Big Data in Marketing 101: Why it’s Important, Where it’s Going, and How to Get Started

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway.”

When author Geoffrey Moore tweeted that statement back in 2012, it may have been perceived as an overstatement. Now, big data is universally accepted in almost every vertical, not least of all in marketing and sales. While Moore’s tweet referred specifically to big data analytics, the same is true for all aspects of big data, including data ingestion, integration, storage, and more.

Whether you are trying to improve customer loyalty and engagement, optimize your performance, or make pricing decisions, big data in marketing has proven to be an indispensable tool.

But how is big data transforming marketing and sales? It certainly comes with challenges. We need to leverage cloud technology and curate, filter, process, and analyze the vast amounts of data we gather. Fortunately, there are innovative solutions to tackle these challenges.

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How Big Data is transforming marketing and sales.

In marketing, big data comprises gathering, analyzing, and using massive amounts of digital information to improve business operations, such as:

  • Getting a 360-degree view of their audiences. The concept of “know your customer” (KYC) was initially conceived many years ago to prevent bank fraud. KYC provides insight into customer behavior that was once limited to large financial institutions. Now, because of the accessibility of big data, the benefits of KYC are available to even small and medium businesses, thanks to cloud computing and big data.
  • Customer engagement, specifically how your customers view and interact with your brand, is a key factor in your marketing efforts. Big data analytics provides the business intelligence you need to bring about positive change, like improving existing products or increasing revenue per customer.
  • Brand awareness is another way big data can have a significant impact on marketing. Aberdeen Group’s Data-Driven Retail study showed that “data-driven retailers enjoy a greater annual increase in brand awareness by 2.7 times (20.1% vs. 7.4%) when compared to all others.”
  • The 360-degree view from big data allows marketers to present customer-specific content when and where it is most effective to improve online and in-store brand recognition and recall. Big data allows you to be the Band-Aid of your product category even if you don’t have the marketing budget of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Improved customer acquisition is another great benefit that big data brings to marketing. A McKinsey survey found that “intensive users of customer analytics are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors in terms of new customer acquisition.” Leveraging the cloud allows for the gathering and analysis of consistent and personalized data from multiple sources, such as web, mobile applications, email, live chat, and even in-store interactions
  • Big data can help marketers leverage real-time data in cloud computing environments. The ability of big data to acquire, process, and analyze real-time data quickly and accurately enough to take immediate and effective action cannot be matched by any other technology. This is critical when analyzing data from GPS, IoT sensors, clicks on a webpage, or other real-time data.
  • Big data analytics is an essential component of big data. It provides business intelligence that results in time and cost savings by optimizing marketing performance.

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Three types of big data for marketers.

Marketers are interested in three types of big data: customer, financial, and operational. Each type of data is typically obtained from different sources and stored in different locations.

  1. Customer data helps marketers understand their target audience. The obvious data of this type are facts like names, email addresses, purchase histories, and web searches. Just as important, if not more so, are indications of your audience’s attitudes that may be gathered from social media activity, surveys, and online communities.
  2. Financial data helps you measure performance and operate more efficiently. Your organization’s sales and marketing statistics, costs, and margins fall into this category. Competitors’ financial data such as pricing can also be included in this category.
  3. Operational data relates to business processes. It may relate to shipping and logistics, customer relationship management systems, or feedback from hardware sensors and other sources. Analysis of this data can lead to improved performance and reduced costs.

Real-life examples of big data in marketing

Use cases for big data possibilities are inspirational, but what does big data in marketing look like in the real world? These examples show how three companies improved their marketing success using big data.

Elsevier uses big data to streamline a marketing calendar.

Elsevier is the world’s largest provider of scientific, technical, and medical information, publishing 430,000 peer-reviewed research articles annually.

Big data and a multi-cloud environment provide an efficient way to closely track journals and books throughout their lifecycle and more effectively schedule resources to streamline production and support marketing. Those articles come from a wide variety of resources across the global organization. Combining big data from multiple clouds and sources across the globe merges many regional marketing efforts into a single global marketing message strategy.

DMD Marketing Corp. outperforms competition 3x with big data.

DMD Marketing Corp. offers the only authenticated database available that can reach, report, and respond to the dynamic digital behavior of more than six million fully opted-in U.S. healthcare professionals. To date, DMD has deployed more than 300 million emails and 30,000 email marketing campaigns.

Given that marketing emails to healthcare professionals is a very competitive commodity business, big data gives DMD a way to differentiate. Using cloud-based big data integration tools, DMD refreshes email data every day, rather than every three days, which helps the company outpace the competition with 95% email deliverability.

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Big data Gives Beachbody near Real-time user behavior to reduce customer churn.

Beachbody provides world-class fitness, nutrition, motivation, and support to over 23 million customers. Their business is all about the customer experience; keeping people motivated and matching them with the content that keeps them coming back for more.

