Secondary Data: advantages, disadvantages, sources, and types



If you understand the benefits and drawbacks of secondary data, you may make well-informed judgments and develop future-focused initiatives.
Secondary data sources can help you optimise your current and future results regardless of your field of work, be it business, marketing, research, or statistics.

Let’s see how


Secondary data are information that has already been gathered for another purpose, but is still relevant to your current research.
In other words, someone else has already collected it in the past, not you. You can now utilise the data.
Secondary data is information obtained from a secondary source. It is not the first time it has been utilised. This is why it is referred to as secondary.
Typically, secondary data can be found in Internet, library, and report resources.

The most popular examples of secondary data include Web information, corporate reports, mass media goods, encyclopaedias, and government statistics.


Advantages of Secondary Data: Accessibility
The secondary data sources are exceptionally accessible. The Internet has altered how secondary research is conducted. Today, you may get so much information just by clicking the mouse.

Low cost or gratis
The vast majority of secondary sources are available at no cost or for a little fee. It saves not just money but also time and effort. In contrast to primary research, which requires you to develop and conduct a whole primary study procedure from scratch, secondary research allows you to collect data without spending any money. (read more about primary versus secondary data on our blog)

As the preceding advantage shows, secondary research can be conducted quickly. Occasionally, it is sufficient to perform a few Google searches to locate a data source.
Enable the generation of new insights from prior analysis
Reanalyzing old data might yield unexpected new insights and perspectives, as well as fresh applicable findings.

Longitudinal analysis
Secondary data enables longitudinal analysis, i.e., investigations conducted over an extended time period. This might help you identify certain trends. In addition, secondary data from many years ago to a few hours ago is accessible. It permits the comparison of data throughout time.
Anyone is permitted to collect data
Secondary data research can be conducted by those unfamiliar with the various data collection techniques. It is practically accessible to everyone.

A vast quantity of secondary data from numerous sources.
It is the most comprehensive type of information available from a wide variety of sources and subjects.
May not be specifically tailored to your needs
Due to the fact that information was acquired for a different purpose in the past, secondary data is not specific to the researcher’s needs. Therefore, the secondary data may not be reliable for your current purposes. Secondary data sources might provide an abundance of information, but quantity does not always equate to relevance.

You have no control over data quality
The secondary data may be of inferior quality. The information’s source may be suspect, especially if it was obtained via the Internet. As you rely on secondary data for data-driven decision making, you must evaluate the information’s reliability by determining how it was obtained and evaluated.

As secondary data is obtained by someone other than you, it is often skewed in favour of the one who collected it. This may not meet your needs as a marketer or researcher.

Not prompt
Secondary data were obtained in the past, therefore they may be out of current. This issue can be relevant in a variety of circumstances.

You do not possess the information.
Typically, secondary data is not acquired with your organisation in mind. Instead, it is provided to numerous businesses and individuals for free or a nominal price. Consequently, this is not really a “competitive advantage” Current and prospective competitors have access to the information.


There are two categories of secondary data, depending on the source of the data:
Internal data sources: information acquired within the researcher’s firm or company (examples – a database with customer details, sales reports, marketing analysis, your emails, your social media profiles, etc).
External data sources: information collected outside the organisation (i.e. government statistics, mass media channels, newspapers, etc.)
Moreover, secondary data might be of two forms, based on the research methods:
Quantitative data — information that can be expressed numerically or quantitatively. Examples: a person’s weight and height, the amount of working hours, the monthly sales volume, etc. Quantitative data are easily accessible to statistical manipulation.
Qualitative data — information that cannot be expressed numerically or quantified. Instead of numbers, qualitative data consist of words, images, observations, and symbols. It pertains to attributes. Examples include eye colour (brown, blue, green), socioeconomic level, and customer happiness.



Sources Internal To Secondary Data
Your firm or organisation may have a wealth of data that is not being utilised.
All organisations, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, collect data as part of their daily operations. Orders are executed, costs and sales are recorded, product-related enquiries from customers are sent, and so forth.

The majority of this information is useful for your research. They may have surprising and hidden worth for you.

