In short: If you’re looking to establish a culture that leans on data and experimentation to drive decision making, it starts with building a culture of curiosity.  This, in turn, requires a healthy mix of quant and qual research that nails all of the what, why and why not questions.

Developing a solid culture that leans on data and insights require a comprehensive research toolset that combines both quantitative and qualitative research.  This means covering all of the “what”, “why” and “why not” questions.  We’ll examine the importance of each question type below.

The what

In business, we need to know what is driving success.  We can drill into these types of questions with both quantitative and qualitative research.  An example is a recent experiment we at LiftCentro did on a website component whose purpose is to promote the sign up of our customer’s newsletter.  We tested both copy and the overall design of the component, but we constructed the experiment in a way that helped us zero in on exactly what was driving success.

When isolating just the design change, we saw a 65% uptick in newsletter sign ups.  Bingo.  When we isolated just the copy change, we did not see any significant differences between the control copy and the copy test variation.  No Bingo. This is a quantitative approach to identifying what is working and, also important, what is not.

A common approach to answering what questions with qualitative research is to tap user research or surveys.  Platforms like Wevo enable you to get the best of both worlds by probing into the minds of people to understand what key drivers are, for example, to motivate a purchase, but with sample sizes that are higher than your typical user study.

What, why and why not

The why

Answering the what questions is fundamental to any research. But building cultures of curiosity must go farther.  You need to understand feelings and motivations for those you are selling to.  Having empathy for the customer is central to the heavy emphasis on customer experience we constantly hear about these days.  To have and show empathy we need to dig deeper than understanding the what.  We need to know what they love about us and what they don’t love about us.

A good example of drilling into the why doubles as the most fundamental way in which sales and marketing can help each other out in both the short and long term.  When a sale has been made, understand why it was made.  Learn why the prospect was compelled to spend money on your product.  This is particularly important in higher price point B2B scenarios, but these why factors can be uncovered in the B2C world through reviews as well.

Jot down the why answers and get them over to your Marketing team so the Marketing team can experiment with how to weave them into new messaging frameworks.  Once validated, the end result is more future demand.  By probing on the why and sharing knowledge across teams with platforms like Datatinga, we’ve come full circle.  The Sales team has helped Marketing and the Marketing team has helped the Sales team by getting more people into the purchase path.

The why not

Last but definitely not least, we need to conquer the why not.  Why not questions usually need to tap qualitative research.  We need to ask people questions so we can understand what some of the factors could be for not wanting to move forward in a process, or buyer journey.

I recently conducted a poll to probe on how a “pricing” link that leads to a page without any pricing listed whatsoever impacts the mindset of the visitor who clicks the pricing link with some anticipation of what is to come.  Out of the 70 respondents, a whopping 59 (84%) indicated that they would not only be annoyed in this scenario, but that this may actually affect their decision to purchase from the company behind the website.  Of the remaining responders, 9 (13%) indicated that they too would be annoyed, but it would have no impact on their purchase decision.  Only 2 (3%) indicated “Whatever – no big deal.”

What we are doing here is uncovering a why not type question.  We are piecing together a reason why someone would not want to purchase.  If we didn’t have the gumption – we love that word – to ask, how would we understand this kind of impact a user flow has on someone’s propensity to purchase?  Split testing and digital analytics simply cannot get at these why nots, and it’s why tapping the full arsenal of research tools is important to building your knowledge about what propels audiences to buy – and not to buy.

Cover it all.  Tackle the what questions, but don’t forget to probe into the why and why nots.