No, that isn't the sound of your customers hitting the Buy Now button. Sorry. It's Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud -- collectively referred to as SMAC -- and credited for most of today's marketing success stories.
Big data marketing is one of the obstacles that lie between you and Digital Transformation. It's also likely what your C-suite is blabbering on about, hoping that you marketers can turn big data into big bucks. You probably can, too. But it does require that you have a clear understanding of what big data is and isn't, as well as what it can do and can't do.
To read the blogs, you'd think big data marketing was either the end of the world or the dawn of a new age of humanity. In reality, it's somewhere in between. Here's the real deal about big data, and what marketers can expect it to actually do.
1. Myth: Big Data Isn't Really a Thing
Many marketers have passed on big data marketing, believing it's just so much hype. It isn't. Big data is used to express the analytical capabilities, not simply a gigantic heap of the same data we've always had. It involves not just a lot of data, but richly diverse sets of data. That's where the value comes in. Big data analytics can give you insights you never would be able to achieve with less diverse sets of data.
2. Myth: Big Data is the Answer to All Our Marketing Problems
Marketers who don't fall for the 'big data is just hype' malarkey are likely to fall for its flip side: big data can do everything. Unfortunately, this isn't true. Big data marketing can deliver lots of insight, but it is no replacement for market research, lead nurturing, customer relationship building, smart content development, etc. Data helps all those things (and more), but is not the end all, be all of marketing.
3. Myth: Lots of Data is the Same Thing as Big Data
We touched on this briefly, but let's dive a little deeper. Big data is not merely a larger pile of the traditional marketing data we've always used. It involves a wide variety of both internal and external data sets. Getting it requires tools for offloading the data from other systems and applications, or acquiring it from external sources like the government, the industry, researchers, etc. Big data marketing is determined more so by its variety than by its sheer quantity.
4. Myth: Big Data is Only for the Big Guys
In the early days of Hadoop and other big data platforms, it only made sense for the largest organizations with the deepest pockets to delve into big data marketing. It was enormously costly (even with free, open source tools like Hadoop), tremendously time-consuming (often taking a year or more to produce any ROI, if it did at all), and required specialized skill sets that were all but impossible for a small- to mid-size company to get their hands on.
Today, there are tons of vendors with ready-made big data marketing products available off-the-shelf, and getting a big data consultant for projects that aren't covered by boxed products isn't difficult nor incredibly expensive. Any size business can (and most decidedly should) take advantage of big data marketing.
5. Myth: Big Data is Fine Just Like It Is
One thing big data marketing does have in common with traditional marketing data is that, like turnip greens and potatoes, it comes rather dirty. Big data has the same problems as traditional data -- it is in dire need of cleansing, de-duplication, and solid data governance policies. Otherwise, you've got a big heap of meaningless data, and any analytics you conduct for marketing purposes will be skewed at best and radically off-base at worst.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.