unnecessary frustration.

It is also worth considering the number and level of complexity of the questions; consider the number of questions discouraging? Is the level of tasks objectively easy? The more complex the questions, the more likely the respondent will be discouraged while answering or without the interviewer’s help, who is often absent during the survey, will not be able to complete the survey, will not click send, and will resign.

An important element in the process of preparing questionnaires is taking care of their visual aspect.

A printed or e-mailed survey is sometimes the first form of contact between a person and a brand. So it gives us a chance that we will be remembered as someone special, worthy of attention, and caring for details. It is also an opportunity to make a good impression, instead of just one of the hundreds of black and white surveys that bombard us from many sides.

Types of research surveys

Postal survey

In times of being constantly online, this type of survey may seem obsolete, and yet some prefer the analog world to live in the digital world, which is why they are more likely to fill in the questionnaire on paper than in a file or on a website. The postal survey, like any other method, has its advantages and disadvantages. But… it may be the only way to reach the part of the silver generation group that celebrates freedom from the Internet.

The process of preparing such a survey begins with drawing up a form containing research questions and instructions for completing them and a place for answers. The completed form is sent to respondents by post, along with the so-called cover letter, which describes the objectives of the research being carried out and information about its contractor, and words encouraging them to participate. The letter should also clearly state the confidentiality and anonymity of the survey results.

The procedure for conducting the survey usually includes resending the form and letter to respondents who did not return their forms within the prescribed period. You can also ask them to do so by text, e-mail, or call – depending on the possibility. However, it is worth knowing that, according to the experience of practicing researchers, insistent attempts to obtain answers are not successful and do not significantly increase the implementation rate. Such practices often irritate the respondents and may discourage them from further or possible steps in your company’s customer journey.

If you choose this type of survey, also take into account the fact that the research company has a limited influence on controlling the respondents, and the researcher will not be 100% sure whether the answer was given by Hania from Rzeszów, whether her grandson or husband did it for her. Such and similar situations may cause the size and structure of the research sample to differ from the initial assumptions.

Auditorium survey

Another research opportunity is the organization of an auditorium survey. The condition for using this method is the possibility of gathering the surveyed respondents in a specific place and time. These can be, for example, employees gathered in the auditorium of your company or students during a lecture.

The survey is based on the fact that the questionnaire is distributed to respondents who have a certain time to complete it. Compared to the above-described method, such a survey will help us avoid the difficulties associated with sending the forms, uncertainty whether they will be returned, and the need to urge respondents, thus exposing ourselves to their resentment and frustration. Therefore, the auditorium survey provides a much higher level of implementation.

Although the researcher during the auditorium survey has mainly an organizational function, he can answer the doubts of the respondents and explain incomprehensible issues.

Internet survey

We usually place the form on a specially created website. Internet Surveys (Computer-Assisted Web Interviewing) are distinguished because the research measurement is supported by appropriate software and hardware.

On the one hand, the CAWI research is quick to implement and low cost (among others because it does not require the involvement of the interviewer network); on the other hand, however, if we want to be sure of representativeness in terms of basic demographic characteristics (gender, age, etc.), it is better to choose another method. One that will give the respondents more certainty that these features will be preserved.

Online surveys are ideal for researching people who use the Internet intensively and like news and new applications. This is a nice way to test the reception of new functionalities, for example, on the websites of online banks. Such a survey is also a good patent for checking how employees are doing in the company – thanks to it, it is possible to organize a repeated job satisfaction survey. Online surveys are also used by brands that want to control user satisfaction with mobile applications when they undergo a process of improvement.

Interview

When an interview turns out to be the best way to conduct the research, it is worth remembering that its essence is the need to establish interaction between the subject and the researcher.

Interview in quantitative research is a form of intentionally arranged, a standardized conversation between the respondent and the interviewer.

