Insights on Data Insights

26th September 2016

There is a big difference between data and insights and we need to understand each one independently before we combine them.

Data is a collection of facts and figures that we hold about our customers or potential customers such as name, gender, age, occupation, purchase history (see Data Explained for more information.)

Let’s take the fictional character Mr. Smith for example:

Name – Mr Smith
Gender – Male
D.O.B – 01/06/1977
Location – London
Occupation – IT Manager
Subscriptions – Computing Weekly
Pets – N/A
Status – Single
Income – 65k
Purchase – 4 Laptops

We collect this kind of basic data over time whether that is via procurement, online engagement, when a customer purchases and so on (see Collecting Data). This is often stored on what we know as a CRM system, or Customer Relationship Management System, where customers and their activities are recorded to a granular level, this helps us build an overall customer profile.

Insights, however, are far more subjective; they are the granular pieces of customer information in our data which when looked at individually don’t mean a great deal. We may often look at something such as location or gender and think it’s not that important but when we combine a few of these insights we gain an understanding of our customer and what they are interested in or care about.

When we merge the two they become ‘data insights’ which represents the key information that we use to target and engage the customers who are most likely to be interested in specific products or services.

If we take Mr. Smith we can select certain insights in our data to give us a profile so for example we know he’s a male in his mid thirties with a strong interest in IT at work and at home, has a decent income and is single.

Using these insights we can ascertain that Mr. Smith is highly likely to be interested in the newest tech products and has a plenty of disposable income. Now that we know what Mr. Smith is interested in we can position our targeting to suit so that any communication sent to Mr. Smith is relevant and engaging – which means he’s more likely to interact with us and buy our products or services.


The correct understanding and application of data insights allows us to target the right customers with the right messaging to improve engagement and retention – it’s hugely important!