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6 qualitative data analysis examples to inspire you

Qualitative data analysis is complex, and without seeing examples of successful QDA in action, it can seem like an overwhelming, time-consuming process. 

But the value of QDA—the customer insights and ideas you'll uncover—makes the process worth it, and you might be surprised at how efficient (and even fun!) some QDA methods can be.

Last updated

19 Aug 2022
6 Qualitative Data Analysis Examples To Inspire you

When you think about data, you probably think quantitative first: facts, figures, and numbers. You can line them up neatly in a spreadsheet, and suddenly they just make sense. 

You know qualitative data is crucial too, but how do you organize and interpret all those words, emotions, and motivations once you collect them? 

This guide looks at six qualitative data analysis examples from companies that got real results. For each one, we look at the type of analysis used and how it played a role in the company’s success—so you can walk away with exciting new techniques to try.

Find clarity on what customers want

Hotjar's product experience insights help teams collect qualitative data so you can deliver a better customer experience.

Get inspired with 6 qualitative data analysis examples 

All companies can benefit from qualitative data analysis to better understand their customers. The question is: which QDA methods are the most effective? 

Qualitative data analysis isn't a one-size-fits-all process—different teams can benefit from different qualitative data analysis types. For example, you might be looking for ways to analyze product reviews, while another team might be trying to make sense of thousands of survey responses.

Sometimes a glimpse into the successful processes of other companies can help you pick up new tricks of your own. Here are six qualitative data analysis examples to inspire you to improve your own process:

1. Art.com 

Art.com is an ecommerce company selling art prints. Their 100% happiness guarantee—they’ll issue a full refund, no questions asked—shows their commitment to putting customers first. But to be proactive—so you can create a delightful customer experience from the start—it helps to collect and analyze data to see what people really want and need.

Their approach to qualitative data analysis

Art.com used Net Promoter Score® (NPS) surveys to ask customers to rate, and then comment in their own words, whether they'd recommend the company to friends or colleagues. 

Collecting the data was one thing, but analyzing it was another. One person was tasked with combing through spreadsheets of insights, using the program’s 'search' function to manually find key words and phrases.

Art.com wanted a Natural Language Processing (NLP) solution to analyze the data for them, so they turned to a tool called Thematic, which allowed them to automatically find and sort survey responses by customized themes. (Note: this qualitative data analysis type is simply called—you guessed it—thematic analysis.)

One Thematic feature essential to Art.com’s analysis was the ability to see how customers' feelings about the company, their products, and the buying experience impacted the bottom line. In other words, the tool allowed them to chart qualitative data alongside quantitative performance data to make actionable changes.

But analysis doesn’t have to be done in a silo. Remember how Art.com had one person poring over data all alone? Thematic enabled the company to create a plan for sharing the responsibility for data analysis. Now Art.com has Team Consumer Leaders: team members who take ownership of the analysis processes each month.

Qualitative data analysis for the win

The results: Art.com spent less time manually combing through data, and shifted the load from one person to a whole team of analysts through data democratization. Plus, they gained a better understanding of customers’ feelings and reactions from NPS surveys, because they could analyze the impact the results had on business performance. 

If this was your company: automatically classifying feedback into categories or themes makes it easier to base decisions on qualitative data versus just a hunch. Follow Art.com's example of using QDA to make customer-centric product decisions and deliver a better user experience.

Pro tip: use Hotjar Net Promoter Score® (NPS) Surveys to create and customize surveys to give your customers. 

In addition to simple rating scales, Hotjar's NPS surveys let you ask short follow-up questions, to gain additional context in the voice of the customer (VoC). You can put these surveys directly on your website, or email them to your customer list. 

With NPS surveys, you can gather valuable insights about what your customers are really thinking—and analyze the responses to find ways to improve their experience.

2. Matalan

A household name in the UK, Matalan offers savings on family goods at over 200 retail locations. When they migrated to a new website, their big question was: how can we provide the same smooth experience online we’re known for in-store?

Their approach to qualitative data analysis

To find the answer to that question, Matalan turned to Hotjar (that’s us! 👋). The user experience team at Matalan started by using our Survey tool to check in with customers, to see what they thought of the new site. Then they dug into a couple of other Hotjar tools for added context—for example, they found that pairing the Feedback widget with Session Recordings was the eye-opening combo they needed:

Hotjar really empowers you to be able to see exactly what your users are doing, how they’re feeling and ultimately their reactions to the changes you make. Without Hotjar we would still be making decisions based on gut instinct instead of qualitative user feedback.

