Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marketers: 3 Steps to Make Big Data Work Better for Your Company

Today, marketers are focusing on the power of new types of Big Data to improve their analytic systems, to better drive profits to their company's bottom line. As a graduate student at Northwestern Medill School studying Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), I have been following many thought leaders in the world of analytics to learn where this trend of Big Data is headed. Here are two articles that focus on moving forward from Big Data being just a buzz word to becoming a valuable resource for marketers everywhere.

Alon Even, VP of Marketing at Appsee points out an often overlooked challenge in “Big Data and mobileanalytics: Ready to rule 2015”. Although the volume, variety, velocity and veracity of big data has brought us an abundance of information, the rate at which new data is being collected simply cannot be handled by the number of data analysts in the industry. Therefore, instead of being blindly excited by the abundance of collected data, marketers must shift focus and invest in finding “next-generation analytics” that can effectively and efficiently identify the valuable “whys” among the plethora of “whats”. It is not big data itself, but the ability to sift through it, find the valuable insights, and create actionable plans based on the information that will ultimately bring value to businesses.

Andrew Sheridan of Business 2 Community believes that "2015 Will Be the Year of Turning Big Data into Actionable Insights". While the act of collecting data has provided us with a strong foundation to work with, we must take simple aggregation a step further, really looking into the data to answer “why” questions and provide explanations for customer behavior.

From my graduate learning in the Northwestern Medill IMC program and my review of these two articles, I have developed 3 action items you need to consider to convert "Big Data" into "Smart Data". They are:
  • Actively Seek New, Smart Data– Collect information regarding your customers, but  keep efficiency in mind. Today's world offers marketers an endless supply of data so instead of collecting everything, make sure to keep the marketing goals in mind and collect only what is relevant and actionable. Who is the target? If  it is mobile customers, look into data from the company's mobile app users. Using the appropriate sources is key.

  • Find Greater Value by Translating Data – Go a step further and ask what the data is saying. What do the numbers mean? Why are the customers behaving in a certain way? What trends are there? What improvements is the data suggesting you to make? These questions will enable marketers to discover the hidden insights within the data.

  • Utilize Data for Feedback – In addition to providing insights, data can also provide feedback, allowing marketers to reevaluate their plans and strategies after they have been implemented. What are the results? Rely on analytics to evaluate your performance and make modifications or improvements for the future.
Marketers can transform big data from being simply a buzz word into actionable marketing strategies that will bring positive impact.

Jaeyeon is a graduate student pursuing a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. Previously, she has worked at a travel technology company that aggregated flight data coming in from hundreds of sources into a comprehensive database. After seeing how big data can bring value to businesses, she decided to become a data-driven marketer herself. She also holds a B. A. in Economics from Amherst College. You can follow her on twitter @JaeyeonC or connected with her on Linkedin.

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