That alarm marketers are hearing is a wake up call from big data. It's telling marketers that they need to be more metrics driven, more technically savvy and more process oriented. At the top of the food chain, CMOs are taking on some of the responsibilities that traditionally belonged to CIOs. And at the middle management level, marketers are required to be more technical and metrics oriented.
Gone are the days of fishing for eyeballs or operating based on one’s gut instinct. It is no longer acceptable to just look at demographics or psychographics or just count eyeballs. Instead, marketers need to focus on the numbers -- people’s tribes, their behaviors, their interests, their online behavior -- both in terms of surfing the website or a mobile app, or transacting with a page or shopping cart.
But most marketers feel unprepared for the incoming big data wave: they lack resources, lack data know-how and don’t know how to get started.
According to a study from The Economist Intelligence Unit, only 24 percent of marketers use data for actionable marketing insight. Almost 50 percent of marketers in that same study cited a lack of capacity to analyze big data. Some companies are increasing their budgets for big data analytics, but there’s still no road map for getting marketers up to speed.
Rather than focus on the bells and whistles (the technology) of big data, here are seven practical steps a marketer can take to get out of their comfort zone and jump into the big data world:
1. Understand the 3 Vs of Big Data
- Volume or the amount of data involved
- Variety or to how the data is structured
- Velocity or the rate at which it is generated and analysed
2. Subscribe to and Learn the Ropes from a Few Key Bloggers
- SemAngel Blog by Gary Angel: Gary brings over twenty years of experience in decision support, CRM and software development. Gary co-founded Semphonic and is the president and chief technology officer. But don’t let the CTO title fool you. Gary is the the brightest consultant I have worked with and can take complex techn issues and break them down into easily digestible and understandable chunks for marketers.
- Analytics Blog by Justin Cutron: Justin is currently the analytics advocate at Google, so he has a boatload of knowledge. In his blog, he breaks down digital analytics for businesses.
- Customer Analytics blog by the SAS companies: This blog is for anyone who is looking for ways to improve the business of marketing and communicating with customers, which includes everything from multilevel marketing to social media campaigns.
- Big Data Hub by IBM: This blog is filled with case studies, videos, etc., from key players at IBM and beyond.
- Business Analytics Blog by Tim Elliot: Tom is an innovation evangelist for SAP. This blog contains his personal views, thoughts and opinions on business analytics.
3. Get your Organization Big Data Ready
- Tear down your organization’s silos and engage multiple departments
- Give team members homework -- get them reading the blogs mentioned above.
- Think about how you will link your current data infrastructure to your project (that means a business analyst, an IT guy, etc., should be involved in the meeting)
- Know and recognize that big d.ata is a team sport
4. Work Within an Agreed Upon Framework, for Example:
- Define your goal
- Understand your resources
- Review key segment’s journey
- Confirm you are capturing data during each phase
- Establish benchmark
- Create a small measurable deliverable (test)
- Track over time
- Establish toll gate reviews
- Expand program
- Tweak your programs as needed
5. Define Desired Outcome and 1 Question You Want Answered
- Yes, narrow it down to one (primary) question
- Answer the question, and move on
6. Understand Inputs by Breaking Down Customer(s) Journey
- Identify the different sources of data, such as social network behavior, information from third party lists, mobile usage, downloads, etc.
7. List Different Types of Potential Metrics to Track
- Information related specifically to the customers transactions (or actions)
- Information related to a segment’s usage patterns
- Information related to the overall marketing program
In some respects big data is just an extension of database marketing, a popular term in the 1980s and 1990s, because it focuses on leveraging customer information to segment an audience and develop personalized campaigns. The biggest difference now is that we can leverage unstructured data (video for example) and implement just-in-time programs.
I am a big believer in learning by doing. If marketers really want to figure out how to integrate big data into their business processes, they need to have on the job training. (And to that point, I actually believe this is important for the CMO as well as the Business Analyst, although the latter might get more in the proverbial data weeds!)
If marketers don’t get up to speed with big data, they will lose their admission ticket to be in the marketing world.
Title image by dencg (Shutterstock)