While everyone from astrophysicists to molecular biologists are excited about what big data means for their area of research, you don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate what it can do. Big data – or more accurately, the ability to crunch truly huge numbers and derive unprecedented levels of meaning from the torrents of information your software system takes in – also applies to marketing. With it, every element of customer behavior becomes a data point that can then be analyzed to spot trends that would have been invisible to analytical tools just a few years ago.
It is, but as with any up-and-coming technology, there’s a fair amount of hype mixed in with the very real benefits big data has for business. Here’s a look at what you need to know and what you can sleep on in 2015.
It isn’t just the size of your data set; it’s how your software analyzes it that matters. Improved analytics in marketing automation software reveal not only who’s visiting your website or opening your email, but what triggered those choices. By attributing fact-finding and buying decisions accurately, you get a much clearer picture of what motivates your customers. Video and audio are hot commodities, but they’re notoriously difficult to turn into easily understood numbers; marketing software can quantify how well your YouTube broadcasts and on-site podcasts are working to increase your bottom line.
The idea of customer personas is nothing new, but it used to involve a lot of intuition and flat-out guesswork. Big data enables you to create personas that hold up a clear, true mirror to your customers and show you an accurate image of them. With better customer personas and stronger CRM tools, you and your marketing team get a better idea of how to serve their needs, speak their language and be relevant to them. Only with big data can you get the kind of fine-grained detail you need to complete a portrait of your customers and find more leads like them.
It may seem like a paradox that automation and big data will work to improve on one of our oldest talents: storytelling. Narratives are as old as the Lascaux cave paintings, but big data can help shape a brand’s storyline and steer it in directions its customers want. Great content creators have given their companies distinctive voices for years; with big data and better CRM tools, they can now take customer input into account when developing those narratives.
Comprehensive Marketing Platforms
Not all marketing software or built-in website tools such as Google Analytics are equipped to supply state-of-the-art SaaS systems with what they need to produce results. These isolated systems give feedback about only part of your overall marketing activities. Comprehensive marketing automation systems that fully integrate email marketing, website analytics and page design are the future for big data applications. You’re better off investing in a single-source package than an array of interconnected systems that may or may not play nicely together.
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