Know the Difference: Quantitative vs. qualitative data in event marketing

Within the field of event marketing, data collection is critical to long-term success. Data helps shape decisions on future events – often providing a clear path forward to the production of events which yield greater ROIs.

In the popular imagination, the word “data” brings to mind images of numbers and figures – and statistics and percentages.

And this is an accurate reflection of the meaning of “data” – if we’re talking about quantitative data, that is.

But there is another form of data – qualitative data – that is just as important to event marketing as quantitative information.

So let’s unpackage this – what’s the difference between these two types of data? And when are they most useful to the process of event management and planning?

Let’s take a look at quantitative data first.

Quantitative data consists of any information that comes in the form of hard numbers. For example, all KPIs for experiential marketing campaigns – such as the number of samples given away, the number of impressions and interactions, and so on – are expressed as quantitative datasets.

In short: any question that is answered with hard, exact numbers is a question that is answered by quantitative data.

Quantitative data is especially useful in event management contexts where specific demographic and psychographic information is desirable. For instance, suppose your event staffing agency is attempting to choose the best location out of two candidate locations for your event. The agency might poll a sample of your target audience to determine which location – on a scale of 1-10 – is preferred.

At this stage, the event staffing firm doesn’t need to know the full range of opinions towards the different locations – it simply needs to know the degree to which one location is much more preferable than the other. Thus, quantitative data is effective here.

But qualitative data can swoop in here and dramatically change the direction of the event planning process.

Qualitative data is, by definition, subjective. It is data compiled from the attitudes and opinions of event goers, your target audience (whether or not they go to the event), on-site brand ambassadors and promotional models, and more. It is data that is open to interpretation – but it nevertheless can be wielded just as effectively as quantitative data.

Qualitative data – often gathered through well-designed focus groups – can yield explosive insights which can be used to make much more effective event marketing campaigns.

Consider the example above, for instance – of your event staffing agency choosing from one of two locations. In this case, qualitative data harvested from focus groups of your target audience could reveal that, in fact, a third (previously unthought of) location would be much, much preferable than any of the other two options.

With this information in hand, your agency could then quickly book that venue or location, delivering an event that is even more memorable to your target audience.

As you can see, then, both quantitative and qualitative data have their uses and specific strengths. The strategic choice of when to collect quantitative or qualitative data (or both) can be a difficult one – but it is a choice that results-oriented event staffing firms are perfectly comfortable with.

(If that’s the kind of agency you’re looking for, then feel free to contact us.)