How Big Data Creates Customer Portraits


In the 1870s, a handful of painters rocked the art world with a strikingly new technique for capturing their subjects. Instead of painting every detail, these artists used blocks of brilliant color that combined to create a beautiful impression of a moment in time. The Impressionists revolutionized art by proving that a whole picture’s more than just details.

What does an art lesson have to do with marketing? When you consider how big data takes blocks of firmographic, behavioral and demographic information to create a detailed and dynamic picture of your customers, the parallels are clear. What artists did with paint, marketing automation software does with data, using a collection of data points to put together a vivid picture of your customer base. With it, you can develop customer personas to inform your marketing decisions, understand the broader trends underlying your clients’ behavior, and streamline the flow of prospects through your sales and marketing pipeline.

Painting Details with Information

When you’re saying something relevant to your audience, they listen – but you can only be relevant when you know who they are and what they want. Every bit of data you collect about your customers tells you more about them; the more you know, the more relevant you become. Your marketing automation system adds color and form to individual customer profiles, detailing how each of your prospects interacts with you via email marketing, your website, your newsletter and social media.

Picturing Trends with Big Data

Marketing automation goes a step beyond conventional marketing tools and analyzes that data as a whole, creating composite customer personas and highlighting changes in real time. It’s sometimes hard to spot evolving trends from a surface viewpoint, but with big data, you get a top-down perspective that lets you identify a shift when it starts. If a handful of visitors download your latest white paper each week, you might not see where they go from there; with marketing automation software, you track those downloads and see when they lead straight to sales readiness. By making that connection between the download and sales readiness right away, you can shine a spotlight on the content and analyze what made it such an effective conversion tool.

Smoothing the Way for Buyers

When you look at a painting, you aren’t seeing individual brush strokes and points of color; you’re seeing the whole picture. Your brain automatically takes in the information from the canvas and transforms it into a recognizable image, smoothing everything out and turning a series of paint blobs into sunlight sparkling on water. Your potential customers see a seamlessly integrated marketing message that gives them the information they need to make buying decisions precisely when they want it.

By creating not just a static profile of customers but a dynamic impression of them, modern marketing automation tools fuse the science of big data with the art of marketing.

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