Are We Still Talking About Big Data?

Over the last few years, the term ‘big data’ has been hugely pervasive in marketing circles on a global scale. The big data movement has had businesses both large and small rushing to install analytics tools in their droves; but data is only as useful as what you do with it. Now, with big data firmly in the limelight, the question is how to identify and apply the insights offered by it in order to gain an advantage in a competitive market.

Big Data

Far from being a passing fad, big data seems to be growing still more widespread and crucial to success, as vindicated by a report conducted by Circle Research, which stipulates that:
  • 83% of the companies surveyed made the decision to invest in big data by 2017 (p10).
  • Companies already implementing big data, reported an increase of 41% big data usage from the previous year (p11).
  • 69% of marketers currently using big data expressed that it remains central to shaping the overall operational and commercial strategy of their organisation (p16).
  • Incorporating Big Data into Marketing Strategies

    The Circle Research report summarises the significance of big data for marketing strategy: "richer data enables marketers to make better informed decisions based on deeper customer insight, driving improved marketing return on investment (MROI) and ultimately leading to more sales”(p4). In B2B, embracing big data is also useful for recognising ‘micromarkets,’ which allows a company to differentiate their customer base by company size, industry, etc., and see where efforts have been successful and where efforts could be improved.

    Big data becomes extremely useful for marketers in general, then, because it offers insight into current successful business ventures and therefore offers a method of evaluation to gauge similar prospective customer bases as valid or invalid. This method is called ‘lead scoring’.

    Barriers to Using Big Data

    However, while the positive results experienced by businesses are driving the adoption of big data, the report also outlined some of the challenges for marketers. The sometimes very complex data on customer behaviour can lead to marketers getting lost in a sea of senseless data. In order to extract value from the vast amount of data available, marketers must know exactly what they’re looking to get out of it, and know how what to look for. Since everyone digests information differently, and indeed for every company significant data points will differ, data analysis requires a well thought out game plan and the intelligence to put that plan into motion.

    Tools of the Trade

    In order to achieve this, the use of data visualisation tools, and the ability to use them skilfully is vital. Utilising such tools effectively eases the tracking of data trends and allows users to be able to predictively identify future target focal areas.

    However, if marketers are to spearhead big data to benefit their companies, they will have to learn to create dashboards for other departmental team members, not just themselves. A quality dashboard refines data into organised and coherent information so that it is focused and manageable. Since the information is streamlined and easier to digest, it can then be implemented into informed marketing strategies that can be targeted for maximum effectiveness.

    Dashboard tools are not exhaustive of course, and it always pays to keep informed about the latest analytics tools that are out there, like this new data visualisation tool that can display different chart types on one axis, for example. As consumer behaviour fluctuates, businesses need to be prepared to adapt to such a variety of data analysis methods in order to effectively analyse these trends to gain an advantage. Therefore, staying on top of developments in technology can only serve to improve the efficacy of data analysis in order to better inform strategy, and ultimately provide an edge over the competition in the market.

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