Let Big Data Help You Make Better Decisions

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In the recent Gleanster Research paper, “The New Rules of Digital Engagement,” analyst Ian Michiels discusses the evolution of data, and offers suggestions for managing marketing data.

“While it may not be a key line item on the 2013 marketing strategy, big data has the potential to profoundly impact the way marketers justify investments in technology and optimize marketing execution,” says Michiels. Today customer data is the number one catalyst for big data initiatives – and marketers have the most to gain from better use of customer data.

“Big data” has a lot of blurry definitions. Wikipedia says: “…a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process.” That’s a bit intimidating, but the thing to remember is you only have to work with part of it. As Rick Smolan, author of The Human Face of Big Data describes Big Data: “…imagine if your whole life you had been looking through one eye and all of a sudden for the first time in your life you were able to open up a second eye. You’re not just getting more data. You’re not getting more vision. You’re getting a new dimension, an entirely new way of seeing what was right in front of you.”

For this data marketing discussion, we’re talking about the volume of data the average organization collects on a daily basis, such as web analytics data, customer purchase data, marketing campaign results, social media interactions, customer segments, behavioral attributes and demographics – all growing exponentially. Here are a few pointers for managing this data:

  • Integrate your data. Using disparate marketing technology tools (such as web analytics, email marketing, landing page hosting, social media marketing, list management, etc.) delivers disparate results. If your results aren’t integrated you won’t get the whole picture…and what’s missing might be important. Technology (marketing automation in particular) is your friend here.
  • Use automated business rules and trigger emails. Hardware and software exists that aligns structured and unstructured data from different systems and makes it accessible for marketers. If the data exists, then business rules can be applied to that data to trigger highly relevant communications.
  • Use data to make decisions. Campaign results, customer segment behaviors, conversions at various places in the funnel. Use the data you get to evaluate program success, scrap or revise things that aren’t working, and shape communications to customers.
  • Hire someone who delights in numbers. Even (or perhaps especially) if you’re a marketer who hates numbers – learn to hire, manage, and work with people who get numbers and are good with them. You need these skills in your department (or available to you) to help you justify your investments and interpret your results.
  • Learn how to make the business case for technology investment. Digital marketing has made it possible to quantify many aspects of marketing, and that’s data the C-suite wants to see. Looking forward, CMOs and CIOs need to start developing a 3-5 year roadmap for marketing technology investments. If you report to a CMO or VP of marketing, contribute by identifying the technologies that can accelerate results or save labor, and know how to talk about them in terms of return on investment and total cost of ownership.

Speaking of The Human Face of Big Data: It’s a book; it’s also a globally crowdsourced media project focusing on humanity’s new ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time. You can join the project by downloading an app (for iOS or Android) that will show you how you compare to millions of other people and who your Digital Doppelganger is; map your daily footprints, and much more. Here’s a snapshot of one moment in time:

Human Face of Big Data

For more insight from the Gleanster report, download “The New Rules of Digital Engagement” today.

And let us know if you join the Human Face project, and how it goes.