What is standardization? Thanks to it, each interviewer researches according to the same, previously strictly defined rules. This means the standardization of research procedures could affect the quality of the responses obtained during the research. It covers, among other things, the content, sequence, and style of asking individual questions. The instructions and the form of recruitment of respondents are also harmonized, as well as the places of conducting the interviews and answering individual questions. There is no place here for the creativity or creative inventions of researchers. A well-conducted standardization affects the correct course of the study and its effects. It also controls the research situation and reduces the risk of errors that may distort the results.

An interview is a fairly broad category that includes many methodological solutions, three of them deserve attention:

  • direct individual questionnaire interview (Paper & Pen Personal Interwiev – PAPI),
  • Direct interview individual computer-aided (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview – CAPI)
  • individual computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI).

Their common denominator obtains information from respondents using standardized research tools in an interview conducted by the interviewer. However, individual approaches differ significantly from each other, and it is necessary to know these differences before choosing a research method.

Types of interviews

PAPI – direct individual questionnaire interview

This is one of the most popular methods of collecting quantitative data in marketing research in the International SEO Agency. The main element of the research tool on which this method is based is a printed interview questionnaire, consisting of research questions, places to mark answers, and additional explanations for both the interviewer and the respondent. Only the interviewer must complete the interview questionnaire. If the question is open-ended, the interviewee may be asked to provide a spontaneous answer or select more answers from previously prepared options.

After the research, the questionnaires are usually sent to the research institute. The information contained in the paper questionnaires is converted into an electronic form, which facilitates the statistical analysis and preparation of the research report. After entering the data and checking the results of the reliability checks of the conducted interviews, the conclusion stage can begin.

CAPI – direct individual interview with computer support

An individual interview with computer support requires direct contact between the respondent and the interviewer. However, this time the interviewer uses, for example, a tablet or a laptop with questions on it instead of a printed questionnaire.

After hearing the respondent’s answers, the interviewer saves them in electronic form on the tablet. In every place with coverage, the researcher can connect to the central system managing the CAPI application, which is usually located on the server of the research institute. In this way, programs containing the research tool were previously delivered to the interviewers’ computers. Interviewers can also send completed interviews on an ongoing basis, enabling constant control of the state of research at every stage.

When using this tool, you may be exposed to the “priority effect,” i.e., selecting answers placed at the beginning of a long list. Variants placed further down the list have fewer chances, even though they may be closer to the respondents. One way to reduce this effect is to rotate the responses – the program randomly arranges their order.

A computer-assisted interview allows the respondents to show the respondents fragments of advertisements, graphics, music – depending on the needs. Increasingly, in this type of assisted interview, special software modules help examine respondents’ price sensitivity or test reactions to new packaging ideas.

CATI – individual computer-assisted telephone interview

In the case of this method, the interviewer and the respondent have contact by phone. Research institutes conducting this type of research have special ICT infrastructures. Interviewers call from the studio, where there are professionally prepared and equipped stations. Computers form an IT network that is managed by people coordinating the work of the CATI studio. Thanks to the program, it is possible to dial the numbers that interviewers connect to automatically, and the selection of numbers may be based on a random algorithm. The program can also use databases received from the client.

The questions asked by the interviewer are displayed on the computer screen. The program also enables quick input of respondents’ answers and also exercises logical control over the consistency of the information obtained.

CATI also allows respondents to complete a questionnaire on their own or to answer questions asked by phone. One of the key elements in this method is ensuring the communication skills of telephone consultants – interviewers. Tele-surveys can be really annoying, and people are reluctant to participate in them, so the caller should have delightfully high communication skills and a positive attitude that can be heard in the voice in the first seconds of the conversation.

9 criteria for selecting a research method

The advantage of dividing quantitative research in marketing into surveys and interviews is that the main difference can be seen at first glance – the survey involves the respondent having to fill in the form on his own. In contrast, there are direct (face-to-face) or indirect (telephone ) interactions between the test subject and the researcher in the interview.

