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What’s the Difference Between Internal and External Data?

In the digital age of marketing, data is your business's most valuable resource. The information gleaned through data collection and analysis can help you evaluate your company’s performance on all fronts. 


When making critical financial decisions, data can help you to choose the options that will help to increase your revenue and cut costs. When making personnel decisions, data can help you to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. When making branding decisions, data can help you to speak directly to your target audience and bring in the right clients. 


If you plan on using data to make well-informed decisions for your business, it is important to know what kinds of data are available to you. While there are many kinds of data that can be analyzed, they all fall into one of two categories: internal and external. 

What Is Internal Data? 

Internal data is facts and information that come directly from the company’s systems and are specific to the company in question. In almost every case, internal data cannot be accessed and studied by outside parties without the express permission of the business entity. 


Internal data provides a look into the company’s current practices and their effectiveness. Collected from sources like website KPIs and customer surveys, internal data is an invaluable tool for evaluating company policies, products and branding, and employee productivity. 

Common Types of Internal Data

Companies rarely look at just one type of internal data. Each kind of internal data provides a different look into the inner workings of the company. To get a well-rounded understanding of your company, it’s best to collect all three kinds of data for analysis.

Sales Data 

Sales data comes from any measurable part of the sales process. This data is most helpful when making decisions regarding marketing and profitability. Sales data can include: 


  • Revenue;
  • Distribution channels;
  • Price points;
  • Customer surveys;
  • Social media impressions; 
  • Website and online store analytics.


These types of data all come together to give you a clear picture of your sales process. 


With this data, you can analyze which social media platforms are doing the most work to bring in customers. You can shift your prices to better reflect a price range customers are willing to spend in the current market. You can put together a series of well-rounded profiles on the customers you serve and what they are looking for in the buying experience. 

Financial Data

Financial data is information and facts connected to the financial side of a business’s operations. This kind of data is used when making any kind of budgeting decisions for the business. Financial data can include information such as: 


  • Cash flow reports;
  • Expense reports;
  • Productions reports.


When looking at financial data, you aren’t just looking at what is bringing money into the business. You are also looking at where the company is losing money or where any profit growth has stagnated. 


Financial data can be analyzed regularly over a variety of different time increments. If you want to know what time is best for sales, then you may benefit from looking at daily reports. If you want to see the ebb and flow of your profit margins over time, it’s better to collect financial data to analyze over several quarters or years. 

Human Resources Data

While sales data focuses on the company’s interactions with customers, human resources data focuses on the company’s interactions with its employees. This data can be used to make decisions involving company culture, policies, and employee training schedules. Human resources data can include information such as: 


  • Onboarding metrics;
  • Employee satisfaction rates;
  • Exit interviews.


Human resources data allows you to see what policies work (and which ones don’t). While company leadership and human resources staff work very hard to establish best practices and company policies, it’s important to reevaluate those policies regularly. Human resources data can show you if those policies are having a positive effect on recruitment, retention, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. 

How To Use Internal Data

Internal data can be used by every department within a company. From sales to human resources to finance to technology, internal data provides everyone with better insight into the inner workings of the company. 


However, your target market. 

Search Engine Data

Thanks to the internet, most information can be found online. Further, search engines are used as a tool for most to find any kind of information. They allow people to pose questions and find information related to these queries. Since search engines are used regularly in the daily lives of customers across the globe, there is plenty of search data to be found, including: 


  • Keywords;
  • Search volume for those keywords;
  • Trends in search;
  • And search engagement. 


Companies can use search engine data to mold their marketing and engagement strategies. By understanding trends in search engine data, companies can create content for their websites that targets specific keywords and allows users to find their organization through search engines.

How To Use External Data

While internal data allows you to see how your company is interacting with its employees, the market, and the individual customer, external data allows you to see how your company fits into the global zeitgeist. It can help you learn about the competitive landscape and your company’s reputation. It can even provide insight into different economic, social, or political trends that may impact your business.

You can use external data for a wide variety of purposes; it simply depends on the type of external data you gather and how you analyze it. For instance, using a software solution to analyze risk data will help you make sense of the challenges your business may face and how you can mitigate them. Gathering and examining data from social media, however, will be more useful for guiding your future marketing activities.

Ultimately, you need to use both internal and external data in a way that supports the unique needs and goals of your organization. for this data to be useful, it must be properly organized and easily accessible to the people who analyze it. Having too much data can be overwhelming — especially if it’s outdated or inaccurate — which can make this otherwise valuable resource difficult to use.

If an employee is working on a report on risk management, then they need to be able to access risk management data through a reliable information system. If they are working on claims management, then they need to be able to access claims management data through a reliable information system. No matter what kind of data it is, storing it in a centralized location will make it easy for your employees to access and organize the information they need. 

What Is External Data?

External data is information that originates outside the company and is readily available to the public. External data is used to help a company develop a better understanding of the world in which they are operating. Financial trends, customer demographics, online search queries, and more all help a company find the best ways to grow and reach its target market. 


External data is a great tool for those looking to study their customer base or make well-informed strategic decisions.

Common Types of External Data

There are several different types of external data available to you. By using data from the government, social media, and popular search engines, you can not only understand where your company currently stands but also what direction it should move in the future. 

Government Data

The government collects a wide range of data to better serve citizens. Different departments hold data on nationwide demographics such as age, race, socioeconomic standing, and other characteristics. Employment rates, salary ranges, and levels of education are also available. 


This information, often collected through efforts such as the census, provides businesses with vital information about the current market and future trends. 

Social Media Data

Social media is an endless source of publicly available information for businesses. Users provide personal information, follow accounts and businesses they resonate with, and interact with people from around the world. The information provided by social media data includes: 


  • Likes;
  • Mentions;
  • Hashtag usage;
  • Views and impressions.


Social media can heavily influence your company’s marketing strategy. Through the analysis of social media data, you can access the minds of the people who make up

Apr 11, 2022

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