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How to Turn Qualitative Digital Marketing Observations into Quantitative Data

Slava Vidomanets

Since the “Golden Age” of advertising and marketing (think Mad Men), a lot has changed. Advertising and marketing are no longer purely focused on creativity and ingenuity in reaching your audience.

Today’s market is saturated with people and messages, leading to an acute need for more direction than just a dream and a sheet of paper. Every day, we’re challenged to make meaningful observations and turn those observations into something tangible.

In the 21st century’s lightning-fast digital environment, marketing and advertising have become increasingly scientific. It’s not just about the thrill of the chase anymore. It truly is a numbers game.

So the more effectively we can turn our quantitative observations in qualitative data, the more smoothly and effectively we can plan, monitor and adjust our efforts. But how exactly do we turn these abstract observations into hard numbers, and how can we use these numbers to better ourselves as marketers?

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data

In the digital marketing realm, qualitative data and quantitative data play distinct roles. They’re both valuable, as they both provide needed insight into how we’re performing and how we can perform better.

Essentially, quantitative data provides us with what our audiences are doing. Qualitative data helps to explain why, giving us the opportunity to approach information formulaically and without dispute.

Step 1: Identify Your Specific Goals

Your technique for assigning quantitative values to your qualitative data will depend on what you’re working with and what you’re trying to accomplish. For this scenario, let’s say you’re looking to analyze your performance on social media, with the end goal of figuring out which posts have elicited the most positive emotional response from your audience.

We know that emotion is a key driving force in consumer behavior. So you can use this data to hone your messages and pull just the right heart string you need to keep your strategy effective and pertinent to your brand.

Step 2: Assign Everything a Number

We can’t have quantitative data without numbers, right? Sure, your social media posts have likes, shares, and comments. These are all quantifiable and great for seeing the activity you’re getting. But how to gauge emotional responses?

Take a look at your comments. Create a rating scale for emotional responses and categorize the content of each comment into its best-suited interval. Try a Likert scale (you know, the kind you find in questionnaires where you select from choices like: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree). Continuous scales (1-10) also work.

So for example: rate all comments for emotional content on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 being a negative emotional reaction, 3 being a neutral emotional reaction, and 5 being a positive emotional reaction.

Step 3: Make Like a Data Accountant and Crunch Those Numbers!

Building off our numerical Likert scale from 1 to 5, we can create averages for each of our social media posts. This is where our standard algebra comes in (you haven’t forgotten algebra, have you?).

After you’ve assigned a numerical value to each comment, add up your numbers. Let’s say out of 5 comments, you’ve received:

  • 3 comments that rate 5 (very positive emotional response)
  • 1 comment that rates 3 (neutral)
  • 1 comment that rates 1 (very negative)

That adds up to 19 total “points” out of the potential 25 total points. Divide 19 by 25, giving you 0.76 out of 1. This means that essentially, your post got a grade of 76%. More importantly, this means that you’ve built a rating system that you can use to grade all of your posts.

Step 4: Scale and Apply to All Your Efforts

Of course, this scale is useless unless it’s applied to everything you’re looking to measure. By sizing up and grading all of your posts on one social media channel or across several channels, you can get a better idea of the kind of “rise” you’ve been getting from different interactions with your audience.

Keep in mind that there will always be imperfections in turning your quantitative data into qualitative data. The important thing to keep in mind is that you’ve created a scalable system that gives you tangible results.

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Slava Vidomanets is managing partner at StrataBlue, an Indiana-based digital strategy management firm that specializes in marketing services, cloud solutions, and business analytics. Follow him on LinkedIn.
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