By: Gayle Rogers, Founder of Atomic
The other day, somebody asked me what separates a good agency from a great agency. And while there are a lot of factors that come into play, I think there’s one thing that really sticks out, and that’s the difference between the use of quantitative data and qualitative analysis.
I believe that most agencies use quantitative data, but I would even venture to say that less than 10% percent utilize qualitative analysis. Good agencies can do a good job with analytics data. But the change agents, the business consultants, those who strive to help make a true difference, are going to incorporate qualitative analysis.
Defining the Difference in Quantitative and Qualitative Data
Quantitative analytics or analysis is going to be dealing with numbers, so generally speaking, this is looking at hard data.
On the other hand, qualitative analysis is going to be less tangible, subjective and even based on opinions. It’s typically going to be the analysis that is harder to express as a number, and really, that’s the interpretation of the data, right?
Most agencies live and die on quantitative analysis. They provide data tables and charts on a predetermined interval. These are typically standard metrics and saying, “This is up. This is down.”
In reality, it’s the combination of the qualitative analysis and the interpretation of the data that can really be the difference between getting good results and truly remarkable change.
Did you hire a GOOD agency?
Make sure they are first supplying you with quantitative analysis.
As a business, the first question you need to ask is can your agency provide you with quantitative analysis? Can they show you the data?
Because here’s the reality of the situation – there are undoubtedly agencies out there, which I don’t know how they get away with this, but they don’t provide clients’ with any data at all. Some are just going off of their gut, and others have the data – they’re just not sharing it with clients.
Either way, that’s a scary proposition in and of itself.
Quantitative analysis can be something as basic as pulling data from Google Analytics, Google Ads, or email newsletter campaigns. Or, it could be any other type of research that they’re doing such as pulling data on target demographics, psychographics, or other things of that nature.
So that’s the baseline of what you’re looking for in an agency.
Did you partner with a GREAT agency?
Make sure they’re going a step further and providing qualitative analysis.
I think what really makes an agency a true business partner and makes them stand out is going to be that next step of interpretation – the qualitative analysis. Here’s how you’ll be able to figure out whether or not your agency has this ability. Find out if they’re conducting surveys, focus groups, questionnaires, and customer interviews. See if they make it a priority to observe how their clients’ teams are interacting with customers, and if they’re helping to develop case studies.
There’s a Japanese saying, Genchi genbutsu, that was popularized by Toyota. The literal translation is “real location, real thing”, but it is often translated as “Go and See”. The concept is to go to the actual place where the work or transaction takes place and observe.
Not enough agencies do this, and this fundamental step can tell you so much about a business and their needs.
Why is this first-hand observation important?
Because sometimes small shifts in process, communication, or presentation can make all the difference. You could be doing everything right from a marketing perspective, but from a business operations perspective, you could be struggling.
These are definitely both things worth looking at, and potentially, worth changing.
So, to sum up, as a business, what do you need to be looking at when it comes to your agency?
1) Determine if your agency is providing you with that quantitative analysis.
2) See if they’re taking the appropriate next steps to help you interpret what that data means.
3) Find out if they’re curious enough themselves to go and learn more about your business and your processes, and try to truly understand your customers and their wants and needs.
When Your Agency Truly Understands Your Business and Your Customers, This Is Where You Can Achieve True Growth
When you understand your customers’ problems, and position your products as a way to solve those problems, you can create advocates and truly grow as a company.
Unfortunately, data in and of itself, as powerful as it is, is never going to get you there.
Machine learning, as powerful as it is, is never going to get you there because machines can’t go to the place of commerce and watch how people interact. They can interpret massive amounts of data and make changes based on that data, but can’t understand how you need to talk to your customers based on their fears, excitement, and the things that truly drive them in life.
Being practical is one thing, but connecting with people on an emotional level is quite another. And if your agency can help you figure out how to do that with a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, then you’re in a great place.