Thursday, May 15, 2014

Use Big Data to Make Big Impressions with Consumers in 3 Easy Steps

As a consultant, it is important to evaluate the state of your customer's database. The amount and breadth of information available can drastically change the strategy behind customer service, marketing and even product development. As a graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School at Northwestern University, I have found two articles that address the ways that business can use customer data improve service, engage their customers and start taking steps into the big data world.

In 5 ways companies are using big data to help their customers, VentureBeat gives a great overview on how companies should be using big data to help predict customer needs and how utilize feedback to improve pain points. They also note how you can improve customer service interactions by having more robust information such as how the customer has engaged with the company socially or any past purchases. For businesses with a customer services focus, making sure the service metrics are being plugged into your database can help you identify trends as they happen, so you can know what to focus your energies on the most important opportunities in real time.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
Still at a loss on how you can make big data work for you? Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily instructs businesses to leverage their internal information to build out customer loyalty programs in her article Boosting Customer Loyalty with Big Data. The loyalty programs, or even a baseline customer newsletter can help engage customers to buy more of your products and boost sentiments towards your brand. This is excellent advice as most business are probably not utilizing their customer data to its fullest and even simple analysis can help you identify customer that could spend more if they were part of a loyalty program.

After analyzing these two articles, here are three action items you need to implement to start tapping the power of big data:

1. Get your data in order
The usefulness of big data can be hindered by what information you have available on your customers. From contact information to purchase history, be sure that you have an accurate and reliable database solution and try to maintain as much information about the customer journey as possible.

2. Listen to your customers
Now that you have some quantitative data on purchase history, work to include qualitative points based on customer feedback to help move your business forward. You can gain insights from surveys, social media monitoring and even service representatives if available. These insights can help make your products and service better for returning and new customers alike.

3. Communicate with your customers
For the majority of small business, more than half of their annual revenue comes from repeat buyers, which makes cross selling your other products key. In addition to introducing new products and services, useful news and best practices for your specific industry can help create value for your brand. Be sure to set goals attached to your outreach, whether they be to increase sales or even just to improve engagement.

Big data can seem daunting depending upon where you are in the process, but by taking small steps you can get headed in path to better utilizing information you already have. If you haven’t gotten started yet though, consider this your wake up call. If you won’t take action and use data to improve your customers interactions with you company, your competitors certainly will.

Jay Hover is the Senior Manager of Customer Engagement at Rakuten Marketing, an ecommerce marketing services firm specializing in affiliate, display, search and retargeting. He oversees internal client communications and is responsible for engaging more than 2,000,000 partners. Jay is currently pursuing his M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School at Northwestern University and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Follow him on Twitter @jmhover or connect via LinkedIn:

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