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Types of Content Analysis in Qualitative Research

types of content analysis in qualitative research
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Conducting content analysis is essential for marketers.

Content analysis is an essential part of any good marketing strategy. When data is not properly studied and measured, avoidable mistakes will happen again and again.

When conducting research in marketing, quality trumps quantity, although both are very important. In a digital world where content is king, conducting research determining the quality of the content you release on your company’s behalf is extremely important to conduct. There are three approaches to qualitative content analysis that are essential to include when creating a comprehensive content analysis research design.

Types of Content Analysis in Qualitative Research

    • Conventional

    With conventional content analysis, marketing managers use the data they have to gain insights into how well their product or service is doing in the market. With this method, marketing managers tend to immerse themselves in the data to gain a better sense of what the data is telling them, rather than assuming what the data might tell them. With this type of content analysis, marketers should take notes of their first impressions and thoughts. As they continue to research the data, they will see their initial thoughts and impressions begin to change. With this content analysis methodology, marketers researching their data will gain new, useful insights about the data they never even noticed before. This method allows marketers to look at the data from a different view which will help them to approach problems they notice in a different, more effective way.

    • Directed

    While conventional content analysis uses data, the researcher has never seen before, directed content analysis uses data that has already been established in the company. This data, though, is oftentimes incomplete and can benefit from further description. This approach is much more structured than a conventional approach, as the researcher is using prior research for their starting point. When marketers use this method of content analysis, they should be able to validate the methods they are using for their marketing efforts. Any efforts that cannot be validated from the data require revision or to be scrapped altogether.

    • Summative

    Summative content analysis starts with identifying and qualifying data with the purpose of understanding why certain marketing methods are being used. This method is not meant for marketers to infer meaning from the data but rather explore the data more. This method is intended for the researcher to discover underlying meanings of why certain marketing efforts are being put into place. This method allows researchers to study the data in an unobtrusive and nonreactive way and provides insights into how the marketing efforts are being used. The findings from this method, however, are limited by their inattention to any broader meanings presented by the data. This method relies highly on credibility so if a marketer is using uncredited data, to begin with, their research of that data, using this type of content analysis, will be faulty.

The importance of content analysis is a great deal for marketers because without analyzing content, marketers will not know if the content they are pushing out to the public on the company’s behalf is improving traffic, conversions or ROI. Content analysis is an essential aspect of any good marketer’s marketing efforts because it allows them to verify that their efforts are in fact beneficial to the company. Without a proper content analysis method in place, marketers will continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly.


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Emily Pribanic
Emily Pribanic
Emily is a graduate of the University of North Texas. She has her B.A. in Advertising with a concentration in Copywriting. Emily has been writing since she was young and has a creative imagination. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her family and two cats.

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