When it comes to the top buzzwords of 2013, the term ‘Big Data’ would have to be right up there with ‘The Cloud’, ‘Growth Hacker’ and ‘Advertainement’. But what is Big Data, and why is it so important?
The term Big Data refers to data sets that are so expansive and intricate that traditional methods of database handling are no longer sufficient. With the proliferation of high-speed internet, smart phones, cheap sensors and RFID tags, we are all creating and collecting data at a dizzying rate. Yet, no matter how much data you hoard, it’s only as valuable as the actionable knowledge that you can derive from it. The key point is that hidden within the noise of all these countless bits and bytes there are genuine insights, trends and clues that have the potential to revolutionize marketing, and Big Data is how we can extract this value. Let’s have a closer look at how Big Data is changing marketing strategies.
What Benefits Does Integrating Big Data Offer?
While it’s nice to use the latest buzzwords to impress your colleagues and astound your friends, it also pays to really understand the specifics. Here are some of the ways that Big Data can benefit inbound marketers and add new dimensions to your capabilities:
- It allows marketers to make sense out of unstructured data of the type typically generated by social media.
- It provides marketers with quantifiable, statistically significant insights into customer behavior.
- It offers the ability to analyze sentiment in real-time and forecast trends.
- It can be combined with multi-attribution marketing techniques to interact with customers at the right time, with the right message.
- Segmenting customer groups into highly accurate cohorts is now possible, opening the door for ultra-targeted marketing communications.
Developing New Marketing Strategies with the Help of Big Data
Integrating Big Data capabilities into your marketing efforts can help to create bold new strategies, and the deep-level targeting of customer groups is one of the most exciting applications: entire customer bases can be filtered, and top customers can be identified and analyzed, providing detailed profiles to facilitate the creation of personalized creative communications.
Customers can be analyzed and ranked, providing insights into what makes one cohort more receptive than another. Segments based upon geography, demographics, psychographics and behavior can be compared, potentially uncovering a particular attribute that has the greatest impact on customer value.
Analyzing huge data sets also opportunities for real-time marketing; a new strategy may involve sending out tailored communications to customers that have suddenly moved from one category to another, or targeting customer on the verge of a threshold.
Combining sentiment analysis with Big Data crunching can help inbound marketers to tailor their content strategy. Instead of trying to guess what your audience thinks is magnetic content; let them show you through their actions and habits.
Not only can Big Data inform your content strategies; it can also help you to allocate resources. When different customer segments respond to different marketing communications, decisions can be made about where to focus your efforts and budget based upon hard data, an especially important tool when strong business cases have to be made.
How Can Smaller Marketing Businesses Take Advantage of Big Data?
Integrating Big Data has typically been the domain of large companies that can afford the huge costs involved. These costs can run into the hundreds of thousands and include new personnel, equipment and software. However, smaller businesses can take advantage of Big Data by licensing time and expertise from service providers, bringing cutting-edge capabilities within reach.
Don’t Believe (All) The Hype
Many techies are quick to sing the praises of Big Data, yet it’s not without its drawbacks. Managing the tidal wave of unstructured data requires expertise and cutting-edge tools, both of which are in high-demand and low-supply, pushing up costs. Traditional marketing practices may not be as sexy, but in many cases they will be just as efficient in getting the job done. Know when to use Big Data and when to stick with traditional methods.
Why Your Next Hire Might Be a Data Scientist
In order to take action and integrate Big Data capabilities into your marketing efforts, it’s important to understand the requirements. There needs to be a high level of communication between marketing, business intelligence and IT in order for any implementation to be effective. Don’t just think that all you have to do is ask your Technical Officer to start analyzing huge data sets either; data science is an emerging field with a very specific skill-set, so if you are looking to transform the way you conduct marketing your next hire might have to be a data scientist.
The combination of Big Data and marketing offers some very exciting possibilities for engaging with customers, delivering effective communications and taking the right actions. Your options will vary based upon the size of your budget, but as service providers compete and technology improves, it’s only a matter of time until every marketer will have access to a suite of Big Data tools, and that’s when we’ll really start to see Big Data transforming inbound marketing strategies.
Jacob E. Dawson works with Delivery Hero , the online food delivery website. He is also an entrepreneur and inbound-marketing consultant with a passion for creating value! Follow Jacob on twitter @jacobedawson and on Google+.