Data is everywhere: in spreadsheets, sales statistics, customer surveys, customer support tickets, and more. In our modern information age it’s created at blinding speeds and, when used correctly, can be a company’s most valuable asset. Some of it you may not have even realized you can access.
Data analysis is the process of cleaning and organizing data, then running it through models to extract useful information and insights. Proper data analysis allows companies to make truly informed decisions.
But you need to know how to do it correctly. What are the best analysis methods to decide the correct course of action? There are a number of useful data analysis techniques for both quantitative and qualitative data, which we’ll go into more detail about below. Then, we’ll provide some real-life examples of how data analysis is used in forward-thinking businesses.
Top 6 Data Analysis Techniques
There are many useful types of data analysis for both quantitative and qualitative data. The six main examples of data analysis are:
- Descriptive Analysis
- Inferential Analysis
- Diagnostic Analysis
- Text Analysis
- Predictive Analysis
- Prescriptive Analysis
Descriptive data analysis provides the “What happened?” when analyzing quantitative data. It is the most basic and most common form of data analysis concerned with describing, summarizing, and identifying patterns through calculations of existing data, like mean, median, mode, percentage, frequency, and range.
Descriptive analysis is usually the baseline from which other data analysis begins. It is, no doubt, very useful for producing things like revenue reports and KPI dashboards. However, as it is only concerned with statistical analysis and absolute numbers, it can’t provide the reason or motivation for why and how those numbers developed.
Inferential analysis generalizes or hypothesizes about “What happened?” by comparing statistics from groups within an entire population: the population of a country, existing customer base, patients in a medical study, etc. The most common methods for conducting inferential statistics are hypothesis tests and estimation theories.
Inferential analysis is used widely in market research, to compare two variables in an attempt to reach a conclusion: money spent by female customers vs. male or among different age groups, for example. Or it can be used to survey a sample set of the population in an attempt to extrapolate information about the entire population. In this case it is necessary to properly calculate for a representative sample of the population.
Diagnostic analysis aims to answer “Why did ____ happen?” Also called root cause analysis it uses insights from statistical analysis to attempt to understand the cause of or reason behind these statistics. It identifies patterns or deviations within the data to answer for why.
Diagnostic analysis can be helpful to understand customer behavior, to find out which marketing campaigns actually increase sales, for example. Or let’s say you notice a sudden decrease in customer complaints: Why did this happen?
Perhaps you fired a certain employee or hired new ones. Maybe you have a new online interface or added a particular product feature. Diagnostic analysis can help calculate the correlation between these possible causes and existing data points.
Text analysis, also called text analytics or data mining, uses machine learning with natural language processing (NLP) to organize unstructured text data, so that it can be properly analyzed for valuable insights. Text analysis is a form of qualitative analysis that is concerned with more than just statistics and numerical values.
By transforming human language into machine-readable data, text analysis tools can sort text by topic, extract keywords, and read for emotion and intent. It tells us “What is happening” as specific, often subjective data. It offers more in-depth and targeted views into why something may be happening, or why something happened.
Predictive analysis uses known data to postulate about future events. It is concerned with “What is likely to happen.” Used in sales analysis, it often combines demographic data and purchase data with other data points to predict the actions of customers.
For example, as the demographics of a certain area change, this will affect the ability of certain businesses to exist there. Or as the salary of a certain customer increases, theoretically, they will be able to buy more of your products. There is often a lot of extrapolative guesswork involved in predictive analysis, but the more data points you have on a given demographic or individual customer, the more accurate the prediction is likely to be.
Prescriptive analysis is the most advanced form of analysis, as it combines all of your data and analytics, then outputs a model prescription: What action to take. Prescriptive analysis works to analyze multiple scenarios, predict the outcome of each, and decide which is the best course of action based on the findings.
Artificial intelligence is an example of prescriptive analysis that’s at the cutting edge of data analysis. AI allows for prescriptive analysis that can ingest and break down massive amounts of data and effectively teach itself how to use the information and make its own informed decisions. AI requires huge computing power, so it can be difficult to implement for some organizations, but the increased performance of SaaS machine learning tools can offer easy-to-use solutions for many businesses.
Data Analysis Examples & Use Cases
Data analysis can be said to go back at least around 5000 years to Sumerian population censuses, but until fairly recently it was mostly concerned with quantitative data. However, with advanced, computer-aided tools, businesses can now analyze qualitative data for even more powerful insights. Take a look at these real-world applications of data analysis.
Some of the top applications for data analysis:
- Automatically analyze survey responses with text analysis
- Analyze customer support tickets and automatically route them
- Categorize potential customers
- Examine the success of marketing campaigns
- Predict customer churn
Automatically analyze survey responses
Text analysis allows you to conduct surveys aimed at qualitative results, beyond simple Yes/No or multiple choice questions. You can ask open-ended questions, have them organized by subject or theme, and automatically analyzed for the opinion and feeling of the responder.
Take this Anstice case study for example, where nearly 12,000 multi-paragraph responses were run through MonkeyLearn, a SaaS text analysis platform that offers a number of AI-guided tools to gather information and perceptions to deliver powerful insights.
Save hundreds of employee hours and learn how to analyze survey responses with tools you already use, like Excel.
Analyze customer support tickets and automatically route them
Advanced data analysis tools can automatically read through customer support tickets, whether from chat bots, emails, phone calls, etc., rate them for urgency, and automatically route them to the correct department or individual employee.
In this case study, Archer, a tech-based financial services company, needed to respond quickly to customer inquiries due to their time-sensitive nature. By training a topic classification model to their precise needs, Archer was able to increase initial response time by 65% and increase the ticket volume of each employee by 20%.
Categorize potential customers
Using customer analysis techniques, like survey analysis, inferential and diagnostic analysis, and social listening (real-time social media analysis), you can identify and understand your current customers. Then break them into subgroups, identify how your products meet their needs, and use the data to build prescriptive analysis models and locate new potential customers.
Text analysis tools, like keyword extraction, can dig into granular insights about your customer base to follow subjects and themes, and discover new topics, right as they emerge.
Examine the success or failure of marketing campaigns
Use diagnostic analysis to understand why certain marketing campaigns work and others don’t. You can use text analysis to follow real-time reactions to your campaigns on social media or online reviews.
What are the keywords used to describe your brand and your products, and how do they change over time? Analyze your customer service tickets to understand how they may relate to individual campaigns. Or monitor social media to maximize your customer engagement.
Predict customer churn
Use predictive analysis to calculate for customer churn by analyzing demographic and purchase data. Are your main customers aging out of your brand? Or are demographics changing in a geographic area where your business is high? When you use predictive analysis to keep a constant eye on your customers you can pivot your business to avoid churn or locate a potential new location for growth.
There is almost no end to the possibilities of data analysis when you know how to do it right. Whether quantitative or qualitative, there are a number of analytical solutions and pathways to get real insights from your data. It’s important to first understand what you want to find out, either about your brand or your customers.
Performing text analysis on your unstructured text data can offer huge advantages and potential advancements for your company, whether it comes from social media, emails, business reports, customer service tickets – the list goes on and on. There is a wealth of information to be gathered from text data you may not have even considered.
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