Where Does Big Data Fit Into Marketing?

Where Does Big Data Fit Into Marketing?
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Where does your big data fit in to your marketing? This is a very tricky question. Of course you want to capture customer information as much as possible so that your marketing team can be much smarter about the method they use to communicate to prospects and existing customers. BUT, marketers first need to decide if the brand wants them to create a sales promotional strategy or a brand building strategy. How they use that big data is critical, because it's very hard to accomplish both of these simultaneously. As a former promotion producer for broadcast TV, I understand the sales promotional strategy quite well. Today, that mentality and promotion strategy uses data to drive immediate sales revenues. It's really a short-term means of driving sales. Brand building on the other hand uses that same data to help create sustainable growth over the long term. It relies more on educating the customer and leading them by the hand to get them to trust you. This is obviously not a quick sales revenue method.

Where Is The Marketing Sweetspot?

Many marketers tend to get caught-up in either one or the other, however finding a balance of both is really the marketing sweetspot. Here's an example. Marketers frequently hear from their bosses who are requesting them to prove what's working and what isn't? Does that mean we dive into the online dashboards and prove how all of our online metrics have gone up? (Visits to website, online form submissions, eBook downloads, videos watched, mobile app downloads, social engagement...to name a few). I think these are very important, but does it really tell us the complete picture of how marketing is adding value? - I don't think so. And is that really what the CEOs want to know? As important as ROI is, I think what is more important is that marketers are using the data appropriately to make better decisions so that they can get a clearer picture of customer purchase logic. Now if you told the CEO that you discovered that the data is helping you to see a trend that tells you what that logic is. I believe that could be more important because it will most likely lead to improved and targeted messaging and creative marketing campaigns, increased engagement and exposure, additional sales revenues and a more robust brand. Of course, one company's sweetspot may not be the same for every company; it takes trial and error to figure this out.

Big Data Focus

What if the big data suggests that you focus on one product in your suite of products? Does the marketing team then switch all marketing to focus on that one product? Hmm... some may say yes and others say no. If one product is the primary focus of your brand, that may be a good idea. However, if you also offer several other products and services and you are not marketing them, they may soon be extinct if you ignore them. That is when the ability to translate big data with good marketing intuition becomes very important.

Big data does not provide completely accurate unilateral business information that can be used for a one size fits all marketing approach.

However, the marketing team can take data and build campaigns that provide sales and brand messages in the same campaign. Additionally, let's face it, marketing, regardless of the focus of the key message does strengthen the brand and lift does occur. To accomplish a sales revenue increase and brand lift, the marketer must think about both when building the campaign, not after it is already created. Don't forget, with big data comes LOTS of data. If you are actually reviewing all of it and assessing it correctly and making your marketing decisions based on that data, that's great. But somehow I think your team is not taking a look at every piece of data and you're missing some. Guess what? That means you are not seeing the entire picture thus your assessment is not accurate - oh, oh! Big data does mean big... and you must review all of it correctly and quickly in order to make accurate marketing decisions. Small data samples are not helpful. Maybe that's why it's called big data - big is obviously a large part of how it functions.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a must in order for brands to communicate efficiently and effectively to the masses. I happen to be a big fan of automation, and HubSpot is one of the tools my team uses. However, there can be a downside. If marketing teams let the data and the automation dictate everything, yes, I mean all the decisions, you are in essence removing intuitive judgment from the marketing process. Do you really want to do that? In my opinion, a human's final decision of how data is interpreted and implemented for marketing purposes is always better than a computer spitting out raw data with no connection to human emotion and customer motivation. In the end, marketing automation is critical for successful customer path logic and understanding, but the human marketer must make the decision on how it's used.

What About Testing Your Marketing?

Here's a relatively simple approach to see what works and what doesn't. If your marketing team really wants to prove what is working, try A/B testing campaigns. Produce sale promotion campaigns and brand building campaigns and see what kind of results you get. Remember, your goal is not to measure sales, but measure engagement through online traffic, form submissions or other means that work best for your business. You will need to try this over time. One test on one campaign is too small of a sample size. Plan a 6-month campaign. Then you will be also to make tweaks along the way with different CTAs, imagery and offers. This will provide ample data to make necessary adjustments along the way.

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