Get Started with Conversational Research: A Step-by-Step Guide

Louise Principe
Mar 30, 2023

Understanding customers’ motivations and communication patterns is key to increasing brand loyalty, building better products and services, or uncovering untapped potential in your market.

However, traditional research techniques don’t always provide enough context on the dynamic relationship between consumer behavior and conversation. Fortunately, conversational research can help bridge that gap. In this blog post, we will go through each step of this process to help you yield accurate consumer insights online and offline.

Step 1: Collect Data

The first step in conducting conversational research is to gather participant responses. This involves recording interactions between people in a conversation. Various data collection methods include recording in-person or virtual conversations, online chat, and social media engagement.

For this step, it is important to obtain the consent of all parties involved before recording the conversation. It would be best if you also took into account ethical considerations around data collection and storage.

Step 2: Transcribe the Discussion

Once you have recorded all the necessary data, the next step is to transcribe your discussion. Transcription involves creating a written record of the conversation. This includes all spoken words and non-verbal cues, such as changes in tone and pauses.

You can do this process manually or automate it using online transcription tools. While time-consuming, manual transcription allows for more detailed analysis. On the other hand, machine-generated transcripts can convert audio to text faster, but the accuracy of the text may vary.

An excellent middle-ground option is a professional transcription service. This type of service uses expert transcribers and editors to deliver fast and accurate transcripts for your conversational research.

Step 3: Analyze the Conversation

After you have an accurate transcript of your recording, it’s now time to analyze the respondents’ dialogue. Identify common themes or patterns in the language used by your participants. This may come in the form of repeating keywords or phrases throughout the conversation.

Some common methods of analysis include:

  • Content analysis: Counting the frequency of certain words or phrases used in the conversation to indicate important topics to your participants.
  • Discourse analysis: Uncovering contextual meaning behind the language. It involves connecting elements (e.g., words, elements, structure) in your text to relevant attributes in your research question.
  • Conversation analysis: Evaluating the structure and flow of the conversation itself. Conversation analysis examines how turns are taken during conversation and how participants signal their intent to talk or respond.

Step 4: Identify Structures

In conversational research, it is crucial to identify structures in the discussion, such as turn-taking and adjacency pairs. Turn-taking refers to how participants take turns speaking, while adjacency pairs are sets of conversational exchanges typically used together, such as questions and answers. By identifying these structures, you can gain insights into the communication patterns of the participants.

Some common conversation structures include:

  • Turn-taking: The way conversations occur in an organized manner. This includes understanding when it is a person’s turn to speak, the acceptable level of overlap between speakers, and whether regional or gender differences need to be considered.
  • Adjacency pairs: This refers to two utterances (typically spoken by different people) with an expected, conventionalized relationship. For example, a question and an answer or a greeting and a response.
  • Repair sequences: This conversational structure typically looks at how participants in a conversation detect, fix, and move past communication breakdowns.

Step 5: Interpret Findings

Finally, it’s essential to consider how your results can be used to inform marketing strategies or product development. When interpreting your findings, you should always keep in mind any limitations of the analysis that may affect its validity, such as context-dependent conversations or researcher bias.

By taking these factors into account, you can draw firm conclusions and actionable decisions that clients and stakeholders can benefit from.

Consider the following questions during interpretation:

  1. What patterns or themes emerged from the conversation?
  2. How do these findings relate to your research goals?
  3. What insights do the findings provide into your target audience’s needs, preferences, or behaviors?
  4. Are there any limitations to the analysis that need to be considered?


Conversational research is a powerful tool for gaining insight into your target audience. It allows you to read between the lines to uncover underlying consumer motivations, needs, and behaviors. Ultimately, leveraging this type of research can help companies build stronger relationships with their customers by providing personalized experiences that meet or exceed expectations.

Understand the Voice of Your Customer with Civicom® Marketing Research Services

Civicom® Marketing Research Services is the global leader in providing web-enabled qualitative solutions for your market research study. Our services include online IDI and focus group facilitation, digital ethnography, respondent recruitment, and other solutions catering to your research needs. Contact us to see how we can help you achieve project success.

Elevate Your Project Success with Civicom:
Your Project Success Is Our Number One Priority

Request a Project Quote

Explore More

Related Blogs