Decoding the complexity: how do you turn insight into actionable marketing outputs?


By Ed Layt

In marketing, insight is important. Crucial in fact. Without an understanding of the markets we operate in and the audiences we engage, how can we possibly devise effective strategies that deliver value?

But in a world where data and testimony are available in abundance, it can be easy for these to overcomplicate and cloud our thinking, instead of bringing clarity.

So, what makes good insight? And when we have it, how do we ensure it drives change that delivers value?

Here are a few tips that we use when working with our clients.

Gather with intent

It’s all too easy to collect more data, more sources and more inputs without turning them into insight. It’s a common issue we see where potentially valuable datasets end up sitting in someone’s inbox for analysis and interpretation – but time is never found to decode the complexity. And insight is missed because the inputs are never joined up to build a robust picture and uncover genuine opportunities (and risks). So, ensure when you’re buying data or commissioning research you do it with intent. Have a clear idea of who will work with the raw data, who will interpret it and for what purpose.


Purpose is key as without it, choosing the right research and analysis methodologies is extremely difficult. And if you get these wrong, you’ll probably end up with some interesting insight, but difficult to implement any action from it. For example, when looking at quantitative data why would you need 300 different charts showing you different cuts and views of a single dataset, when the right one will tell you everything you need to know to solve your challenge. Or for another example take audience personas, why do you need to know if your applicants prefer cats or dogs, when really all you care about is what social channels they use and how frequently the want to be contacted. Ask questions and perform analysis aligned to your purpose.


Good insight often comes from simplicity. Ignore what’s not relevant. If it won’t help with your problem, leave it to one side – no matter how tempting it is. And use analysis methodologies that are simple to start with. You can always build complexity over time. Simplicity and brevity can often be your friend when it comes to sharing insights too. Infographics are great for doing this, but be careful not to overload on visuals, their simplicity can quickly start to cause confusion!


If you follow these rules of intent, purpose and simplicity, you’ll stand a great chance of ending up with insight that’s directly aligned to your needs and subsequently, much clearer to establish a relationship between what it’s telling you and what you need to do next.