The Difference Between Data, Analytics, and Insights

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Data, analytics, and insights. Those words are thrown around a lot, but what do they really mean, and how do they relate to one another?

We’re sharing some insights of our own to show you exactly how this triad works.

Data, Analytics, & Insights: How Are They Connected?

Data and analytics build off of each other to deliver deep understanding, or insights, into your user base. Insights provide essential wisdom about your users and reveals actions you can take to better your business. However, these insights cannot be obtained without analytics, and analytics is useless without data.

Think of the three as a step-by-step list for understanding your customers:

  • Step 1. Collect data
  • Step 2. Apply analytics
  • Step 3. Interpret insights

Building off of the rock-solid foundation of your own data, you can use analytics and resulting insights to grow and develop your business.

What Is Data?

Data is the information you obtain from users, such as demographic info, behavior, and activity.

Today, we have access to more data than ever before. In fact, more data has been created in the last two years than in the entire history of the human race!

With so many ways to connect to and access the internet, data collection and storage has become increasingly challenging. Big data is the new norm as businesses collect user data across a multitude of channels including apps, email, and web browsing.

Despite this overwhelming multitude of data, it’s extremely difficult to make any sense of pure data points.

In many ways, you can think of the relationship between data, analytics, and insights as you might think of an impressionist painting. If you were to stand directly in front of an impressionist painting (such as The Cliff Of Aval Etretat by Claude Monet) at only a foot or so away, you would likely only be able to see thousands upon thousands of dots, smears, or marks that do not make any discernable shape. You can think of these dots as your data - there’s tons of them all around you, but individually your data points don’t really say or mean much.

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What is Analytics?

Analytics is the discovery of patterns and trends gleaned from your data.

Data is more or less useless nonsense without analytics. Analytics is how you make sense of your data and uncover meaningful trends. There is tremendous value buried in those massive data sets, but apps and other businesses are unable to unlock that value without the help of analytics.

For a mobile app, your data might tell you that you sent 14,000 push messages last month. That data alone doesn’t mean all that much, but an analytics tool could dig through that data and reveal that your app sent 3.7 messages per user, with an open rate of 20%. Now your data is starting to work for you!

To continue our painting analogy, analytics is what you see when you step back several yards from that impressionist painting. Stepping back, you’ll suddenly be able to see figures and forms that you could not see at a closer distance. Only when you apply distance will the painting “make sense,” and similarly, analytics is what provides the bird's eye view into making sense of your data.  

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What are Insights?

Insight is the value obtained through the use of analytics. The insights gained through analytics are incredible powerful, and can be used to grow your business while identifying areas of opportunity.

If we continue with our mobile app example, insights might show that sending those 3.7 push messages per user resulted in a 14% increase in purchases. Now you know that your push campaigns are effective, you can continue to test new variations and optimize to boost purchases even further.

Insights provide the “ah-ha” light bulb that sparks smart new marketing movements, powerful new app features, or streamlined UX designs.

If we were to continue our painting metaphor, insights are interpretations you gather from an impressionist painting once you’ve stepped back. Now that you can discern figures and shapes, you can gain a deeper understanding of what the painting is about and what message the artist is trying to convey.

The True Power of Insights-Driven Marketing

The real value of data and analytics lie in their ability to deliver rich insights. You can have mountains of data points, but you need to be able to digest and organize that data in a way that allows you to pull out valuable insights, or else it’s all worthless.

The best insights are actionable and prescriptive - they can be used to take immediate action that will improve your business and will inform your future path.

Let’s take a look at a real-world example - imagine that you have an ecommerce app:

  • Data might show that your users had 2,000 sessions in the past 30 days.
  • Analytics could show you how many sessions occurred on iPhones in the UK.
  • Insights could reveal that that sessions on iPhones were 20% less likely to buy.

Next, you would need to consider why those iPhone sessions result in less transactions than with other devices. It may be that the credit card form on the iPhone is not as useable, in which case your big action item would be to fix the credit card form - resulting in many more conversions!

Predictive app marketing aids in these mobile revelations, delivering instant insight to apps by showing which users are likely to churn or convert in the future based on the app’s very own data. Brands can then use these predictive insights to drive conversions and proactively prevent churn.

Lack of Insight = Lack of Engagement

Today’s mobile engagement crisis is a direct result of businesses working blindly - too many brands have been failing to leverage the data at their disposal, missing out on the resulting gems of insights. The insights delivered through data and analytics are what allows brands to intimately understand their customers and empowers them to create meaningful engagement opportunities.

Don’t miss the chance to truly know your customers - harness your data, analytics, and resulting insight to grow your business!

Have you been able to make use of your app’s data to drive insights? If not, what’s holding you back? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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