Best Practices

A single source of truth: The power of qualitative and quantitative data

Published Jun 8, 2021

Building a product is a bit like taking your car on a road trip: There are at least two things that are absolutely essential in getting from point A to point B: fuel to power your vehicle, and a way to chart your course.

When it comes to data-driven product management, quantitative data is the fuel, and qualitative data is your road map.

But how do you begin collecting and leveraging that data? Pendo sales engineer John Barber recently broke down exactly how to start tracking product usage and engagement, and how to measure user sentiment to drive more informed product decisions. All of it can be done right inside Pendo.

The fuel: Quantitative data

Before you can start asking people the right questions about how they feel about your product and its features, you need to know how they’re engaging with them, and how each users’ preferences and workflows differ.

Pendo retroactively tracks every action every user has with your platform. Segmenting subsets of users based on those interactions is the best way to start sorting out who’s doing what and begin targeting them with surveys and other methods of collecting qualitative data. 

You might, for instance, target users who have used a particular feature more than 10 times in a month—that could indicate they’re a power user. Conversely, you could also target users who have not engaged with that feature at all, or used it only once. Those would likely be your less happy users, and the surveys can reveal why that’s the case so the situation can be fixed.

If you’re looking to collect data on a specific feature, you could display an in-app guide with the survey on it right after a user engages with it to capture contextual, top-of-mind feedback. Or, you could target users in a specific country.

Quantitative data around your use of guides can be useful for creating better support and onboarding processes, too. Examining how successful users who have seen a particular guide are versus those who have not can tell you how impactful the processes you’ve designed are, and whether they should be revisited.

Every product has certain behaviors that cause users to realize the true value of your product and become sticky. At Pendo, we call them Core Events, and quantitative data around those actions can help you gauge whether you’re successfully driving users toward them as quickly as possible. Pendo’s Data Explorer is a good place to crunch the data and identify these events.

The map: Qualitative data

So you’re fueled up now. Let’s turn our attention to making sure you’re heading in the right direction. This is where qualitative data is king.

Knowing how users are engaging with your product is only half the equation. Asking them why they’re using it the way they are and how they feel about the experience is the key to being sure you stay on track and deliver new features or fixes that deliver the most value possible.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tried-and-true way of gauging how users feel about their interactions with your product, or even individual features. The best way to measure it is to survey users in-app, while they’re actively working with the tool, and to target the surveys as described above.

There are loads of different ways to design your surveys, too. Beyond just raw NPS, you can add a free text box for users to provide deeper feedback. 

Once you’ve got your results, you can segment that data, too. Splitting out promoters from detractors can reveal the reasons users love or hate a particular feature.

The other piece of collecting actionable qualitative feedback is asking users not only how they feel about what your product offers, but what they’d like to see added to it.

A critical component of having a good feedback system is not to keep progress towards the things your users are requesting hidden from view in an internal spreadsheet or other backend system. You should have a clear feedback policy, and make the system public and interactive, that way users can add their voice to the requests others make and keep tabs on how close you’re getting to releasing that key feature they’ve been waiting for.

As users upvote the features they’d most like to see added, you can start to form a clearer picture of where you should put limited resources to ensure you’re using them to add the most value to your product.