Applying Big Data to Marketing? You'll Need a Guide.
“Big Data” is a label tied to an abstract sea of numbers; numbers that, if properly harnessed, can provide information on your market, your business and your customers. Over the past decade, Big Data has migrated from business analytics (logistics, real-estate, production efficiency) to marketing. The influx of information provided consultants, such as myself, with a new arsenal of tools to measure and refine digital marketing in all forms.
However, "Big Data”, like social media and email marketing before it, has been co-opted by virtually every marketing agency/advisor/firm. The result - disillusion. Business owners get pitched a new universe of metrics, then end up with a galaxy of garbage. Yes, the “Big Data” sea can help your business, but you need to find a partner who will do more than build you a boat - find one that will help ride the waves.
“Big” Needs Focus
The only practical means of applying Big Data’s wealth of information is by isolating and interpreting a micro-chasm of useful metrics. Many tools exist to help with this analysis, however the most commonly platform in marketing is Google Analytics.
Whenever I think of my first exposure to Google Analytics, I’m reminded of the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy awakes to a brand new world of color. The sky unnaturally blue. The bushes, emerald green. As she attempts to absorb her wonderful new surroundings, a city of horizontally-challenge caucasians jump out and burst into choreographed song and dance. Her paradigm of reality is officially shattered.
Like Dorothy’s dive into the realm of Munchkins and tin-men, logging into Google Analytics opens your eyes to a new realm of possibility. If a consultant throws you head first into this numerical world, you’re going to get lost. One second you’ll be serenaded by a gang of lollipop enthusiasts, the next, discussing politics with a witch who commutes via bubble. Look for a guide. Someone who will help you wade into this new technology. Someone that eliminates the spurious information and highlights what’s important. Someone to show you the yellow-brick road.
“Data” Needs Insight
Even the most honed metric is still a measure of the past. Simply knowing that it exists, and that changing it could produce positive results, has limited value. Imagine a scout returning from a 3-day patrol. Upon arriving back at base, he informs a superior office that, last night, he witnessed 100 enemy combatants camping 75 miles due south of their position.
“Anything else?” asks the officer.
“Yes sir, I think we would have a greater chance of victory if there were only 50 of them.”
The scout’s assessment, though correct, is incomplete - a common criticism of “Big Data” consultants. Priority is placed on observing and reporting, while application is ignored. It’s critical to have a consultant that provides actionable insight. This means knowing how to make suggestions come to fruition, and the time and resources needed for such a project.
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