GuidesCustomer researchWhat are actionable insights?

What are actionable insights?

Last updated

15 February 2023

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

As a business owner or manager, you’ll know how important data is. It can give you insights into what is working well and what needs improvement in your business.

But data is only useful when it’s actionable, meaning you can use it to make changes that will improve your business. This is where actionable insights come in.

This article explains what actionable insights are, why they matter, the different types, and much more.

What are actionable insights?

An actionable insight is an observation or finding you can use to make decisions or changes that will positively impact your business.

By using data to inform decisions, businesses can stay ahead of their competition and make better use of their resources.

Actionable insights have some key characteristics, including the following:

  • Based on data: Looking at data is one way to get actionable insights, whether you obtain it from market research, customer surveys, or financial reports. It can reveal a lot about how your business is performing and where you need to make changes.

  • Specific: Actionable insights are specific and clear. They should identify a problem or opportunity and recommend an action.

  • Actionable: The whole point of actionable insights is to inform decision-making. To be considered actionable, you should be able to take concrete steps based on these insights.

  • Timely: Actionable insights should be based on current data. This is important because decision-makers need to be able to act on the insights while they are still relevant.

  • Relevant: Actionable insights should be relevant to the decision-maker. This means the insights should be applicable to the specific situation and context.

  • Credible: For an insight to be actionable, it needs to be credible. This means it should come from a reliable source and be based on sound data.

Why actionable insights matter

Without actionable insights, data is just numbers on a page. With them, however, data can become a powerful tool for making your business more successful.

Here are some of the benefits of actionable insights.

Making better decisions

Making better decisions is one of the most important things actionable insights can help with. By understanding the data, you can make informed decisions based on evidence rather than your gut feeling. Firstly, this can help you avoid costly mistakes, and secondly, it can help you make decisions more quickly and effectively.

Improving efficiency

Understanding what’s working and what’s not enables you to streamline processes and make them more efficient. This can save you time and money and help free up resources to focus on other areas of the business.

Better understanding your customers

Understanding your customers’ needs and wants lets you tailor your products and services to fulfill them better. Doing so can improve customer satisfaction and lead to more sales and repeat business.

Staying ahead of your competition

Being in tune with actionable insights also helps you stay ahead of your competition. Many companies pay more attention to their competition than they do to their own users. This common flaw leads to companies only being able to play catch-up.

In contrast, actionable insights allow companies to become market leaders through learning. They are always one step ahead of their users’ needs rather than their competition.

Driving growth

Finally, actionable insights can help drive growth. By understanding what’s working, you can replicate and scale successful strategies to help grow your business.

Where to get actionable insights

There’s no shortage of places to get insights these days, but here are three good examples.

Net promoter score (NPS)

A net promoter score (NPS) survey is a simple method to determine customer satisfaction and loyalty.

It seeks to find out how likely customers are to recommend your company or product to others on a scale of 0–10 (where 0 means least likely and 10 means most likely).

By asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend, you can get a good gauge of customer satisfaction. You can also ask customers why they gave the score they did. This can provide valuable feedback on what you are doing well and what needs improvement.

Ultimately, NPS is a great way to gather actionable insights from your customers.

NPS calculator

Your Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.


NPS score


NPS score

Qualitative data

You can use numerous research methods to collect qualitative data. It’s considered some of the most actionable data you can collect. It helps you focus on a customer’s motivations, obstacles, and experiences with your product or service.

This type of data is soft and open. It’s meant to help create a truthful dialogue between your company and users. You can use it to understand the “why” of anything happening in your business.

Examples of qualitative data include qualitative interviews, voice of customer surveys (VoCs), and user testing. You can also investigate online reviews and social media claims by digging deeper into their meanings.

Pulling from your own customer service team’s experiences is another quick and seamless way to help facilitate a healthy feedback loop between you and your users.

Quantitative data

What most people think of when they think of “insights” is probably more akin to quantitative data. If you’re picturing graphs, charts, and lines, then quantitative data is represented in these ways.

Qualitative data is the “what is happening” of your products and users. You can capture things like conversions, funnels, and actions and quickly see what’s working and what isn’t.

This data is more analytics-based and can be collected by tools like Google Analytics. This is a free tool that provides a ton of actionable insights about your website traffic. You can learn things like where your visitors are coming from, what pages they are looking at, and how long they are staying on your site.

In addition to analytics, survey data can also be very actionable. You can design surveys to help prioritize features, color analytical data, and verify qualitative data.

How do you convert data into actionable insights?

To convert data into actionable insights, you first need to understand what the data is telling you. This means looking at the data in different ways, such as through charts and graphs, and then interpreting what it means.

Once you understand the data well, you can start looking for patterns and trends. From there, you can start making predictions about what might happen in the future and take action accordingly.

Examples of actionable insights

Combining all these types of data is key to making your insights actionable.

Imagine you calculated your business’s NPS. Now, you would like to improve your app based on that research.

In the feedback, there were lots of comments requesting a search feature in the app, so you build and release one. However, your analytics say no one is using the search feature.

Next, you conduct some qualitative interviews with some of your more vocal social media commenters who tell you they didn’t know you released a search feature. In other words, they couldn’t find it. 

You could run a simple 1–2 question survey asking your users if they know you have a search feature using an in-app pop-up. Imagine the results say 88% of users say they can’t find it. You then tweak the design and run some user tests against it, tweaking again until you get your desired results.

You re-release the search feature and check your analytics. They now say that users are not only finding the search feature, but they are using it for everything. Your NPS shoots up to 60 with comments praising your new search feature.

A business can use actionable insights to identify areas where it should improve its performance. For example, data analysis may reveal that a company’s customer service is poor, that its products don’t meet customer needs, or that its marketing efforts are ineffective.

A business can also use actionable insights to develop new products or services or to explore new business opportunities. For example, data analysis may reveal that there’s a need for a new product or service in the market or that a company’s current products or services are not meeting customer needs.

A business can also use actionable insights to optimize its processes. For example, data analysis may reveal that a company’s manufacturing process is inefficient or that its sales process could be improved. Additionally, businesses can use actionable insights to upgrade their marketing efforts. For example, data analysis may reveal that a company’s current marketing strategy is ineffective or that its advertising is not reaching the right audience.

What’s the difference between insightful and non-insightful data?

There is a big difference between insightful and non-insightful data.

Insightful data is data that contains information that can help you improve your understanding of your business or customers. You can use this information to make better decisions and improve your business.

Non-insightful data is data that doesn’t provide any valuable insights or information. As a result, businesses can’t use it to make decisions.


The importance of actionable insights cannot be overemphasized. Without them, your business will fly blind while your competitors keep winning. So, if you want to make better business decisions that improve your bottom line, you need to find ways to gather actionable insights. If you can find ways to get more of them, you will be well on your way to success.

Learn more about qualitative insights platforms


How do you make insights more actionable?

To make insights more actionable, you need to ensure that they are relevant and timely. You also need to know you have the right people in place to act on them. Finally, you need to have a plan in place to follow up on the insights and ensure that your business implements them effectively.

How do you measure actionable insights?

To make data-driven decisions, you need to be able to measure actionable insights.

Ensuring that you’re measuring the right things is vital. This means you need to identify the key metrics that will give you the information you need to make decisions and take action.

Once you have identified the key metrics, you need to establish a process for collecting and analyzing the data. Then, you can use the data to generate insights that you can use to improve your business.

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