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research method

How to Know What Research Methodologies to Use for the Insights You Need

Jennifer Elium

Generally speaking, most research methodologies are relatively standard tools. And like most tools, their value depends on the ability of the user. How well you balance the art (technique) and science (tools) of qualitative and quantitative research can determine whether or not you win. Learn how to set a strategy and hypothesis, and deploy questions that will expose the valuable insights that often hide between the lines.

Determining when and how to use qualitative and quantitative research methodologies is a step-by-step process that starts with laying out a smart strategy based on what you need to know, identifying the appropriate research to uncover the right data, and then considering the knowledge and applications that make the process and outcomes worthwhile.

Headwork before footwork

Before the first call is made, before the first text is sent, before the first survey is completed, you need to spend the time to build a strategic plan capable of producing the data you need to produce useful insights. Your strategy includes tactical considerations like timeline, budget, and audience. Perhaps even more importantly, it identifies your central question. 

By starting with what you need to know, you’ll be more likely to get answers than a spreadsheet filled with data points. From there, you’re ready to identify your hypothesis — your prediction about what you think is going to happen in your study. It’ll provide the guardrails for your study that will move you toward meaningful insights.

Build your toolbox

Once you’ve figured out your approach, consider the actual mechanisms. Research methods and strategies are evolving with technological, economic, demographic, and environmental shifts. You have options that range from in-person interviews to mobile polls. Consider your questions, hypothesis, audience, budget, and efficiency needs to help you choose.

It’s likely you’ll use a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Not sure where to start? A good rule of thumb is if you need statistical validation, start with quantitative research methods. If you need opinions, thoughts, feelings, or new ideas, qualitative approaches will be more effective. 

Quantitative research is great for answering questions like “Which one?” or “How much?” and for producing data you can express graphically. Methods include:

  • Telephone Surveys
  • Mixed Modal Surveys
  • Mobile Surveys
  • Online Surveys
  • Specialized Community Panel Surveys
  • Text-Based Surveys

Qualitative research is useful for going deep into an issue or uncovering uncover biases, fears, and hopes. Methods include:

  • Advertising/Program Testing
  • Bulletin Board Discussion Groups
  • Consumer Journals
  • Dial Groups
  • In-Person Focus Groups
  • One-On-One In-Depth Interviews (IDIs or 1:1s)

It’s likely you’ll use a blended approach that balances the potential of both methods to gather statistical and narrative data. Doing so can offer a complete, well-rounded picture of the question or issue. 

Insight is the Goal

As much consideration and effort as you’ll put into your research, remember that your methods are the means to the end, not the end itself. The real value is in the information that answers your question and validates (or contradicts) your hypothesis. This is why good research balances science and art. 

The ‘science’ is the execution. The ‘art’ is in how you read the black, white, and grey. A great research team will make sure you’re making the most of the right tools and coming out of a project with solid analysis and useful clarity. 

Not sure the best way to proceed? How to balance ROI and deadlines with the value that lives farther out on the horizon? Meeting Street Insights knows every one of these research methods inside and out. We know their strengths, gaps, and expected expenditures. We also know how to spot the real information that often lives between the data points. 

Download our eBook to learn more about why and how to employ the many quantitative and qualitative methodologies available to answer your most important questions.

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know the winning issues,
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know the winning issues,
targets, and positioning