7 Proven ways big data analytics can help marketing teams

Two marketing employees look at their desktop screen and analyze a bar graph of customer data

Big data analytics is making a difference across many industries, from retailers who use it for recommendations to financial institutions who use it for fraud detection and prevention. In marketing technology circles, it's become a buzz word, and it is frequently referred to as a technology that will help marketers make better informed decisions. This is reflected in the rate of adoption across enterprises for big data analytics tools, which grew from 17% who used them in 2015 to 59% in 2018.i

Over half of companies say that big data analytics has fundamentally changed how their sales and marketing teams operate.ii Big data provides insight on unique customer behaviors and provides the opportunity to further refine marketing approaches. As IBM CEO Ginni Rometty states, "big data will spell the death of customer segmentation and force the marketer to understand each customer as an individual with 18 months or be left in the dust." While this position may seem extreme, it's not entirely inaccurate. Using analytics from big data in meaningful ways truly can provide companies with the ability to vastly outperform competitors. Some of the most valuable metrics or informational pieces for marketers that can be collected through big data include those related to the following activities:

  • Management reporting. Marketers can leverage big sets of data from individual campaigns and other marketing activities in order to create comprehensive reports for leadership that show the effects of these activities in an easy-to-understand format.
  • Content optimization. Big data can be collected on consumer responses and actions in relation to specific types of advertising. This real-time feedback can be used to fine tune advertising efforts in order to ensure their performance is optimized.
  • Fostering customer loyalty. Big data analytics can help marketers go beyond the implementation of a campaign in order to help generate greater loyalty.
  • Search engine optimization. Data analytics can help to refine search engine strategies to ensure greater prominence and relevance for potential customers.

The simple reality is that big data isn't coming to the marketing industry—it is already here. Which means if you haven't considered leveraging it, you are missing an opportunity to outperform others in your industry. Fortunately, adopting big data analytics tools can be streamlined with the proper preparation, allowing you to hit the ground running. This preparation includes first identifying your end goal. If the data analytics don't line up with your goals, then you've sunk a lot of money into something that isn't getting you where you need to be. Once you've identified your goal (increased profit, greater brand recognition, etc.), you can identify which data sets are most crucial for achieving this goal, and then identify which analytic methods will provide the right analysis of the data set. These steps will lay the groundwork for your big data adoption process. Knowing what you want to do, the data you need to do it, and how to analyze the data helps to ensure that you select the right tool to accomplish your goals. There are several notable trends that are currently defining the many ways in which marketers are reaping the benefits of big data analytics.

  • Dynamic pricing. Establishing the right price point for different customers is a crucial element in the overall marketing strategy. Big data allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of prices, product and level of consumer interest, which then allows marketers to adjust pricing in a responsive way based upon customer behavior, such as discounts for those who are hesitant purchasers.
  • Measuring ROI. Historically, calculating the ROI on specific advertising efforts has been an incredible challenge for marketers, and over half of marketers report that they find it difficult to attribute specific activities directly to revenue.iii With the advanced analytics capabilities of big data solutions, all crucial measures are accounted for, such as the level of investment, consumer responses and actions and the channel in which it is delivered. This provides a precise ROI and can inform better budgeting decisions.
  • Forecasting. When big data analytics are analyzed in light of historical data, statistical algorithms are able to determine the chances of future results and behaviors. This is leading to a much more effective ability to forecast customer behavior and adjust marketing efforts based upon this information.
  • Planning marketing efforts. Big data can provide a detailed analysis of the latest trends in customer behavior with startling accuracy, including very specific sub-groups. This is allowing marketers to adjust their strategies in a way that appeals to each of these audiences differently. As these capabilities continue to grow, it may be possible to provide a unique experience for each use in the near future.
  • Increasing loyalty. Loyal customers are a huge asset. They make up a large portion of any company's clientele, they often serve as brand ambassadors, and they do not need the same level of advertising spending in order to produce sales. Big data analytics can help companies increase loyal customers by ensuring that their customer journey is pleasant and they are delivering what customers actually want.
  • Personalization. Personalizing the customer experience has likely been the biggest shift we have seen in the marketing industry. Current practices include personalizing the entire customer journey, but this isn't truly possible without big data analytics that provide the user-generated data necessary to understand consumer choices and preferences.
  • Enhancing product offerings. Data can inform about product features consumers like and dislike. This can allow businesses to adjust marketing efforts in a way that allows them to focus on the most popular and positive elements of the product or service. This data can also be used for design suggestions, which ultimately improves the product in way that customers want, making it easier to advertise and sell.

These are just a few of the ways in which marketers are currently using big data analytics in a way that is leading to real results in performance and profitability. The capabilities of these applications are sure to increase over the coming years. But right now, big data is already here, and it is incredibly valuable to the entire marketing process. Are you ready for it?

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