Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that big data is driving the present and future of marketing – or all business operations for that matter. According to Gartner, the worldwide business intelligence and analytics market is expected to reach $18.3 billion by the end of 2017.
For all the potential it offers, the sheer volume of big data is growing at such a fast rate that marketers are struggling to keep up with the trends.
With so much information available, often times, the most difficult task is simply knowing what to look for and how to apply it to a marketing strategy. Even though every business has a unique sets of needs, each struggles with similar challenges along the way. Let’s discuss three of the most prevalent obstacles marketers face when dealing with big data.
1. Controlling Data Sources
In the early years of big data, gathering information was much more clear-cut than it is now. This was simply due to a limited number of sources available. Marketers were grabbing any and all the data they could to make more educated decisions. Fast forward to 2017, and the situation is reversed.
There are over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced every day, per IBM. With such a substantial stream of information in a small amount of time, one of the biggest challenges marketers face is making sense of it in real-time. Many are trying to get more and more granular with their approach by collecting data from a plethora of different sources – each of which have completely diverse methodologies for reporting.
This process can be incredibly cumbersome, especially in an omnichannel approach. The results can often times end up being terribly unclear and inconclusive. Even worse, by the time the vast amount of information is sifted through and deciphered, it has become dated and irrelevant.
Although it might be tempting to gather as much data as possible for your marketing strategy, it’s more beneficial to have less streams that make sense, rather than many that are ambiguous.
For this purpose, using cloud-based resources like Domo can be a saving grace for your data mining strategy. Domo uses a number of flexible ETL tools to combine your business’ data sources and simplifies the task of extracting and transforming raw information.
With an intuitive dashboard equipped to glean the most relevant insights from all your touchpoints and channels, analyzing data flows is made easy so you can plan your next move with hard numbers.
Keep in mind, data is completely worthless if the sources are uncontrolled. In an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The best move you can make is to simplify the process as much as possible.
2. Humanizing the Data
One of the most important aspects of big data in marketing is knowing how exactly it relates to consumer behavior. Customers are the life and blood of business; they are not just a number or a record in your database.
Attached to each customer is valuable information in relation to interactions, touchpoints, orders, and most importantly, opportunities. Behind every bit of data collected are living, breathing people who exist in a rich cultural ecosystem – just like you.
When looking at your data and what to do with it, step one should be to examine it through a humanized scope. Otherwise, finding context is much more difficult.
This concept is traced back to how well you understand the people you are marketing to and the experience you provide throughout your channels.
With this in mind, social science must be the true guide that helps decipher big data and how it relates to your goals. In other words, marketers must get accustomed to using theoretical framework to hypothesize the patterns in customer behavior.
Instead of just looking at concrete information, like buying patterns and conversions, you need to look deeper and pinpoint the why.
What motivates customers to make decisions after being exposed to your marketing?
To get to the root of this, you should be examining the finer details of how your target audience interacts with the digital world around them. A great place to start is on social media. Tools like Awario are designed to enable you to track certain keywords, brand mentions, or anything related to your marketing strategy across all of your channels. From here, you can monitor the current conversations taking place and get a feel for prevailing and evolving attitudes within your market.
It’s here where you can gain a profound understanding of the emotional insight that brings your customers to a decision. At the end of the day, this is what needs to drive your marketing approach, regardless of the channels you use. Once you gain a firm knowledge of the roots of customer pain points and motivations, reading the more technical data such as bounce rates, visit durations, and purchasing habits, will make much more sense.
3. Channel-Specific Expertise
Now that you’ve spent all this time and effort streamlining your data sources and pinpointing the deeper meaning behind customer sentiment, you need to know how to translate this knowledge into real results. Looking at data and reading between the lines is one thing. Taking the proper steps to advance an omnichannel marketing regime is a whole different story.
As many will attest, the widespread advancements in the web and big data equate to an ever-shifting business landscape. Therefore, marketing in general needs to be looked at from a perspective that the strategies and formulas used are constantly evolving and redefining themselves. Those in the field must have an exceptionally versatile education in the finer details of digital marketing and how they can utilize the data they are given throughout campaigns.
Simplilearn offers a phenomenal master’s program in digital marketing that provides hands-on experience in the major domains such as SEO, Pay-Per-Click, social media, content, mobile, email, and analytics.
Going further, the program teaches how big data factors into these channels in relation to which metrics to look for, and most importantly, how to incorporate them into your tactics.
Keep in mind, marketing today is VERY different than it was ten – or even five – years ago. In order to be effective, the answers gleaned from big data must be strategically integrated for each channel. This is a task that requires expertise in all channels concerned, and therefore, should never be taken lightly. After all, your ability to find the actionable marketing insights and execute appropriately plays a huge factor in your business’s survival.
Big data will always have somewhat of a mystery factor behind it. Given the amount of information we are provided with by the day, the possibilities are practically endless. Knowing how to spot the best opportunities and act accordingly requires a level of savviness that few possess.
As a marketer, it’s tempting to want to get as detailed as possible when learning what your data actually means. However, it’s important to start slow and not get caught up in the hype. Success depends on how well you can extract the relevant wisdom and translate it to real interactions across your chosen channels.
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Author: Tracy Vides
Tracy Vides is a digital marketing strategist who works with small businesses and startups to help improve their content, mobile web and social presence. Tracy is also a prolific writer – her posts on ecommerce, social media, and conversion are regularly featured on tech blogs across the web. Follow her on Twitter @tracyvides.