Big Data is "Emotional" Data

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Stewart Pearson
Stewart Pearson

What does Big Data allow marketers to do with segmentation that was not possible before?

Today's explosive digital and mobile data flows enable direct marketers to define richer and actionable segmentation that:

  • Links behaviors and emotions with value; i.e., connects CRM analytics and modeling with market research and attitude surveys—the result is predictive and diagnostic.
  • Is actionable in market; i.e., enables marketers to customize content by segment, leveraging connected data and digital channels—the result is dynamic content that engages consumers through the content and channels of their choice.

Today an individual is more than just a user or buyer of products and services. Empowered by their personal devices, people engage with brands in multiple roles. They participate as connectors, conversationalists, and creators. They influence as critics, conversationalists, and champions. We call this new marketing paradigm (i.e., the “new CRM”) the Whole Consumer.

So, the future of marketing is personal, mobile, and social. Mobile data connecting consumers to conversations and content will be the driver of commerce. Marketers can capitalize on this through new segmentation models of behavior and emotion. It starts with data. Big Data can make every experience personal, delivering consumer satisfaction and ROI.

In the old marketing paradigm, most companies didn't know their customers as individuals. But even companies that did only had databases with transaction data. There was much they didn't know: future consumer needs, interactions with the enterprise, criticism or advocacy, purchases from competitors, interests in the category, drivers of their preferences and purchases.

Qualitative and quantitative market research enabled broad insights. Behavioral data modelers used predictive analytics to improve targeting and response rates. But there was no ability to connect behaviors and emotions.

The new paradigm

Digital and mobile changes everything, through data connecting consumer to enterprise. Mobile devices are conduits for data. And the data flows will be always-on and bidirectional: enterprise to consumer; consumer to enterprise.

Consumers will decide which companies and services they'll permit to access and use their data. The data will enable marketers to understand consumers in their multiple roles, as individuals, in real time during, at, and after the point of purchase.

The base of customer data is structured and quantitative, subject to advanced statistical analysis and modeling. Thanks to online tracking technology, the data will enable marketers to engage consumers throughout their decision journeys. Thanks to mobile device ubiquity, the data will enable marketers to engage consumers at the real time and physical point of purchase.

Digital media optimization based on online data trails delivers targeting and a level of optimization. But marketers can seize the potential to develop insights and competitive intelligence beyond media behaviors. Personal devices and data are overturning the traditional idea of the consumer purchase funnel and traditional roles of marketing channels.

Marketers can understand where online and mobile consumers go, what content they view, and how long and deeply they engage. They can learn how consumers engage with competitors, influencers, and stakeholders in their business.

Today, personal data is unstructured and structured. Segmentation techniques must evolve. Text mining and advanced linguistics enable marketers to identify and track the sentiment in social conversation, as well as individual posts, in the context in which they occur.

To illustrate the potential, consider that consumers increasingly respond to companies' investment in corporate social responsibility (CSR). A Burson-Marsteller survey reported that 75% of consumers agreed that it is important for a company to be socially responsible.

Far-seeing enterprises are responding by making significant investments in CSR. How do they connect these initiatives to consumers? How does segmentation help?

Using data, marketers can identify the customers segments that are motivated by social issues. They can weave the organization's CSR content into marketing storytelling, personalized for these individuals and the communities in which they participate. They can engage and activate consumers in these communities: as conversationalists, as creators of their own stories, as sharers.

Through segmentation and “emotional” data, marketers can bring social responsibility to life, expand its reach, and demonstrate the measurable business impact.


Stewart Pearson, Wunderman

Chief Client Officer Stewart Pearson began his career some 30 years ago as music marketing manager for Reader's Digest in the United Kingdom. “We had an aging customer base, so we set out on a strategy of recruiting younger customers,” he recalls.

“We did record compilations—‘The Swinging Sixties, The Spectacular Seventies.' We

were going to do an eighties set but couldn't come up with a good alliteration.” Stewart went on to tour the world for Foot Cone & Belding, eventually winding up as COO worldwide. He moved on to become CEO of Wunderman's Europe, Middle East/Africa region. By training, an economist with a special interest in China, Stewart foresees the Middle Kingdom casting an expanding shadow on the world. “We have many clients in Africa, and it's fascinating to see China's growing influence there,” he says.

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