In the last post and the one before, I have been talking about all the benefits of the qualitative methods of research (qualitative research is deep-dive, story-driven research that is adept at answering your complex questions.)
But, there is one big drawback. Qualitative is not statistically significant, and unless your membership is very small, we cannot capture every member’s voice.
Many quantitative surveys can be statistically significant, and they are usually open to every member. Anyone who wants to share their opinion can. So it seems like quantitative surveys should be the method of choice because we want feedback from many members but, both methods have tradeoffs. Think of the two methodologies as apples and oranges, each suitable for a specific type of exploration.
Quantitative, like surveys, is statistically significant. Quantitative is useful for uncovering problems like gaps in satisfaction or value. More boards feel comfortable with the breadth of quantitative. But a quantitative method alone might give you the wrong answers or leave you asking more questions.
Qualitative is the deep-dive research method. Qualitative is great for identifying solutions to problems. Qualitative does a good job answering strategic questions. But qualitative alone, with the small sample size, might make you wonder if the results represent the whole membership or member segment. I find that the big insights in qualitative research do, indeed, get proved out in a quantitative follow-up survey.
Ultimately, you can choose to do one or the other or both! The two methods work well together especially when the qualitative research is conducted first, and the results are used to write the quantitative survey. The result is an accurate survey, larger sample sizes, and a final report with the stories, color, and anecdotes to illustrate the findings. The New Member Engagement Study is a mixed method study. Have you got questions for your members? Get started with the qualitative, deep-dive method and then, if more information is needed, continue with quantitative.