How Qualitative & Quantitative Research Helped a Major Financial Company Optimize a Winning Message

Oct 16, 2019

There are a lot of critical points in a sales funnel where customers can easily drop off. But one way to ensure they don’t disappear is to communicate to your customers in a way that directly addresses their unique questions, worries, or frustrations. Those targeted messages elevate a customer relationship from a one-way delivery of information to a two-way conversation, and help build credibility and trust at those critical points.

But if you’re not sure what to communicate or how, then you’re stuck relying on best guesses or only the most basic data from your customer profiles to inform your messaging. And neither is going to produce the results you want in our fast-moving, hyper-competitive business world.

Case in point: a leading financial services company was looking to update its loan platform with communication that addressed the key pain points they had identified in the loan process, and that also helped differentiate themselves from the competition. In doing so, they wanted to reinforce the company’s foundational values and hard-fought competitive advantages.

If they could communicate these important messages effectively to the customer, then they could build more confidence in their loan platform and further solidify the company’s values in the minds of customers. But to get there, they needed a way to really know if their own messaging was on target, and that required tapping into consumer insights.

The financial brand’s challenge in detail

The brand’s insights team wanted to understand the effectiveness of potential new positioning statements for the company’s loan platform first, then use those findings to refine, optimize, and go to market with the message that consumers preferred and that fit best with the brand’s business model and desired equity.

The brand had these key objectives:

  • Explore positioning approaches for areas of strength or opportunity
  • Identify the strongest positioning statement that merited future focus
  • Refine consumer-facing language within the winning approach

To carry out their objectives, the brand needed an agile, iterative research approach using both qualitative and quantitative methods that could be optimized throughout the funnel.

The solution and research

The financial brand worked with GutCheck to implement a three-phase approach, including quantitative and qualitative methodologies, to quickly refine, narrow, and optimize the winning messaging statement. This approach leveraged GutCheck’s ability to directly move from a qualitative discussion with consumers that elicited thought processes and nuanced reactions to the messaging, into a quantitative prioritization that definitively identified the winning positioning to be used for further development.

Supported by the qualitative findings from the initial phase, the winning positioning was then optimized to create a final, consumer-facing messaging approach that was deeply informed by consumer insights.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how each research phase was conducted:

Phase 1: Qualitative Exploratory Research Group™

An Exploratory Research Group is an online qualitative exploration to better understand consumer attitudes and behaviors.

In this phase, the financial brand explored three separate customer-facing positioning statements to understand which ones would be the most compelling and have the highest impact on purchase intent. They also wanted to gain knowledge around whether or not the messaging was working overall in terms of clarity, understanding, emotions elicited, and appeal.

Phase II: Quantitative Concept Prioritizer™

The Concept Prioritizer is a quantitative test that leverages statistical testing on key metrics to confidently identify top performers.

The financial brand evaluated the positioning statements against six standard metrics for messaging — appeal, uniqueness, believability, brand fit, engagement, and relevance — in order to determine a winning positioning statement and the areas for improvement.

The quantitative research in this phase uncovered the following findings that were used to guide the refinement and optimization process for the next phase:

  • Consumers expressed skepticism of large financial institutions; as a result, a more friendly and cordial feel was recommended
  • Many consumers that had experience with the brand had favorable impressions of the customer experience, which hadn’t been leveraged in the brand’s previous positioning statements
  • Lower-performing statements drew criticism for tone over substance, showing a balance of additional substantive copy should be applied where needed

Phase III: Qualitative Concept Refiner™

The Concept Refiner is a qualitative study that gathers consumer reactions and feedback on stimuli to identify opportunities to enhance and refine a product or message.

After prioritizing the statements in the quantitative phase, the winning positioning statement was then further optimized by running it through another qualitative phase. The final version incorporated the following findings:

  • Positive: The focus on the customer drove feelings of empowerment
  • Positive: Consumers loved the improvements and clear description of a specific offering
  • Positive: The chosen tagline inspired high expectations
  • Positive: The use of everyday cordial language built confidence
  • Area to improve: Consumers needed more specific information to trust the product

The results

The GutCheck research team was able to move the financial brand’s insights team through all three phases of quantitative and qualitative refinement and optimization in just three weeks, far quicker than the brand had expected.

This meant the brand’s insights team wound up with more time to consider and incorporate the key findings and implications from each phase of the project, helping to further ensure that the resulting claims and messaging were a good fit for their target audience.

The financial brand experienced the benefits of agile qualitative and quantitative research first-hand, both in the speed and precision of the findings that were turned around to them and ready for market use. But brands across a spectrum of industries and verticals can use the same research methodologies to create and hone a variety of customer-centric messaging, helping to ensure that no matter where a customer is in the sales funnel, their needs are being met and their language is being spoken.

Check out our qualitative/quantitative research eGuide to see best practices and tips for getting the most out of your collective research, particularly when it comes to testing new products.

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