How well to choose a method? People involved in scientific research suggest adopting 9 detailed criteria. These are:

  1. Assumed number of research questions – it is worth bearing in mind that methods based on full interaction between the interviewer and the respondent allow for longer interviews than methods with less or no interaction. Most often it is assumed that face-to-face interviews can last up to 45-60 minutes, and in special situations even longer. During the interview, the interviewer has a chance to influence the respondent’s commitment and his readiness to continue the survey. In the case of telephone surveys, the time limit for one interview is 20 minutes.
  2. Difficulty level of research questions – the least difficult for the respondents are closed questions with a short list of possible answers (a cafeteria containing 5-7 variants). The higher the level of difficulty of the questions, the more often you should choose research methods that are characterized by full interaction between the respondent and the respondent.
  3. The degree of availability of respondents – when deciding on a specific research method, its effectiveness in reaching respondents should be taken into account. For example – internet research is a good solution when the representatives of the research sample are mainly young people who live in large cities.
  4. The degree of control of the structure of the research sample  – during the interviews, the researcher has a good chance of controlling the group, while in the case of questionnaires sent by post, the control possibilities are limited.
  5. Possibility of using multimedia materials – in order to achieve the assumed research goals, sometimes during the research it is necessary to familiarize the respondent with multimedia materials. These can be, for example, files containing advertising spots or the visualization of outdoor advertising or logos. In such a situation, it is necessary to choose computer-assisted methods.
  6. The degree of control of the research situation – most of the surveys (the exception is the auditorium survey) do not allow too much control of the respondents.
  7. Respondent’s degree of anonymity – the problem of the respondent’s lack of a sense of anonymity usually occurs in research conducted using the direct interview method (PAPI, CAPI). It also applies to telephone surveys to a moderate extent.
  8. The duration of the research project – the most time is the projects carried out with the method of face-to-face interviews, while individual computer-assisted interviews are usually shorter. A survey based on internet surveys is definitely the fastest.
  9. Research costs – questionnaire research, especially online questionnaires, is the least expensive. “Field” research is associated with a greater financial investment.

Marketing quantitative research – advantages and disadvantages

Conducting quantitative research is relatively cheap and easy to prepare. Thanks to the (described above) standardization, they make it possible to obtain consistent data, and their form eliminates the subjectivism of researchers. Among the disadvantages, we can certainly distinguish difficulties in encouraging respondents to participate in the survey, limiting the possibility of free expression (the language and style of answers are imposed in advance). In the case of the online form, technical challenges may arise.

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Thanks to quantitative research, we have a chance to obtain (among others) the following information:

  • How often does a given phenomenon occur in a given population?
  • what is the market share of the product?
  • how many people recognize a given brand?
  • how is your product perceived by a specific group of people?

Pop-ups on websites asking for an opinion or telephone interviewers more and more often cause more anger than mobilization to participate in research, so it is worth thinking about additional motivation and, for example, people willing to offer a nice gift or a discount really pays off.

5 facts to keep in mind

  • Quantitative research usually helps to answer the question: “how much?” and are carried out on large, representative research groups.
  • The two main methods of quantitative research are survey and interview.
  • Before choosing a research method, it is necessary to contribute to defining the research problem and setting the research goals.
  • This article is a substitute for knowledge about quantitative research. It is worth referring to sample research results, scientific articles, as well as going online or to the library to choose literature that will help prepare for conducting your research. It is worth looking for various inspirations.
  • Analysts emphasize that the era of Big Data has arrived, so it pays to appreciate the value of numerical data and invest in research that will help assess the legitimacy and effectiveness of projects, products and services.

Miller’s number and UX

According to Miller, the number 7 (or 5 or 9) represents the amount of information that the human brain can absorb and remember at any one time. According to this theory, the absolute score and short-term memory are limited to an average of 7 fragments.

Almost every person in the marketing industry knows or at least knows what UX, or User Experience, is. All activities undertaken by UX designers are aimed at creating the best user experience. However, the perception of content is influenced by many factors related to human psychology. One of such factors, which has recently become more and more popular when it comes to creating UX, is “Miller’s magic number

Seven plus or minus two

George A. Miller, in 1956 published his research in the Psychological Review in an essay entitled “The Magic Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two.” According to Miller, it is 7 (or 5 or 9) that determines the amount of information that the human brain can absorb and remember at any one time. According to this theory, the absolute score and short-term memory are limited to an average of 7 fragments. What are these passages? Our brain has learned to group the information provided to it, and the operation of this process can be presented through this example: try to remember these numbers 1 2 5 6 8 9 3 4 0. After only reading it once, you may have a problem with it, but if I present the same numbers in a slightly different way, 12 56 89 34 0, remembering them turns out to be much easier. Why? Because they have been visually grouped, so from nine numbers, we have obtained five fragments, which is as much as, according to Miller, we cannot accept minimally. 