Karl Rowlands
UX Manager, Matalan

But the Matalan team didn’t stop there. They built a custom dashboard in Google Data Studio as a home base for analyzing their results. When they integrated their Feedback results with Google Data Studio, they could conduct qualitative analysis using the same method we mentioned above: thematic analysis. Organizing the information by theme helped the team spot trends that they could use to inform website changes to A/B test.

#Matalan’s Hotjar data in a custom Google Data Studio dashboard
Matalan’s Hotjar data in a custom Google Data Studio dashboard

Qualitative data analysis for the win

The results: after using Hotjar to create hypotheses about customer behavior, Matalan’s success rate in split testing for the website went up by 17%. Then, by adding Google Data Studio into the picture, they could dig even deeper into the analytical process. They also found this was a great way to get more eyes on data within the company—and open the lines of communication across teams.

If this was your company: qualitative data analysis can help create clarity around the real user experience, and can help you make customer-centric design decisions to reduce friction for website visitors.

Pro tip: want to follow Matalan’s lead? 

Hotjar has a step-by-step process for open-ended question analysis. Read our tutorial to learn how to export survey results into Google Sheets—we’ve even included a template to get you started.

3. Yatter

Yatter is an agency that helps businesses generate more pay-per-click leads so they can scale and grow. Gavin Bell, Yatter’s founder, helps optimize his clients’ (and his own) social media ads and landing pages to drive traffic and make sales. 

Yatter's approach to qualitative data analysis

Gavin’s style of analysis fits squarely into one of the qualitative data analysis types called diagnostic or root-cause analysis. Essentially, this method investigates why people make decisions by looking for outliers or patterns in data, and can be used for both qualitative and quantitative research.

For their qualitative data analysis, Yatter leans heavily on Hotjar Recordings to understand the user experience on websites—and make improvements accordingly. Gavin’s tip? Always watch five recordings of a customer interacting with a site before making any changes to it

On one website he was working on for a stem cell company, Gavin knew that users left during the checkout process, and wanted to understand why. He watched user after user get confused during checkout, and click on the menu icon instead. As a result, Gavin decided to remove the menu button from that page.

#A Tweet showing Yatter’s success with Hotjar
A Tweet showing Yatter’s success with Hotjar

On his personal site, watching recordings helped Gavin realize that leads spent a long time coming up with a user name to enter in a form. Seeing this behavior led Gavin to auto-fill the form with users’ emails, saving them several seconds in the process and improving their journey.

Hotjar lets you go granular and really understand the individuals using the page. In other words, it turns data into life.

Gavin Bell
Founder, Yatter

Qualitative data analysis for the win

The results: by watching session recordings, Gavin could spot even the smallest bugs and stumbling blocks and find solutions. For example, Yatter increased conversions for one client by 20%just by removing the menu button from the checkout page. For his own page, Gavin was happy to have saved time for visitors, knowing that satisfied leads and customers are the ones that stick around. 

If this was your company: in addition to driving sales, qualitative data analysis provides you with empathetic insights into who customers are, why they do what they do, and what they need to be happy, so you can make the right changes at the right time to create customer delight.

4. WatchShop

An independent retailer based in the UK, WatchShop specializes in selling brand-name and luxury watches directly to the consumer (also known as business-to-consumer, or B2C). The company created its first ecommerce website back in 2007, and continuously makes changes and improvements to the site. WatchShop's goals? To help more leads find the site and optimize their CX.

Their approach to qualitative data analysis

WatchShop already knew the value of behavioral data—which is why they watched Hotjar Session Recordings. 😉 But they needed help understanding the qualitative insights they were collecting, so explored a QDA method called sentiment analysis. 

Sentiment analysis focuses on emotion in textual data from surveys, reviews, emails, and other sources. Put simply, sentiment analysis helps you understand how customers feel—and why they feel that way. 

WatchShop selected Lumoa, an artificial intelligence-based tool, to help streamline all their text-based data sources. The software then produced an overall customer sentiment score, which functions as a key performance indicator (KPI) that all stakeholders can monitor.

#A sample dashboard showing text analysis in Lumoa
A sample dashboard showing text analysis in Lumoa

When their customer sentiment score substantially dropped or increased at any point, WatchShop used QDA to understand why. Then, they tasked the appropriate teams to fix the negatives, and take advantage of the positives.

Since Lumoa can integrate with other platforms, WatchShop connected it with TrustPilot, a ratings site, to analyze customer reviews. WatchShop also uses Lumoa to analyze competitors’ reviews, to look at how other brands are perceived—and to figure out what they can learn from their peers.