You may be familiar with Beachbody’s on-demand videos, but they also offer live sessions at gyms. Big data has enabled the company to acquire near real-time consumer behavior in fitness centers. Combined with analysis from online data sources, Beachbody’s big data allows the brand to create more personalized offers for customers and decreased customer churn.

Challenges of big data in marketing.

Beachbody leveraged the customer 360 view to better understand their customers. While it is one of the benefits of big data, it is also one of the most challenging to get right.

While 88 percent of IT leaders believe their organization truly understands its customers, only 61 percent of consumers feel companies understand their needs. Clearly, there is a disconnect between these perceptions that must be addressed.

1. Disparate data systems.

One possible cause of the disconnect is the time to acquire data from a variety of sources. Users’ perceptions are immediate, so the greater the lag in data acquisition time the greater the disconnect. This is especially challenging for marketers because the disconnect time makes customer personalization less effective.

Organizations often have a mix of systems that store and process their data. Gathering data from these disparate systems, often through multiple channels, is a challenge that can easily delay data analysis, compromise security and compliance, and hinder efficiency.

One way to address this is with customer master data management. Customer MDM is a method to link all customer data to a single golden record that provides a 360-degree view of the customer, and then share that information where and when needed. This greatly decreases the time to acquisition.

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2. Streaming data sources.

The challenges in acquiring data are even greater in the case of streaming data. IoT systems can have hundreds of sensors, so the quantity of streaming data can be quite demanding, even on big data systems. In addition to acquiring the data, you also need real-time event processing to make use of it. As marketers invest more and more in the possibility of reaching a target audience through IoT devices, they need cloud-native big data tools to effectively handle the influx of streaming data.

Some streaming data, like GPS, website clicks, and video viewer interaction, are directly related to customer behaviors that provide essential marketing data. These challenges can be addressed using tools that are currently available on major cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, allowing marketers to get the full benefit of streaming data from these big data cloud platforms.

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3. Cross-department cooperation.

The three elements of any successful transformation are people, process, and technology. Technology is not the only challenge with big data in marketing. Big data adoption requires the involvement of different teams within an organization. Yet each team requires its own view and has its own use of the data.

Marketers can only benefit from big data if analysis of that data is accessible and efficient. Big data and multi-cloud environments make that possible. It allows IT and other data management departments to use their own tools in their own environments, while making crucial information accessible to other departments.

This is very evident in comparing the IT and business teams. IT teams need complex tools with extensive user interfaces. Business teams need focused, simple, yet powerful tools. There is no compromise that will work for both teams. Separate tools must run for each team to work effectively.

Without a single tool to meet the needs of different teams, we need multiple tools to communicate with each other, known as collaborative data management. The CDM system allows different teams to share, operate, and transfer data, each using a user interface that suits their specific needs. This allows each team to use the tools they need while maintaining data quality.

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How the cloud is driving big data for marketing.

It is hard to imagine practical implementations of big data in any industry without cloud computing. Big data’s demand for compute power and data storage are difficult to meet without the on-demand, self-service, pooled resource, and elastic characteristics of cloud computing. Beyond those basic characteristics, innovations in cloud computing continue to provide benefits to marketing initiatives using big data.

As it does for big data, cloud computing facilitates the use of virtual machines and containers. This provides portability of workloads that would not be possible without the cloud. It gives marketing teams the flexibility to move workloads, avoid vendor lock-in, reduce costs, and innovate new solutions that physical infrastructure cannot provide.

In addition to the benefits inherent in cloud technology, cloud service providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud provide extensive marketplaces that make it easy to buy, install, and run big data tools for marketing. While the “one-click” simplicity often touted may be a bit of an exaggeration, many of these tools can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

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Getting started with big data in marketing.

Big data gives us eyes and ears into our marketing initiatives. It captures insights into our prospects and customers at a level of detail never before possible. We can respond to real-time audience actions and drive customer behavior in the moment. Big data is transforming marketing and sales in ways that were unachievable just a few years ago.

Talend Master Data Management combines the power of MDM and data integration to deliver a single view of your data across internal and external sources in real time. By creating and sharing unified 360 views of data records, you can make the right decisions for your business at the right time, all the time. It allows you to develop business cases based on clear and quantifiable business benefits and concrete operational outcomes.

Marketers today have the tools and know-how to launch highly effective big data marketing efforts, enabled by cloud technology that lets us do it quickly and relatively easily at a reasonable cost. There will be challenges, but there is a collection of lessons learned on how to tackle those challenges. AWS, Azure, and Google have been proactive in facilitating big data initiatives to make the effort even easier.

Talend Data Fabric allows you to integrate and analyze data from almost any source, and pre-built connectors to applications like Salesforce, Marketo, SAP, and Netsuite make building those connections incredibly easy. Built-in data quality and governance functions mean you are using the best data to create the most trustworthy insights. There has never been a better time to leverage big data in marketing. Download Talend Data Fabric today to transform your customer experience.

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| Last Updated: September 3rd, 2019