The influence of Miller’s number on UX

The user visiting the online store website expects that everything he is looking for will be in visible places, that the appearance of the website itself will be visually aesthetic, and that navigating the website and the subsequent stages of the shopping path will be easy and pleasant. Utopia? Why do UX designers work hard every day to turn this vision into reality?

All methods used by UX specialists, regardless of whether it is a USP (unique selling proposition) or a page menu layout, are accompanied by a Miller number. In principle, then, a user is usually given no more than nine groups, categories, and then no more than nine subgroups or sub-categories, etc. So how much information we convey to the recipient directly depends on how we do it. If we present him with one general and somewhat lengthy content, it may turn out to be too much for him. However, when the same content is divided into 7 ± 2 fragments, there is a much greater probability that the user will understand our message and remember it.

Application of Miller’s number in UX

Let’s start with the most common example that is known to everyone. You probably know how the payment card number is written on it. Sixteen digits, written in one sequence, would be almost impossible to copy, for example, when shopping online, not to mention remembering them. That is why those who designed the card’s appearance turned to the users and applied Miller’s Law, dividing these sixteen digits into four groups of four. This undoubtedly made it easier to enter and copy the number correctly. A very similar situation can also be observed in the bank account number; not without reason, there are gaps every four digits. So simple yet so effective.

Another example of following the Miller number order in creating your UX would be the Spotify app home page layout. It’s no surprise that one of the leaders in its industry cares about every little detail so that users experience the best UX quality while using it. Therefore, in the Home tab, the suggestions of songs, artists, or playlists presented to users are presented in several categories, arranged in several rows. This certainly gives a much clearer picture than, for example, a list of dozens of proposals side by side.

summary

  • UX, i.e. User Experience, defines the user experience related to the use of the website, application, product, etc.
  • UX designers often have to start their activities with, for example, social research or surveys, in order to better understand the future recipient.
  • Miller’s law is based on the “magic number seven” presented by him, which specifies the value 7 ± 2.
  • According to G. Miller, in short-term (working) memory a person is able to store from five to nine elements that are forgotten after a maximum of a minute.
  • The so-called chunking, or portioning. This procedure is used, among others, on payment cards, where their number is given in four fragments, instead of one long string of digits.
  • Organization of information should follow the LATCH principle, i.e. location, alphabet, time, category and hierarchy.
  • Negative UX may result from, among other things, inconsistency in the project, information overload or incorrect presentation.
  • Cognitive errors are irrational behaviors, reactions resulting from perceiving reality in an unreal way.
  • Cognitive errors include, among others, the isolation effect, in which the most exposed product, in the perception of the user, seems to be both the best and the best.

Summary

While this magic Miller number has been around for many years, it still finds new uses. Especially in the marketing industry, which is extremely volatile because it is growing at a dizzying pace. Almost every day, marketing, SEO, and sales activities must be improved to best match the market requirements and consumer expectations.

By applying the assumptions of Miller’s law, UX designers can offer users the most valuable content experiences. Clients can then fully focus on the message and easily assimilate it.

Customer-driven activities are not those aimed solely at finalizing the transaction but those that put the consumer at the center. He is the most important, and the brand cares about building a relationship more than even making a purchase. Such perception and treatment of the client make them willing to return to the brand, have sentiment towards it, and, if necessary, defend it.

Creating a loyal group of brand believers results in increased sales, attracting new, curious customers, and building awareness and recognition. However, it is worth remembering that everything starts with the content and User Experience, so you should not neglect these elements, and following the magic seven plus minus two will certainly make it easier to refine them..”


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