It's how you use it. Big Data is today's marketing black, no doubt about it. But it's not as one pundit suggested "Big Data is just ordinary data with good PR" neither is it just the amount in your stash.

No, if you want to realise the massive/staggering/blinding difference data about your visitors can make to your marketing, business and profits you have to learn to wield it effectively.

So, having been given the opportunity to blog about data-driven marketing, data-privacy, and all things targeted, I should start by talking about what we mean by, and can do with, the Big Data bonanza that the online channel provides us...

When I started out in "marketing automation" people used to think a Gigabyte was lot of data.

Today we can drop a terabyte or two on to a Maplin or Meijer hard drive for £50/$99 or Amazon will sell us a terabyte on their cloud computing services for $100/month (in fact they'll give us the first 30GB for free) - so holding lots of data is cheap.

Gathering the data is cheap too, modern marketing automation technology can capture every click, keystroke and even every mouse move of every visitor with a single tag, and process this into records about every visitor/session/behaviour in real time.

So, if access to and storage of the data is simple, why aren't we all marketing millionaires?

Well the last 10 years has also taught the marketing professional that "going online" did not deliver on all of its promises of “blinding insight”, “perfect targeting” and “easy measurement”.

Instead we were handed a wealth of new-but-usless ideas like click-thrus, hits, page impressions, ad impressions and unique individuals.

The end of the beginning...

The good news is that I think we have reached (to quote Mr. Churchill) "the end of the beginning".

We have started to get access to technology and work in ways that will finally start turning the data into dollars. I think the key changes are these:

  • We have stopped doing "Web Analytics" and started doing "Customer Analytics"......after all, it is the customers we care about.
  • We have started organising the data into Customer Records, which deal with the real-time here-and-nowness of the internet, but also keep the history of the person in we get the right context in our targeting.
  • We have technology that can analyse and report on this data without needing triple-headed SQL Doug Kessler's excellent blog post says “A plea to all the data geeks: speak human”.
  • The technology can automatically act on this data in real-time.....meaning your targeting becomes more timely, and thus more effective.
  • The technology can do all this without full time supervision: 
    1. meaning your campaigns keep running each and every day, targeting each new person as they fall into the target segment (no more endless list building) and
    2. have more time to generate value through your creative thinking rather than being some data-driven automaton.

Relevance marketing

All this means we can implement data-driven marketing campaigns that reflect the ideas that DunnHumby's co-founders Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby first demonstrated with Tesco's loyalty card program, perhaps the world's first Big Data marketing program.

They christened this approach "Relevance Marketing", "the art of saying the right thing, to the right person, at the right time".

The good news is that it actually works too. We regularly see campaigns that convert 30%, 40% or even 60% of the people we target.

So, Big Data is here, it does work, and can be used by you to become the marketing hero your mother always said you would be.

Malcolm Duckett

Published 26 March, 2013 by Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett is CEO of Magiq and a contributor to Econsultancy. Connect with Malcolm on Google Plus

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Comments (2)


Sarah Hughes

So true, Malcolm.
I'd like to reinforce your point that "We have technology that can analyse and report on this data without needing triple-headed SQL experts". At Datitude, we are using the fabulous Tableau visualisation software. We have so many examples of how clever visualisation of data turns it into clear and actionable intelligence.

over 5 years ago


Paul Thompson, Pitney Bowes Software

Hi Malcolm – I appreciated your article and agree that the wealth of data that is gleaned from things like click-thrus, hits and page impressions is useless without the necessary technology and practices to turn it into targeted, efficient messages. At the end of the day, we all strive to be relevant. With this in mind, I wanted to emphasize the importance of tackling data-driven marketing, bit by bit, to not only make it more manageable, but to mitigate the risk of data quality challenges. Issues with data quality have a severe impact on an organization, ranging from loss in revenue to opportunities missed. Pulling value from Big Data also remains a challenge for many organizations and much of this challenge involves creating clean, accurate and extensive Single Customer Views packed with important behavioural metrics garnered from Big Data that businesses can use to drive communication and product strategies. Regardless, companies shouldn’t go running for the hills just yet - as long as the journey of harnessing data starts off with baby steps and the desire to do it right, you really can start turning data into dollars!

over 5 years ago

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