What’s The Difference Between Data and Information?

Data is far and away the most valuable commodity in the world today. Does that mean that information is just as valuable? While perception is reality, data is a way to quantify differing perceptions of reality into tangible, meaningful conclusions. For example, you might perceive Fridays as the busiest days for your small business. Data is the only way to draw that conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. From that data, you can glean information, which then distills into insights, which you can then use to articulate your marketing strategy. 

Why Does Data Matter?

an icon showing data and information on a computerIn a nutshell, data is a collection of numbers or facts that have the potential to provide information. Information, on the other hand, is data that has been transformed or combined with other data in a manner that makes them useful to decision-makers. 

According to IDC, a marketing intelligence company, as of 2018, there were over 18 zettabytes of data in existence. As such, data on its own, or at face value, is nigh negligible. Even with all the data in the world, it is impossible to know everything about any given topic. 

Where data really matters is in its utility to be converted to information. One must transform or combine data with other data in order for it to become useful. That’s why it’s so important to collect data regularly; data from one day is a reference point for data from another day.

Furthermore, the more specific the data, the more specific conclusions can be gleaned from it. At the same time, workable conclusions are contingent upon accurate, quality data. If your data is scant or low quality, you should expect any related conclusions to be just as scant and low quality. 

Why Does Information Matter?

With regards to your business, the data and information you collect on your customers’ shopping habits is instrumental to developing not only an effective marketing strategy but an effective business strategy. In other words, the more you can do to understand your customers, the more you can provide for them. 

a collection of data and information on charts and graphsThat’s why you see surveys as such an integral component of business communication. In health care especially, patient surveys are a critical way to understand the emotional pathology behind the patient’s decision to select, and ultimately remain with, that particular provider.

While customer information is arguably the most important information to collect and analyze, it’s important to review your competition as well. The more you know about your competition, how they think and act, and how your customers think and act in relation to the competition, the better you can adapt to focus on advertising your brand or business’s competitive advantage. 

How to Use Data and Information to Grow Your Business

Your brand’s web presence provides ample opportunities for data collection. At the same time, knowing the difference between big data and thick data is as important as knowing your target market. While thick data is immense, thick data is contextualized. With thick data, a smaller, more concise swath of data leads to more meaningful, and accurate, conclusions.

Flat design illustration concepts for creative process, big data filter, data tunnel, analysis conceptFrom a marketing perspective, thick data is many times more valuable than big data. Thick data allows us to focus on smaller demographics and collect more relatable, meaningful conclusions. Big data is quantitative, while thick data is qualitative. 

The important distinction is figuring out not only how the data applies to your business, your customers, your environment, and your situation as a whole, but how to make adjustments to your strategy based on how it has fared in the past. 

While you shouldn’t become obsessed or uber-reliant on data, it is an important tool that shouldn’t be wasted. Keep regular tabs on how your customers interact with your digital presence. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Pay attention to what your customers have to say and don’t be afraid to change!

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