14 Steps to Put Big Data to Work in Your Organization

Also known as data-driven marketing, big data marketing is the process of collecting, analyzing, and acting on the insights you’ve derived from big data to encourage customer engagement, improve marketing results, and
measure internal accountability. Here’s some tips on  how to get the most out of your customer data.

1. ThinkstockPhotos-462245357Keep it an inside job.
Do not outsource your data strategy. Outsourcing certain data-analysis execution tasks is common and acceptable, but ownership must be internal. Remember: data is now a competitive differentiator. Therefore, you need someone on your team, at a senior level, to help drive the data strategy and ensure employees across your organization are dedicated to executing it.

2. Don’t begin with technology.
Analyze your customer’s needs, your buyer’s journey, and your company culture before you choose a data management platform.

3. It’s big data, but start small.

Determine what precise pieces of data about the customer are most important to your business goals. For example, focus on new customer acquisition or customer attrition. Begin with a pilot with a short time frame and clear, tangible outcomes. Then determine what you will need in terms of support from IT.

4. Remember that being small can be a huge advantage.
Small companies can have advantages. They are nimble and are not often tied down by legacy systems with data siloed in various corners of the company. “The small to middle-sized companies are in the best position to do so, because they have a single unified marketing team,” said Chris Robison, general manager of the direct business at Poppin, an office supplies ecommerce start-up.

5. ThinkstockPhotos-475417113Get the right people on the bus.
Making the most from big data means hiring data scientists and chief marketing technologists. Hire
employees who enjoy numbers and spreadsheets. Further, hire people who are curious enough to want to know what is driving success.

6. Get the right tools in your toolbox.
The right technologies are essential to get from messy, unstructured data to business insight. A business intelligence (BI) solution is one of these — a very flexible reporting tool that enables marketers to slice and dice data with remarkable flexibility. Predictive analytics tools help you find the proverbial needle in the big data haystack, identifying traits and behaviors of individuals and groups and informing your marketing decisions. Finally, data visualization translates complex data into visuals that can help marketers and their analytics overcome communication barriers and work more quickly toward those aha moments.

7. ThinkstockPhotos-77902534Have control over your IT.

The marketing department must at the very least share control of the technology that is increasingly needed to do its job.

8. Keep your eyes on the dashboard.
Unlike in the past, big data can tell marketers which of their programs are working and which are not, often
immediately. Glenn Gow, president of Crimson Marketing, said, “You need a dashboard mentality.”

9. It IS your job!
A traditional CMO may be tempted to simply turn over the marketing automation software to a Millennial. But the competent CEO must have a command of both strategy and software.

10. Swim to shore before you drown.
Big data doesn’t have to mean big expense. Every company is sitting on a gold mine of valuable customer and prospect data — in its email lists, through website interactions, or via its e-commerce data. Conduct a data audit to determine what data you have access to and understand the key pieces of data you need to boost revenue and profits. Find out what’s important in this data; analyze what data points, more than any others, indicate that a prospect is ready to buy or that a customer is ready to upgrade, so you can take action before any of your competitors do.

11. ThinkstockPhotos-80408318Tear down the silos.
Your goal should be to improve not only marketing performance but the entire business. Get cooperation from other departments. To secure their buy-in, show them what can be in it for them.

12. Get insights from big data back to those who can use it.
CMOs need the meaningful insights that big data can provide, but so do front-line store managers, call center phone staff, and sales associates. What good is insight if it stays within the confines of the boardroom? Get it into the hands of those who can act on it.

13. Keep it clean.
One in five businesses changes a postal address every year. According to a survey by NetProspex, 88 percent of business databases were lacking basic data, such as the prospect’s industry, company revenues, and number of employees.* Nearly two thirds of records did not even have a phone number.

14. ThinkstockPhotos-498300274There is no cookie-cutter approach.
Just like with a social media strategy, don’t simply find and use a big data blueprint that has worked for other companies. Big data is not about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s all about how you can build a big and unique advantage for your company.

Big data discovery requires an open mind and an approach based on experimentation. Once you start seeing relationships in your data, you can start building the predictive models and marketing strategies that can help you capitalize on those relationships.

Big data is not an end in itself. Used wisely, it allows you to create a highly informed and effective marketing organization that can outflank your competitors and make you more relevant to your customers. Marketing
data will continue to expand exponentially as more media is measured — via impressions, clicks, visits, and social actions — and smart marketers will start to think about how they will leverage this data now.

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