Make Your Big Data Work for You

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, it’s pretty likely that the words “big data” have crossed your screen or page at some point. You may have ignored the idea. You may have tabled the idea. You may have even embraced the idea. But no matter how you reacted to those two little (but very powerful) words, I’m guessing that today you’ve got a Big Data problem.

Maybe, you have too little. Maybe you have too much. Maybe your data is messy. Or maybe, you just don’t know where to start. No matter your problem, it’s all about taking those first baby steps toward making your Big Data a valuable tool instead of a pain in the neck.

Okay, I’ve heard of Big Data, but why should I care?

If the digital revolution has brought us anything, it’s more ways to measure ourselves than we ever thought possible. As marketers, this means more opportunities to know and understand our clients, customers, and consumers. We can track their journey and path to purchase decisions. We can measure how they engage with products. We can find out how active they are, how far and how fast they drive, and how they feel about that celebrity that just died. While it may all seem like white noise, in reality, we have the information at our fingertips to better target and better optimize our messages while creating the perfect products that our customers really want.

I’ve got too little of it.

I hear you. You read all about Big Data and think, “But I don’t have any data. I’m not tracking anything right now.”

That’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rather than ignoring it, just get going. Starting small with a little bit of data is better than measuring nothing at all. It can be overwhelming to decide where to begin, so ask yourself what questions you’ve always had and what answers you’ve always wanted. That can lead you to the data you need to measure. Of course, answers always lead to more questions, which will set you on the path towards your long-term measurement strategy.

Don’t forget that Big Data is Big Business. There are a number of companies (Acxiom, Experian, etc.) that have embraced marketing data, and you can partner with them to help you find the right targets and prospects for your message without relying on your own data.

I’ve got too much of it.

Lucky you. Everyone else is jealous of your humble brag. But in all seriousness, some businesses just lend themselves to producing a lot of data. You could have more information about your customers than you know what to do with, and it could be overwhelming trying to make any of it actionable.

Never fear. In a lot of ways, a great place to start is actually where the person with too little data will start: with a question. You know what your goals are and what questions your boss would like an answer to. And if you’re swimming in data, it’s more than likely that the answer is in there somewhere if you just know where to look and how to cut it.

Keep in mind, measurement for measurement’s sake is a real issue in this world where everything is quantifiable. Sometimes numbers are just a distraction and take you away from what’s really important. So as you start to weed through all that data, be sure to ask yourself: “Are the numbers I’m dissecting actually helping me get the answers I’m looking for?”

My data’s a mess!

I know. We all started measuring everything without knowing what we were doing, and now the thought of organizing all this information is overwhelming. Just remember, good data in equals good data out.

The good news is this isn’t something you necessarily need to figure out on your own. But it may be something that requires an investment. That investment could be time, or it could be into a platform that can help you make sense of all that information. Start by thinking about how you organize and house your data to make sure it’s clean and ready for analysis.

The topic of Big Data can be enough to send you running for the hills. But the data that is now available to marketers is incredibly powerful. It can help you analyze your results and optimize your activity. It can help you more accurately target the people you’re trying to reach. And it can help you personalize your messages and make them resonate more deeply with your consumer or customer. Just remember, whoever rules the data rules the world, so getting a good handle on your data can lead to success.