Here is a collection of common and obscure internal information sources:
1. Sales data
Sales are crucial to a business’s prosperity.
Sales statistics include revenue, profitability, price, distribution methods, buyer personas, etc. This data can reveal your strengths and weaknesses, which will impact your future decisions.
2. Finance data
Profits can be maximised by gathering and analysing financial information. Examples of financial data include overhead and production expenses, cash flow reports, amounts spent on product manufacturing, etc.
3. General marketing data
Marketing departments are a treasure trove of secondary data sources.
Reports on customer profiles, market segmentation, customer happiness, brand recognition, customer engagement through content marketing, customer retention and loyalty, etc., are examples of marketing data.

Human resource information

Human resource departments have information regarding the costs to recruit and train an employee, staff retention rate and turnover, individual employee productivity, etc.
Human resource data can assist you identify areas in which a firm needs to strengthen its HR operations in order to empower the skills, talents, and accomplishments of its employees.
Customer relationship management (CRM software)
Additionally, businesses can collect and analyse data using their CRM system.

This system is an excellent source of secondary data, such as client associations, regional or geographical information, and so on.
6. Emails
The ordinary office worker sends and receives dozens of business emails per day.
As secondary data sources, emails give vital information such as product reviews, opinions, and feedback, etc.

Your social networking profiles

Social Media profiles on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are a rich source of data that can be analysed to learn more about, for instance, how people discuss your brand and how users share and interact with your content.
You can collect the following secondary data from social profiles: likes, shares, mentions, impressions, new followers, comments, and URL clicks.

Your website’s statistics

You have access to a vast number of relevant secondary data through your website analytics software.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the most common platforms for analysing your website’s statistics.
You can collect the following information from your website: visitor’s location, visitor’s behaviour patterns, keywords used by visitors to find your site and business, visitor’s actions on the site, most popular content, etc.

External Secondary Data Sources

External data are any data generated outside of the firm or organization’s limits.
There are numerous benefits to obtaining secondary data from external sources, particularly online sources. They provide access to an abundance of information that may be acquired simply and rapidly.

Today, external secondary data provide the basis for making executive judgments in business, medicine, science, and statistics alike.
Here are some examples of external secondary data that are very noteworthy.

1. offers over 150,000 free datasets from federal, state, and local agencies. They are available for free online.
Here, businesses and students can find a wealth of information on consumers, education, manufacturing, and public safety, among other topics.

2. World Bank Open Data
Global Bank Open Data provide free and public access to data on global development. Global population demographics and an abundance of economic indicators are provided through datasets.

3. IMF Economic Data
189 countries are members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It offers information including international financial statistics, regional economic reports, foreign currency rates, debt rates, commodities prices, and investments.

4. Free Crayon Intel
Crayon Intel Free is one of the greatest free competitor analysis tools that allows you to track, evaluate, and take action on a variety of external events.
Free Talkwalker Social Search
Talkwalker’s Free Social Search is a real-time, free social media search engine that enables you to conduct an infinite number of searches across the most popular social networks.
It enables you to quickly discover what the internet is saying about you or your rivals. With realtime audience insights, you can determine who is talking about you.

6. Feedly
Feedly is a free news aggregator website that enables you to stay current on all the topics that are important to you. All in one location.
With Feedly, you can simply monitor news about your products, competitors, and other relevant posts, Tweets, and YouTube videos.

7. Mailcharts
Mailcharts is a highly effective tool for both email marketers and those who like to spy on the competitors.
It gathers email addresses from competing campaigns to aid in the development of your own. Mailhcharts contains an extensive database of emails from numerous brands.

8. Glassdoor
Glassdoor is among the largest and most popular job and recruiting websites in the world. It offers a free database with millions of firm reviews, CEO approval ratings, interview reviews and questions, pay reports, benefits reviews, workplace photographs, and more.
Google Alerts Google Alerts is one of the most prominent free alert services that allows you to track mentions of virtually anything on the internet, such as your company, brand, consumers, and shopping trends.

10. HubSpot Marketing Statistical Information
HubSpot provides a big and extremely valuable free marketing data library.
You may find the most recent marketing data and trends in categories such as Organic Search, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), Ecomerce, Local SEO, and Mobile Search.

Crunchbase 11.
Crunchbase is one of the most inventive and effective tools for locating business information regarding private and public companies.
Crunchbase data includes information on investments and funding, news and industry trends, industry leaders, mergers, etc.


For many firms, secondary data sources are crucial for gathering information about their clients in order to better serve them.
We live in the age of big data. Knowing the advantages and limitations of secondary data enables all levels and types of management to make better decisions.
It provides a solid foundation for generating new opportunities, conducting data-driven marketing, and enhancing results and performance.

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