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GuidesResearch methodsWhat is a quantitative observation?

What is a quantitative observation?

Last updated

7 March 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

A quantitative observation is a process of collecting objective data expressed as numbers or values.

This type of observation can be useful when performing scientific studies. It's also highly applicable to sales, marketing, and other business operations. With quantitative observation, you can collect customer and product data to gain insight into your company's performance.

Let's look at performing quantitative observation for your business needs.

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Quantitative observation: definition

A quantitative observation is a method of observing situations or events objectively. Numbers, values, and statistics are usually the results of this type of research. It applies to different research and hard sciences, including physics, chemistry, and astronomy.

In short, if you observe something that can be measured, such as temperature, color, volume, and size, you perform a quantitative observation. It focuses on identifying hard facts that can be measured objectively.

Types of quantitative observation

The four types of quantitative observation include:

Descriptive

This involves observing and measuring variables to analyze them. Examples include observing how many customers use the product over a certain period. This approach is excellent for identifying categories and trends. A case study or survey is usually used for this type of observation.

Correlational

This type of quantitative observation involves determining the extent of a relationship between one or several variables using statistical data. 

For example, you could try to identify the relationship between website visitors and the number of sales. If the increase in sales happened simultaneously with the number of website visitors, it's a positive correlation. If the increase in sales occurred when the number of visitors decreased, it's a negative correlation.

Quasi-experimental

This observation tries to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between two variables. For example, did the rise in sales happen because more visitors started coming to the website? Or maybe because you invested more money in customer retention?

Experimental

This type involves measuring the effect of one or more variables on another by manipulating one of the variables. For example, you could send promotional offers to one group of customers and observe how that affects their buying behavior compared to the group that doesn't get the offer.

Most of the quantitative observation results can be recorded as numbers or values. This can make analyzing them faster and easier.

How businesses can use quantitative observation

A quantitative observation isn't reserved for scientific research. It can also be highly useful for different aspects of business operations, including:

  • Identifying and studying customer buying patterns

  • Testing new products and services before the launch

  • Making decisions about marketing methods

  • Choosing branding options

  • Analyzing the tactics and behavior of your competitors

  • Analyzing and adjusting your retention strategies

  • Identifying cross-selling and upselling opportunities

  • Making decisions about new product development

  • Finding a market for your products and services

  • Figuring out what your target audience is

  • Finding out how well visitors interact with your website

  • Learning how well your digital marketing campaign is working

Quantitative research is an integral part of successful business operations. Coupled with qualitative observation, it can provide valuable insight into customer behavior and the company's competitive edge.

Benefits of quantitative observation

Quantitative observation can provide reliable information to help businesses and marketers adjust their operations, campaigns, and customer relationship approaches. The key benefits of performing this type of observation include the following:

High accuracy

Since quantitative observation works with hard facts backed by numbers and values, it can provide high accuracy. This objective data is easy to check and validate by different team members.

For example, if you are observing customer churn in any given month, you collect numbers that can be used in a formula to calculate churn or retention rates.

Fast analytics

Collecting data through quantitative observation in real-time allows you to gather information quickly. Experiments, surveys, and phone interviews generate immediate answers.

Since this data is in the form of numbers, values, and statistics, it can be analyzed quickly. This, in turn, provides a valuable opportunity for fast decision-making.

Quantitative observation doesn't require complex systems to identify variables and analyze them. That's why it's usually fast and easy to leverage.

Reliability

Unlike qualitative observation, which employs thoughts, opinions, and experience, the quantitative approach focuses on numbers. It is thus less susceptible to bias. This increases the ease of drawing reliable and generalizable conclusions with a business impact. 

No direct observation required

Quantitative observation doesn't require direct interaction with people or personal participation in events. Everything that has to do with this type of research can be done remotely.

For example, you can email a survey and allow the respondents to finish it conveniently. This can increase the number of research participants without costing the company more money. Meanwhile, the results will be just as accurate as they would have been with direct observation.

Quantitative observation: examples

When it comes to running a business, common examples of implementing quantitative observation include:

  • Customer surveys: These ask customers to rate their satisfaction or unhappiness with products or services, which can help you evaluate the overall customer satisfaction rate.

  • Purchase statistics: By observing how often your existing customers make purchases, you can gather data about the success of your product development efforts.

  • Website analytics: By measuring the number of visitors, bounce rates, registration rates, abandoned cart frequency, and other customer behavior on the website, you can gain insight into your sales and marketing strategy.

In 2020, online surveys were the most used quantitative research method worldwide. Next in line were mobile surveys. Other methods include phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, and automated messages.

You can also observe how often your clients and customers contact customer support, return products, stop using services, and more. All of that is part of quantitative observation that provides useful numbers for analytics.

Unlike quantitative observation, qualitative observation focuses on personal opinions, feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

An example of qualitative observation is an open-ended question during a customer interview, such as "What are your thoughts about our company's service?" The response is highly subjective and, unlike precise numbers provided by quantitative observation, it can change from person to person or from situation to situation.

In short, quantitative observation focuses on "how much," "how many," and "how long," while qualitative observation asks "why" and "how." Both types of observations are important for analyzing customer relationships, marketing efforts, and business operations.

Implementing quantitative observation into your business strategy

If you've been running a business for some time, you've already implemented some parts of quantitative observations to identify important sales, marketing, and financial metrics. Taking an in-depth approach to this type of observation allows you to gather more objective data to streamline decision-making.

Implementing quantitative observation is only the first step. The second is analyzing the information you gather. While some observation results may speak for themselves, extracting value from others may require implementing analytics tools.

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