Contributed by Irving Fain – CEO & Co-founder of CrowdTwist
For most marketers, the BIG data revolution has failed to deliver on its promise of providing the kinds of meaningful insights that will propel their customer centric strategies.
The “more is better” mentality that initially drove the data movement has done little to improve and strengthen the relationships that brands build with consumers, and even less when it comes to helping to drive increases in acquisition and other core metrics. Starting with the emergence of digital channels, brands have been focused on capturing and gathering as much data from offline, online and social channels in order to create a BIG data repository that:
- Provides deeper customer insights
- Informs investments in new channels and content
- Provides guidance over what combination of channels and content drive conversion
- Drives sales
The problem with the current approach is simple: it isn’t that BIG data is overwhelming, it’s that BIG data is disconnected from what matters most, the customer.
The data marketers use to inform their decisions and investments is only part of the picture – a snippet in time that provides information on individual consumer engagement. With few exceptions, most of the marketing intelligence that’s leveraged is still primarily channel specific, so while it’s sufficient for informing channel strategies, it’s insufficient for building holistic customer relationships. Aggregating and attributing BIG data back to individuals lies at the very heart of the challenge marketers are facing, and is making it difficult for them to personalize their communications at every point along the path-to-purchase.
A recent report from Responsys speaks to the importance of connecting data to individuals. It says that 61% of those surveyed had a positive feeling about brands that personalized messages and 53% were more likely to purchase from a brand that personalized their communications. In order for marketers to close the gap between BIG data and personalized messaging, they have to recognize and interact with customers in ways that acknowledge the relationship each customer has with their brand, regardless of channel.
For BIG data to be effective it has to be carefully filtered for quality and paired with tools that help make it truly actionable. Here are a couple of guiding principles I believe can make the difference between data that’s disconnected and data that delivers.
- Quality Over Quantity - Don’t fall for the fallacy that more data is better; look for sources of data that are able to be connected and provide insights to your individual customers.
- Action Over Collection - Be sure that there are tools in place so that the data you’re gathering can be used for the benefit of both your business and your customers.
- Go To The Source - Don’t be scared to loop the customer into the conversation. 52% of customers trust brands who ask them to share their marketing preference. Look for ways to combine your 1st-party data with acquired 3rd-party data.
- If You Have It, Use It To Get Personal - Use BIG data to facilitate personalization. Consumers who provide information expect marketers to use it to enhance brand experiences. Show customers you’re listening to them and build long-term, personal relationships.
- Consistency Is Key - Don’t just personalize…consistently personalize. Make the brand experience follow the customer, not the channel, so that they have a tailored, relevant brand experience across all touch-points.
Marketers actually don’t need more data – they need more actionable data. BIG data can deliver on it’s promise and connect marketers to customers as long as it is paired with the kinds of tools that make it actionable. Loyalty programs are a critical tool that can help marketers stay connected with customers across channels and today are capable of providing omni-channel insights and analytics that identify the channels and content that ultimately are most meaningful for customers and most valuable for your business. When BIG data is united with the right tools that enable it to become CUSTOMER centric data, the value of using it changes completely.