Qualitative data analysis for the win

The results: for one of their clients, WatchShop hoped to improve Product Listing Pages. Using sentiment analysis, the company uncovered issues in the customer journey they hadn’t noticed before, and used their learnings to develop ideas for website changes. In the first round of tests, the company’s conversion rate improved by 4%, and after the second round, conversion rates increased by 10%. 

If this was your company: using a QDA tool like Lumoa helps teams centralize the analytics process, so you can quickly interpret large volumes of qualitative data. Sorting this data also helps you prioritize initiatives based on which issues are most important to your customers.

5. Materials Market

Materials Market does just what their name promises: facilitates trade between construction customers and the suppliers that have the materials they need. The UK-based ecommerce company wants their website to run as smoothly as possible for customers—so they turned to Hotjar for help.

Their approach to qualitative data analysis

Qualitative data analysis doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. Andrew Haehn, one of the founders of Materials Market and the Operations Director, takes a simple approach.

Over breakfast every morning, Andrew watches 20 minutes of Hotjar Recordings, carefully observing how users interact with the site. While he eats, he analyzes what’s going well and what needs improvement. 

Why this approach works: consistency. By watching recordings each day, Andrew becomes familiar with users’ standard behaviors—and more attuned to what might be throwing them off track. 

To be even more effective, Andrew sorts recordings by relevance: Hotjar’s algorithm helps him find the most valuable recordings—those marked 'high' or 'very high'—to help him prioritize his time.

#Hotjar’s relevance algorithm surfaces the most useful recordings
Hotjar’s relevance algorithm surfaces the most useful recordings

One tip from Andrew is to analyze qualitative data alongside quantitative data—from Hotjar’s Heatmaps, for example, which visually depict the most and least popular areas of a web page—to spot areas of confusion and verify user experience issues.

Qualitative data analysis for the win 

The results: Materials Market used Hotjar to collect and analyze qualitative data—and quickly discovered ways to improve the customer experience. Some of the company’s impressive results after watching recordings included: 

  • A decrease in cart abandonment rate from 25% to 4%

  • An increase in conversion rate of paying customers from 0.5% to 1.6% (in a single month)

  • An increase of more than £10,000 in revenue (due to the improved conversion rate)

If this was your company: qualitative data analysis complements quantitative data analysis to help minimize customers' frustrations and maximize profits. Setting time limits and sorting recordings by relevance keeps the analytical process quick and painless.

6. MURAL 

MURAL, a company offering digital whiteboard solutions, specializes in creative and collaborative problem solving. So, it’s only natural that they used the same techniques in their approach to qualitative data analysis.

Their approach to qualitative data analysis

MURAL has been refining their qualitative data analysis skills for years, using different methods along the way. Eventually, as the company grew, it sought out a centralized hub for analyzing customer feedback and other insights. 

MURAL, under co-founder and Head of Product Augustin Soler, turned to EnjoyHQ as their platform of choice. EnjoyHQ helped the company collate qualitative data, generate metrics from that data, and conduct thematic analysis. 

As a team that craves data visualization, they export results from EnjoyHQ onto a MURAL whiteboard so they can arrange information to spark discussion and collaboration. Then they use qualitative data analysis as part of their planning process: product teams can home in on a particular feature they plan to update or release down the road, analyze results for that feature, and use it to inform their work.

#A MURAL canvas displaying data from EnjoyHQ
A MURAL canvas displaying data from EnjoyHQ

Qualitative data analysis for the win

The results: EnjoyHQ helped MURAL shape their qualitative data analysis process—now they can analyze customer feedback in a more structured way, leading to improved communication and collaboration.

If this was your company: collecting and analyzing qualitative data is vital to optimizing product decisions. Don't be afraid to try new qualitative data analysis methods—or to customize solutions to meet your specific needs.

Pro tip: personalized communication shows customers you care, which can improve brand loyalty and trust. 

For example, when MURAL releases new features, they follow up by sending emails to the people who requested them. Customers then know the company was listening and is taking action to meet their specific needs.

Find ways to make your qualitative data work for you

The qualitative data analysis examples on this page show the clear results that come from focusing on customer insights. 

Qualitative data amplifies the success you're already achieving from crunching numbers in quantitative analysis. By using new types of qualitative data analysis in your team’s processes, you can stop relying on your gut—and instead make data-backed, user-centric product decisions.

Find clarity on what customers want

Hotjar's product experience insights help teams collect qualitative data so you can deliver a better customer experience.

FAQs about qualitative data analysis