What does Big Data Mean for Marketing Teams?

To say that business data is increasing at a rapid pace would clearly be an understatement.

cloud-hoskinsAccording to the Aberdeen Group’s recent report there has been a:
• 29% growth year-over-year reported in December 2009
• 30% growth reported in February 2011
• 38% growth reported in January 2012
• 55% growth reported in December 2012

But what does this significant growth in data – what is now being referred to as ‘Big Data’ – mean for marketing teams? Can it be used effectively to increase leads and drive revenue? If yes, how?

For Marketing Teams, ‘Big Data’ takes the shape of the incredible amount of digital content that is being created at a phenomenal rate – this growth is even more apparent when one takes into consideration all the social media platforms that customers are active on, the Facebook likes and interactions, YouTube videos and LinkedIn discussions.

To complicate matters, most of this data is in an unstructured format – images, videos, social media posts and conversations, all of which do not easily lend themselves to be stored in the standard rows-and-columns format.

Fortunately, tools are now emerging to handle these different forms of information and to use these data-sets to discover hidden intelligence; not only about the sentiment of current and prospective customers, their perception about the organisation, but also about what they are most likely to do next.

These powerful technologies are creating new and innovative opportunities to gather in-depth insights through which one can better understand the outcome of customer interaction and the overall experience.  As a result, these technologies have become a critical tool through which  marketers can understand today’s customer and in this way ensure success in a constantly-shifting digital landscape.

So how can Marketing Teams make the most out of ‘Big Data’? Industry experts suggest:

1. Building a Data Driven Marketing Team

Many marketers nowadays are left confused by ‘Big Data’ and believe that it has yet to make a real impact upon business goals. Hubspot provides 11 tips to help cultivate a team of data-driven marketers:

  1.  Put the right analytics in place
  2.  Assign specific metrics to individual marketers
  3.  Establish benchmarks
  4.  Set metrics-driven goals
  5.  Report on progress toward goals regularly
  6.  Back up marketing decisions with data
  7.  Find ways to measure ‘unmeasurable’ metrics
  8.  Reward record-setting achievements
  9.  Use data in content creation
  10.  Leverage A/B testing
  11.  Share data-driven research with the rest of your team/business

2. Determining what is required from ‘Big Data’

It’s important that the organisation establishes a few clear objectives of what is required out of ‘Big Data’.

According to the Aberdeen Group, marketers’ top three priorities are:

a. Improving targeting of marketing offers (targeting the right person, through the right channel, at the right time, with the right message) – 52%
b. Aligning overall marketing activities with specific sales goals and objectives – 43%
c. Gaining insight about the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns and channels – 39%

3. Integrating Business Discovery Tools to Gain Holistic Marketing Insights

With ‘Big Data’, the data itself and the structure of that data are both constantly changing, often in unexpected ways. With the right tools in hand, Marketing Teams should be able to access structured and unstructured data sources to obtain relevant, actionable insights.

With QlikView, for example, this is not only possible, but also highly intuitive. Data is presented as an associative experience – in fact it has been compared to a fiber-optic spider web, where everything is connected. Pulling on one thread, or making a selection, lights up the related elements in other fields, revealing new paths through the data as well as new kinds of connections.

As a result, the Marketing Team will be able to easily tap into ‘Big Data’ and visualise the relevant analytics to obtain marketing insights. The integration of a CRM system should serve to provide an even higher level of insight.

4. Using ‘Big Data’ to Predict Customer Behaviour

Once the organisation gets a grip on all the data, it will be able to make the most out of it to predict what customers are likely to do in the future. It can then use the insights that have been gathered regarding customer purchasing patterns and behaviours, to direct the right marketing messages to customers.


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