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How to Put Big Data’s Superpowers to Work for Marketing


Companies may be well aware they’re sitting on a gold mine of data, but most of them have no idea how to exploit its value. Case in point: According to research by Forrester, up to 73 percent of corporate data goes unanalyzed. Information is collected, then neglected.

That’s as unproductive as living with Superman and never asking him for private air transport during rush-hour traffic. It’s time for organizations of all sizes to learn how to make their efforts more effective by using data, starting with data’s role in helping marketing achieve its goals of personalization and authenticity.

Using Data to Drive Marketing Success

To be sure, marketers already rely on a wealth of numbers and statistics to assist them in day-to-day operations. Consider the sophistication of retargeted ads and keeping up with the latest semantic and contextual changes in Google’s algorithms. However, marketing teams still underutilize massive amounts of data that could give their businesses a competitive edge.

Although this is more a case of benign neglect than deliberate indifference, the consequence could include damaging brand loyalty. After all, consumers demand customization in the marketing messages that reach their eyes and ears. Anything less than authentic personalization rubs potential buyers the wrong way — and drives them straight into the arms of another service or product provider.

Even if you’re already starting to make use of the big data your company gathers, consider taking these three steps to use data to gain market advantage.

1. Look for data patterns and anomalies.

Ever had a gut feeling that led to a marketing decision? Now, you can use data to test your intuition before you leap. As MIT researchers have shown, algorithms can comb through data to find predictive patterns that can help support or reject your theories. Ensure that every choice is collectively mapped out, using both human and artificial intelligence. By leaning on big data analytics, you can give your marketing team members a smart way to test their hunches pre-launch.

As Code North America, which specializes in unraveling data’s mysteries by detecting consumer engagement and behavioral patterns, notes, “Today’s digital touchpoints — mobile, social, web — all generate massive quantities of big data.” To achieve personalization and understand your audience, you’ll need to leverage big data’s superpowers to find the patterns in this massive amount of data.

2. Personalize content without burning out your marketing team.

We’re only human; fortunately, data isn’t. Data doesn’t need to sleep, eat, or take breaks. After collecting and organizing consumer data, the members of your marketing team can execute their strategy across multiple platforms and channels. With the right tech, this can happen almost instantaneously and without much oversight.

While your marketing team members will still need to create valuable copy, much of their strategy can be data-driven. Your marketers can use software to recommend the best next step based on the data they’ve collected on how individual customers have responded to incentives and messaging you’ve sent them in the past. Why should marketing employees waste precious on-the-clock minutes sending out messages or incentivized recommendations across multiple channels when they can work on high-level responsibilities instead?

3. Understand your audience — really.

You likely have at least a skin-deep understanding of your target personas, but why stop there? Data can grant you the superpower of X-ray vision, giving you insight into who audience members are and what they want. Don’t worry about your assumptions; you can make clearer judgment calls with the assistance of data. Sue Unerman, chief transformation officer at MediaCOM UK, likens the experience of using data to go beyond face value to an evolutionary jump: “It’s like we were using ancient maps almost, and now we’ve got GPS.”

Imagine being able to predict where your audience members will be — and be there waiting with exactly the right solution to their problems. This happens every day for marketing teams that make use of data to understand their audience and leverage its motivators to create fans and increase profits.

To be sure, data can’t usurp the place of marketers. However, when used in an innovative manner, it can make their jobs much easier and give them more wins. Think of it as the stealthy superhero who saves the day and then quietly leaves to score another victory without fanfare.

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