Why big data is really about small insights

In a world of hyper-connected consumers, big data is the foundation of marketing “magic.” Marketers previously gathered this data on consumer behavior through individuals – focus groups, test audiences, secret shoppers, even two-way mirrors. By observing individuals, marketers were able to understand subtle nuances in consumer behavior.

Now, marketers glean those nuances from data and analytics, and to do so, they need a lot of it. Just as more pixels allow digital photographers to zoom in on subtle background details with clarity, a wealth of data allows marketers to find granular insights on audience behavior.

Using data, one automaker we worked with found that consumers who spend more than a minute and forty-five seconds on its website tend to buy a car within 10 days. As a result, the car maker decided to tailor its web content to ease those users down the funnel and toward a sale.

Likewise, a Turn client, a European pay TV provider, learned how it could customize its web content to user interests, even for users it had never seen before. Soccer fans saw its sports package while sitcom viewers got highlights from popular family shows, setting new relationships off on the right foot and turning browsers into subscribers.

These examples show how small insights delivered by big data can make a meaningful difference to a brand’s bottom line. They’re about the value of not just knowing your customers – but of knowing what to do with what you know about your customers.

Here’s how your brand can do the same:

Find your audience and build on it. Lots of customer data comes through your pipeline, so put it to work. Combine first- and third-party data to create personas from the full spectrum of your known audience, then use modeling to find, attract, and engage consumers that share key characteristics with your customers.

Stop talking; start listening. We think a lot about how technology can help deliver the right message to the right customer. But that’s only half the battle. Smart marketers don’t just talk to their customers; they also listen. Just look at the great example set by Starcom and how they’re helping Kraft understand the habits of millions of visitors to Kraftrecipes.com to serve them up relevant content.


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We’re lucky to live in an age where our customers provide us with lots of information about their interests and aspirations. Use that to your advantage. Hear what they have to say, and respond to them with marketing that answers their specific needs.

Measure what matters. Rather than relying on traditional branding metrics and measurement to judge the power of your marketing, think about what matters most. Are you hoping to increase brand loyalty and recall? Or do you really want to drive an increase in sales?

Using offline sales metrics to assess the impact of your online marketing can reveal the true impact of your efforts and their real ROI. Don’t save measurement for the tail end of your campaign, either. Make it a part of your culture, and check in frequently to ensure that everything you do aligns to your specific goals.

Join forces. Choose the right technology and agency partners for your long-term success, and then work with them to set and achieve shared objectives. Together, learn from your results and see what’s working and what needs to be fine-tuned. Then look at where spend should be adjusted, and – most of all – where messaging and creative can be refined and adapted to deliver a better, more engaging content experience for your audience.

Customer data can and should be much more than an overwhelming volume of bits and bytes; smart marketers understand that it’s a trove of information about current and future customers. Knowing what to do with that information can transform your relationships with those customers and act as a boon to your bottom line.

So what’s your insight?


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