As marketers, we fall victim to using prose that’s ascribed by most others as the marketing ABC’s (acronyms, buzzwords, clutter). The term ‘big data’ is no exception. While many chalk big data up to being the next big marketing buzzword, beneath the chatter is a technological revolution where the term that has been castoff as the latest buzzword has meaning and some are realizing the value.
According to Gartner, big data just eclipsed the top of the Hype Cycle, and is moving toward the Trough of Disillusionment. This is not such a bad thing. Big Data’s movement along the Hype Cycle is an indication that the market is starting to mature, becoming more realistic about how big data can be useful for organizations. In essence, as the buzz subsides, big data is becoming more tangible and organizations are putting the right people and processes in place to turn their data into insight.
That’s not hyperbole, either. In a survey conducted by Forbes Insight and Turn, they found that organizations that are “leaders” in data-driven marketing report far higher levels of customer engagement and market growth than their “laggard” counterparts. The global survey of over 300 executives found that these leaders are roughly 3x more likely to have increased revenues (55% vs. 20%).
Although the process of data collection and attribution is a fairly pedestrian, it’s the pervasiveness of technology that has granted marketers access to data that has created a chasm between the data “haves” and the data “have nots.” For many organizations, the question then becomes how can marketers operationalize the data to help marketing bolster its contribution to the business’ bottom line.
Whether it is transactional information; online behavior; or the intersection of online and offline behavior, marketers are sitting on a wealth of information, and for the first time ever have the ability to identify customers at an individual level. It’s the specificity of being able to discern customers as individuals that’s the key to unlocking the business value of marketing data.
When companies dive into the minutia of their data, they are able to gain insight into who their customers are; identify like-behaviors and attributes, and ultimately create customer segments or clusters. Based on near real-time interactions with the brand, it allows companies to make predictions about customers’ future behavior. It is at this juncture where insight that is used to inform marketing strategies is turned into action. For instance, if big data is able to tell me what John Smith is likely going to purchase next, I can alter my marketing programs in place to reflect such information and target him with relevant messages pushing him towards his next purchase.
When marketing strategies incorporate customer data and turn it into customer intelligence, brands can create a user experience that is tailored and targeted to specific segments; fulfilling the anticipated needs and wants of each segment. As a result, brands will see higher levels of engagement from customers and prospects – and in turn, strengthening the brands’ retention and acquisition efforts. The result is higher levels of revenue and growth of the bottom line.
Today, there is a delta that’s forming between the industry leaders and laggards and data is what separates the two. Looking ahead, the companies that use marketing data as a strategic asset to help inform their decision-making will be the ones who are more likely to see lifts in revenue and sustained business growth.