Qualitative research has the ability to transform your business when collected and actioned upon effectively. In this guide, we’ll show you how to leverage email & SMS marketing to generate key insights from your customers that help move the needle in your business.
What is Qualitative Research?
Qualitative research is data you obtain directly from your customers through surveys, questionnaires, progressive profiling, in-person interactions and recordings. Data tends to be nonnumerical.
Why is Qualitative Research important in eCommerce?
Quite simply: you want to understand your customers as much as possible. Their aspirations for using your product or service, their pain points, and friction points that prevent them from buying once or turning into repeat customers.
By leveraging qualitative research methods, you can generate insights over email that help improve your top-of-the-funnel targeting methods, level of customer service, quality of experiments you run, and product description pages to drive more conversions and even derisk product development to drive more successful launches.
In short, qualitative research has the power to improve every element of your business.
Where to Implement Qualitative Research with Email & SMS Marketing
When we implement qualitative research methods with the brands we control, we generally look at drop-off points in the customer journey that we need to plug the gap with to drive conversions.
The common drop-off points are:
- First-time purchase: why does a new lead not convert?
- Post-purchase: why doesn’t a customer make a second purchase?
- Lapsed: why does a customer disengage from the brand and churn?
The techniques we use to collect qualitative research vary but are generally utilised over email & SMS marketing in the form of deploying a conversational approach, progressively profiling customers with button clicks, or leveraging surveys at various stages of the customer journey.
The below diagram provides a visual overview of the system in practice:
Examples of Qualitative Research in Email & SMS Marketing
Friction Point 1: Welcome Flow
What we’re trying to find: Why the customer hasn’t converted.
Method used: Progressive Profiling.
You acquire a lead, but they don’t make their first purchase in the Welcome Series after the first 7 days. What do you do?
Most people start peppering the leads with campaigns. And while you’re likely to convert a small portion of those profiles over time, you’re also missing out on a huge amount of potential research that helps you overcome the objections of first-time buyers.
Here’s an example of how Progressive Profiling in the Welcome Flow can help you unlock insights about the customer:
Based on the buttons they click inside Klaviyo, we can now start to collect insights as to what other solutions customers have tried to improve sleep for this pillow brand.
We now know that most customers have tried other pillows to help them sleep, but perhaps they haven’t converted due to being unconvinced by the lack of differentiation.
Based on these insights, it is clear that in our ad copy and product description pages, we need to overcome these objections and provide a compelling case as to why our product is better than alternatives, perhaps by leveraging social proof comparing the pillow to previous solutions, or by focusing on product features that are unique to the product and not available elsewhere. By utilising these insights, we can collectively generate cross-channel insights on autopilot that improve the whole business.
Friction Point 2: Abandoned Cart
What we’re trying to find: why the customer hasn’t converted
Method used: Conversational Approach.
When a customer adds something to their cart but doesn’t follow through with the sale. What stopped them from purchasing?
Ask them - it really can be as simple as this.
Here’s an example of how qualitative insights can be gained and brands can drive more conversions by using a conversational approach over SMS in abandoned carts:
As these responses sync through to the Help Desk for most brands in Gorgias, your customer service team can then build up a repository of the most common questions customers ask.
These questions can be used to craft more thoughtful FAQs on the website and find their way through to product description pages.
In the examples above, the customer service team may identify scepticism over probiotics as a reason why people convert. The marketing team now knows this is a friction point harming conversions and strategically improves copy to help alleviate this scepticism.
Friction Point 3: Post-Purchase (1st-time buyers)
What we’re trying to find: if the customer is using the product
Method used: Conversational Approach.
I’ve written extensively about post-purchase journeys in the past, and a key theme that most CRM marketers miss is that your first goal is to ensure product adoption. Unless you can drive adoption, any attempt to drive a repeat sale in the form of offers is futile.
Deploying qualitative research at this stage of the customer journey can not only help drive repeat sales, but it also provides a strong customer experience that shows empathy to the customer.
In the example email below, I love this thoughtful check-in from the brand in the form of a plain text email:
The customer service team is now open to collective qualitative feedback about common customer concerns using the product and positive or negative feedback. This can be used to provide better onboarding and improve product development.
You would be shocked at how many customers have ordered from you but don’t actually understand how to use the product but fail to reach out to you or even just forget to use it.
Sometimes, customers may also order too much on their first order, and your retargeting efforts are backed by misconstrued data as there is a conflict behind when you think a customer should be ready to replenish VS when they actually are ready to make another purchase. If you don’t ask, you won’t know!
Friction Point 4: Lapsed customer
What we’re trying to find: why a customer has stopped buying from us
Method used: Conversational Approach.
Let’s be honest: the majority of customers don’t purchase again because they receive a discount in a Winback Flow.
And while this strategy is somewhat marginally effective, it doesn’t get to the bottom of why customers really stop buying (which is more valuable), as well as improves the usual Placed Order Rate of a Winback Flow, which is around 3-4% with deep discounting, at best.
I like to flip things on their head when it comes to the point of lapse in the customer lifecycle, and qualitative research can be used in really creative ways here to re-engage your audience.
Here’s an example of deploying a conversational approach via SMS marketing to achieve this:
Now, I’m fully aware that we’re offering an incentive in the above example, but there’s a reason for this: engagement rates around churn are historically low, and we’re trying to maximise the response rate.
And if customers won’t buy again due to not using the product anymore (or another reason), that doesn’t necessarily mean your product isn’t great for one of their friends or family.
Gift cards also have high redemption rates, which can serve as a new acquisition tool for your business.
…Anyway, back to qualitative research: this conversational approach can provide insights into why customers stop buying from us.
Did the product suck? Does the customer buy from your competitors? Did they fall off track in being disciplined with using the product?
By collecting these insights, you can share cross-channel insights that can improve the whole customer journey in a way conducive to improving conversions and retention across the whole business.
Now that’s a true WIN to get from a historically poorly engaged flow.
Cross-Channel Sharing is the Key to Unlocking the Power of Qualitative Research
If you revisit our original diagram above, you’ll remember that qualitative research aims to improve the business holistically by sharing cross-channel insights that aren’t siloed over email.
When you develop systems for sharing the reports and feedback, you generate via CRM. Every department can move collectively towards better performance as you gain a more concrete understanding of your customer’s aspirations, goals, pain points and feedback on your products and brand.
Leverage these strategies in automation and campaigns to improve every area of the business collectively, and you’ll unlock an unheralded superpower of email & SMS marketing.
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