Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools available today to manage your digital marketing? Can’t tell your Big Data from your Cloud Computing?
In this post, we’ll be focusing specifically on Big Data and how you can use it to help manage your business better.
What is Big Data? It sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s demystify the term with a simple definition first:
Big Data is comprised of datasets that are too big and complex for standard tools to store and analyze
These large data sets can be comprised of digital sources but can also include traditional methods of data collections. These include transactions (purchasing, payments, etc.) and point of sale or other, more standard, records. The challenge for organizations is melding all of these data sources into a single view of the customer.
So, how big is it?
It’s estimated that the digital universe as of 2012 – represented by all data either created, consumed or reproduced in one year – consisted of 2,837 exabytes (EB). This number is expected to grow to 40,000 EBs by 2020*. (An exabyte represents one billion gigabytes).
*Source: The Digital Universe in 2020: Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East (IDC & EMC, December 2012)
Social media is a great example showing the sheer breadth of digital information available today:
- Facebook has 1 billion users worldwide sharing 2.5 billion pieces of content daily
- Twitter has 560 million active users with 5,700 tweets occurring every second
- Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube (almost an hour for every person on Earth!) with 1 billion unique users visiting the site each month
Big Data is the Key to Understanding Your Customers
As a marketer, you are capturing similar data points all of the time about your customers via all kinds of transactions. Big data is the key to unlocking deeper insights about your customers and fully understanding their needs.
By looking at specific patterns and behaviors of customers, big data can help you as a marketer serve up the right product or service at the exact right time for the customer. Additionally, you can glean new insights about your customers that may surprise you – they may use your product in novel ways, spur a new product idea or want additional features.
Sounds pretty good so far, but you may be asking yourself – where do I start in terms of all of this data? The first step is to figure out the types of data points you are currently collecting.
By analyzing your existing data sets, you’ll be able to determine how complete your customer profiles are. And, you’ll start to see what other data you may be missing or that you think you may need, and you can start building a plan towards obtaining those.
Additionally, make sure you involve other departments within your organization so that all data points are feeding into one central source and you get a comprehensive view of the entire customer journey – from the initial sale onward.
Don’t Skimp on the Security
Another key consideration with any big data solution is the available security features. These need to be robust given the sensitive and potentially identifiable information collected from customers. Be sure to scrub the data of any personal information and maintain the security of the solution to prevent accidental disclosures or hacks.
Humans Drive the Insights
Tools are great, but they can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the human touch. It takes a well-trained eye to dive into the data, analyze it and then build actionable insights from that. Make sure the tool you’ve selected is the right mix of horsepower and usability based on who ultimately has to interpret the data.
It will be tempting to utilize every bit of data collected, but that may not provide the best insights into your customer. Dip your toe into the data slowly and methodically and view it from the perspective of driving your firm’s overall strategy and objectives.
Look Deeper and Ask Why
Gleaning the nuggets of customer goodness can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it when you realize measurable results. When analyzing the data, put on your detective hat and ask a lot of questions about what you’re seeing. You may think you know what your customers are doing but the data will tell the real story, as it should. Try to avoid making too many assumptions while analyzing – again, let the data do the talking.
The faster companies decipher information, the faster they’ll find actionable results and outsmart the competition. – Rick Delgado
By following the steps outlined here, you can feel a little more confident utilizing big data for your business and learning a lot more about your customers in the process. If you need help gathering data and using it to improve your marketing campaigns download our free report, “Hiring An Inbound Agency”.
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