“Big data” has become a catchall term for the vast amount of information generated by our digital lifestyles, and the analytics techniques for dealing with it all to improve marketing, products, and business intelligence. It’s become very fashionable to decry the value of “big data” for marketing, with many pundits and consultants calling it “no big deal.”
I believe in “big data” just like I believe in the power of all data to transform our lives. Just look at the powerful applications already emerging in healthcare, world hunger, global economics, and even for those for whom hockey is more important than life itself, sport competiveness.
The opportunity in marketing and business intelligence is just as strong. Our digital lifestyles generate a tremendous amount of personal and behavioral data – in fact, IDC estimates that by 2020, the number of commercial transactions on the Internet (both B2B and B2C) will reach 450 billion per day. McKinseyforecasts that demand for “big data” in the U.S. will create up to 190,000 high-paying jobs requiring deep analytical skills by 2018.
Used responsibly, all that data has a very meaningful impact on our lives and the economy. It’s time to clear up some of the myths surrounding big data and what it can do for marketers.
Recently I’ve been helping one of my clients redesign its online presence. As we all know, our website is our brand’s front door – just as important, if not more so, than our company’s physical presence. It’s how potential clients learn more about our brand, and where existing clients will go to stay connected with us. When executed well, a great B2B website can do the job of 100 salespeople, scaling your message to the masses and helping drive loads of revenue. They can help with retention, upselling, and help facilitate customer service. So, why are so many of them so terrible?
In general, a great B2B website does five things:
1. Gets users the information they came for quickly. Ad specs, contact info, you name it. Run a survey with your visitors – or look at your Google Analytics to see which pages generate the most engagement – to determine the reason they’re coming to your site; put those items in a location that’s easily accessible, like the footer.
With so much data and automation technology available to marketers, there is a temptation to do more, more often. Yet, the most effective uses of big data are usually not bigger marketing, but leaner, more efficient marketing.
The biggest challenge now is to wrestle big data down into actionable insights. We need to get to the data that counts. Grazia Ochoa, director of global digital marketing at Starwood Hotels and Resorts said in a recent panel on data-driven marketing that I was lucky enough to moderate here in New York City, “We view consumer behavior in multiple models in order to understand the full experience in each visit in a particular property, but also over time to see how we can improve the return rate. If I can move a guest from four visits a year to six, that is better than just optimizing the four visits we already have. We strive to do both.”
Similarly, Charlie Swift, VP of marketing analysis and operations at Hearst says, “As we move forward inventing the new world of publishing – between digital editions of our magazines and the shift to deeper consumer relationships – data is at the heart of our ability to learn and react faster to the market dynamics. Speed to learn and change is critical to our long-term success.”
What are the most powerful ways B2B lead generation marketers will be using big data in 2013?
1. Some may say attribution – understanding which channels, content, and messaging is working best.
2. Others may claim personalization and engagement scoring – delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.
3. A few may argue sales efficiency and effectiveness – giving the sales department more relevant information at the right time, helping to close more business faster.
4. But ultimately, I believe the most compelling case can be made for closing the loop – from marketing lead to sale and ultimately maximizing true ROI.
To be fair, I introduced these use cases in my last post, “What’s the Big Deal With Big Data.” And I do believe closing the loop is the most compelling, so let’s take a closer look here.