The Role of Big Data in the World of Marketing

A friend of mine once said, “Instagram and Google can read my mind!”.

While this was said in a satirical tone, he did make a very good point. At some stage in our life, we’ve wondered on how the internet knows all about our favourite brands. How on earth do marketers always send us emails about a new discounted suit when we’ve got a mate’s wedding around the corner!?

All the answers to our questions lie in our browser history where our internet activities are stored somewhere in the digital realm, and that’s just the tip of the ‘big data’ iceberg.

In order for us to understand big data’s significance, it is first necessary to know what it actually is.

Big Data

Oracle defines big data as “larger, more complex data sets, especially from new data sources that are so voluminous that traditional data processing software just can’t manage them.”

But why should big data be a big thing to us?

According to Bernard Marr & Co, big data’s principle is simple, the more you know the current situation i.e. the more data you currently have, the more reliable your new insights and more accurate your predictions of the future will be.

Forbes shows that customer analytics is found to be the largest proportion of big data usage (48%), followed by operational analysis (21%), fraud and compliance (12%), and product & service innovation (10%).

The high proportion of customer analytics is indicative on how important big data is to the marketing world in particular.

So, let’s explore some ways big data helps marketers today and how it can further enhance the quality of decision making in the future.

Targeting the Right Customers

Customers like to receive straight-forward ads that are relevant and based on what they need, not random calls from total strangers. While cold-calling was a thing of the past, today it is seen as a nuisance meant to waste time.

Big data helps save consumers’ time on researching discounted products, looking for the best services, and browsing endless promotions. It also provides marketers with clear, detailed and structured information. Thus, preventing clueless bombarding.

Rather than running aimlessly, marketers can now target their products to the right customers. By tracking their online activities, data compilation shows their interests and needs based on their preferences in a real time situation. Therefore, big data helps marketers to concentrate their resources onto their target market.

Understanding Customer Behaviour

Customer relationship management (CRM) is another area that big data contributes significantly. While getting a customer to the purchase stage in their lifecycle is hard, retaining them as a loyal customer can be even harder. Having the purchase history of a customer is good but may not be enough to sell future products.

Currently, this is being addressed by analysing reports generated from electronic direct mail (EDM) campaigns. But, sometimes EDMs do not provide accurate enough information.

Big data reports offer the opportunity of higher accuracy and a comprehensive picture of customers. It allows for customer retention to be more effective because as more data is stored, the pattern of customers’ behaviour is also predictively revealed. Therefore, this data can be used as the most reliable insight for companies to manage, interact with and offer to customers effectively and efficiently.

Making Informed Decisions

Past performances and current market analysis are used traditionally for making decisions. However, now with the availability of big data, making informed decisions can be taken to the next level.

Analysis is often limited by the information we have. But if marketers had access to all the information stored and processed, decisions based on a big data analyses would surely be more accurate and reliable.

If the assumption of Trump won the election by using big data in political campaign is proven true, how much more can marketers use it in their marketing campaign to create a winning strategy?