It is an alchemist's blend of art and science when it comes to qualitative marketing research. The analysis of open-ended questions found on most surveys is indeed a qualitative endeavor. At its core this is an iterative process, even with the use of text analytics tools such as OdinText.
Where do you start? In my experience a good place to start with text analysis is with a word cloud. These charts provide a visual cue of the importance of words and phrases. The larger the typeface, the more relevant the word is to the data. By relevance I mean number of mentions. The tools on the market now will create a ranking based upon the raw number of mentions and the associated percentage.
Open-ended comments, be it from surveys, online chat-logs or other sources can provide a wealth of untapped consumer insight. The raw data can be imported from existing studies or collected as part of a current research stream. Either way, text analysis can facilitate a deeper connection with your respondents.