Even though the term “big data” has been thrown around for years now, a lot of people still have trouble trying to explain exactly what it means. The name itself is misleading in that big data doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the size of data. Instead, it’s about what you can do with that data.
In the early 2000s, Gartner coined the term “3-D Data Management” and outlined the famous three V’s of big data: volume, velocity, and variety. Their model continues to be used today and shows that big data was never simply about the quantity of data, but also the speed at which it could be accessed and the varying formats that it’s stored in.
For marketers, “variety” is especially important. Businesses that are running marketing efforts on social media and other online outlets are faced with large amounts of unstructured data. Finding new ways to harness and analyze that data quickly is the core of what big data is about.
Here are three ways big data can improve your digital marketing strategy:
Businesses, e-commerce in particular, receive data from all directions. This creates a very fragmented system for analyzing customer data especially when that data is being sorted into separate and incompatible formats. Point-of-sale systems, Magento and other e-commerce platforms, mobile apps, and social media accounts all have data filing into separate information silos that aren’t being synthesized.
Combining all of these different data sets into one large centralized database, allows you to look at your customer data in a more holistic manner as well as from new perspectives. Now that your data is stored in a manner that incompatible formats are no longer a barrier, you can segment that data in new ways.
With a large centralized customer database, you can find trends and form generalizations. However, another way you can use big data in marketing is to problem solve. When you encounter an inconsistency or problem, it’s natural to start searching for a solution. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in a mountain of data and still not find a solution.
Start by hypothesizing solutions for your problem then test it against your data. This can be especially effective as you think through your content strategy. Creating content in response to problems your target audience is trying to solve, can help you cast a wider net and attract more people to your website.
Eventually, you can narrow your focus as you prove and disprove your hypothesis and find a solution. Rather than wasting time searching through separate information silos, you can solve problems more quickly by harnessing big data.
Using big data can help you analyze what you’re offering and who you’re offering it to. Not only can big data help you understand who is looking at your marketing messages, but it also helps you understand what they are looking for when looking at your marketing messages. This helps you fine-tune what your message says and to whom you’re saying it.
Big data allows you to look at your customers as individuals rather than demographics. It can also help you understand how your customers' behavior may change depending on their device. Users visiting your company's website from their phone, may not be ready to make a purchase. Your mobile marketing strategy needs to adapt to this so you can convert them to a customer when they're ready.
This harkens back to the last point about problem-solving. If one of your clients is reacting negatively to your marketing, you can address this problem at the individual level, rather than letting it throw off your data for that demographic.
Big data is not just a tool for large enterprises. Small business marketers can benefit from changing the way they store, manage, and analyze their data. Big data isn’t about the size or amount of data that you have, it’s about how you can better make use of it to solve problems and refine your marketing strategies. Big data is leveling the playing field for small businesses and empowering them to compete like big enterprises.