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Marketing Strategy: Evaluating Sources

This guide is your link between the Marketing Strategy course and the CVTC Library!

Evaluating Secondary Data & Research

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Secondary Data

Consider the following six questions when evaluating the next data you find before using the results in your own business decisions.

What was the research provider’s purpose in presenting the data? Based on why the data is presented, the provider might have had a biased reason to post the information. Commercial businesses and even political parties post information online that might favor them in some way or represent their own interests. Because of this, the information you believe will help your company might not be 100% accurate.

Who collected the data? Reliability of data can be impacted by who collected it. Data from a government agency is going to be much more reliable than data found on a personal website or blog. With market research reports, make sure you are digging deep to find out which publishers are involved to ensure you are not paying for false external secondary data.

When was the data collected? Time is one of the most important aspects of accuracy. If you are researching the hottest food trends for your restaurant, trend analysis from three years ago will not help you. Check the dates on all of your data so you know you have the newest and most relevant information available.

How was the data collected? This is especially important when using data directly related to consumer’s opinions and needs. If you know how the information was collected, then you will be able to tell which methods were used. This can also inform you if the data is related to the population you need knowledge on.

What type of data was collected? Not all of the secondary data you read is going to be applicable to your research goals. If you need data on mobile internet usage, a report on all internet usage is going to be too broad for your specific needs. There are research specialists you can partner up with to ensure the reports you want to purchase are going to be effective in answering your market research questions.

Is the data consistent with data from other sources? If you happen to see specific facts varying from source to source, you need to research which answers are most accurate. Utilizing external data is only going to benefit you if it is correct. Take the time to check that your source is reliable so you can trust the data they are providing you.

Asking these six questions is going to help you in making sure you use the most accurate data for your business needs. We all can search for data online today, but getting reliable data is the difference between making a successful or unsuccessful business decision.


Stewart, Caitlin. "How to Evaluate External Secondary Data.", (06 05 2014): n. pag. Print. 20 September 2016.