Over the last couple of years qualitative research has made a comeback and piqued the interest of many of our clients in the b2b sector. In taking the lead for qual research here at B2B International HQ, I’ve compiled a list of the 6 critical factors for delivering a successful qualitative research project.
Using the Right Methodology
The crux of any research project is using the correct methodology but within qualitative research it can be even more important. In order to choose the right methodology you first need to understand your research objectives. Once you know what you want to find out, you need to ask yourself one question:
“Does this topic require group discussion or individual in-depth understanding?”
In answering this question you then have a basis for whether your methodology is based around focus groups or in-depth interviews (I’m including ethnography in this for simplicity!).
As an example, in-depth interviews (IDIs) will be more appropriate to gather an intricate understanding of a decision making unit whereas focus groups will be better for discussing a new creative concept.
Talking To the Right Person
With a much smaller sample size with a need to gather greater depth, it’s imperative that the respondent is knowledgeable about the subject and, in b2b markets, that they have significant influence within their company on the subject.
Compiling your list is going to play a huge part in this and in some instances this may need some troubleshooting; particularly if you aren’t 100% sure on who you need to be talking to.
Briefing Interviewers & Moderators
When briefing your interviewers and/or moderators (where necessary) it’s important to remember to get across the main research objective as THE most critical piece of information, rather than focusing on the small details.
A good interviewer or moderator will be able to bring out the key themes from knowing the high-level project objectives.
Note Taking or Transcripts
This one is an area of personal preference but whatever your methodology you will need at least one of them!
The important thing to note here is that when taking notes at a focus group or IDI you must write verbatim (as much as possible) without analysing what’s being said. It should be left for you or the person analysing the notes afterwards to make that judgement.
Transcripts from IDIs should be read as single entities first to get a ‘feel’ for each interview i.e. things that aren’t actually written down. (This is also something you can ask the interviewer to do after each interview).
It is good practice not to leave all this to the end of fieldwork either! You will have a lot of data to read through so it should be done as you go along.
This type of data should be treated very differently to quantitative data, in most cases you aren’t looking for percentages but instead want themes.
Digging into your data, you should look for themes which can be linked to categories and eventually frameworks. There are also a number of different techniques we can utilise during analysis including Grounded Theory, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis and Discourse Analysis. (Look out for my next blogs which will go into these techniques in detail!)