By Mylena Vazquez


Data is only as meaningful as you allow it to be. Without a clear understanding of what your data means and, more importantly, how you can use it to solve your company’s marketing problem, data points are essentially useless. But every data set does have something to say; it is up to marketing researchers to decode it and turn it into a story.

Data is not the end point

A study conducted by Forrester shows that out of the 74% of companies who stated that their goal is to be “data-driven,” only 29% said they were doing a good job of turning data points into action.

To a layperson, data can seem like a foreign language, just a slew of numbers and words on a spreadsheet. Organizing it into things like graphs makes it easy for the average person to visualize and understand the data. It also allows the information stemming from the data to come across more clearly. But information is still not explanation—what does it all even mean? This is where insights come in.

Insights—the “so what?”

Translating data into insights allows us, as researchers, to understand what it is about our data that is noteworthy. And while insights as a whole can be incredibly interesting, it is also vital to consider context while analyzing and interpreting the data. 

Start by reminding yourself of your research question and, more importantly, your research objective. What is it that you were trying to achieve with this study in the first place? Keeping this at the heart of everything you do with your data will ensure that you are prioritizing insights that are not just interesting, but relevant and actionable.

Actionable > interesting

You might be asking yourself, “how do I differentiate between the two?” Knowing when an insight is actionable comes from identifying the key variables from your study that can be used to make decisions for your company based on the context you created through your research objective. In other words, which of these insights can be used to address your research objective?

Identifying actionable insights allows us to communicate significant findings from our study to decision-makers within our organization and present them with answers and next steps. As marketing researchers, our ultimate goal is to help solve marketing problems. Inherent in problem-solving is action!


Actionable insights allow us to be proactive rather than reactive. They inform our evaluation of new opportunities, help to mitigate the risks associated with decision-making, etc. So, when devising goals for your own company, forget about being just data-driven: be insights-driven!

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Have you ever had to make a big decision in the dark? How might coming up with actionable insights have helped?

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