Marketers Take Note: Big Data Is About to Get Personal

Big Data has been a hot topic for the past couple years, and now it’s about to get personal. Companies recognize the massive amount of customer data at their disposal, but it’s becoming more important than ever to more effectively collect and analyze this data to improve the customer experience and make better business decisions.

It makes sense, then, that marketers will look to personalize the customer experience and take action on their data in 2014. Marketers need to truly understand their customers at the individual level to develop targeted campaigns, create a loyal customer base, and increase sales.

Melissa Parrish of Forrester summed it up nicely when she declared the following in a recent report:

“Marketers will start contextualizing their data, drawing even richer insights, and using those insights to create not just more relevant, but personalized campaigns and experiences. In short, 2014 will be the year that marketers begin to turn Big Data into smart data.”

I’m encouraged by Parrish’s statement and the notion that companies will take a closer look at customer data to derive personalized and actionable insights.

So what does this mean for marketers? Armed with the appropriate tools, marketers will increasingly analyze and use data based on customer or prospects’ interactions with the company, as well as their interests, behaviors, preferences, and likes, so they can better target individuals with content each likes and has a propensity to consume or buy.

Arguably, consumers benefit most from this movement. Imagine receiving an offer that you actually want or need? Or, recognizing that your bank truly understands you when they send you an offer for an added service because they learned, through savings and purchase history and other behavioral activities, that you’re actually in need of this product or service.

But how? Let’s get personal.

The measure of success for marketers is all about the customer—satisfaction, profitability, retention, and advocacy. Understanding customers and the elements that go into their decision-making is a direct correlation to increasing loyalty and revenue.

These days, information about customers is available through myriad channels including social media, mobile, Internet, broadcast, etc., but most important, a goldmine of data lies inside the systems of many organizations: call centers, CRM, banking records, and more. The opportunity is for marketers to harness this data to better understand their customers’ wants and needs, and deliver more effective, personalized customer experiences.

By listening to the volume of data on customer behaviors and activities from these channels, marketers can learn individual preferences and deliver campaigns that will succeed far better than product offers they think will work for a customer segment. For example, based on [customer] John’s available data (e.g., location, engagement, transactional, CRM, website history, social…), you discover that he’s recently married, has a steady income and substantial savings, has been tweeting about viewing real estate, etc. Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore, to develop personalized offers or campaigns for John based on these likes and activities? Wouldn’t John be more likely to act on an offer for mortgage-related products, rather than for a student loan or debt consolidation? 

The answer is yes, and the result is better targeting, which leads to better overall campaigns, which leads to better customer engagement and better relationships with customers.

Marketers are in a unique yet exciting position. They have so much customer data available from which to extract actionable insight and drive significant revenue for their business.  But what good is all this data if marketers are not effectively learning from and acting on it?

I hope Melissa Parrish is right and that we look back on 2014 as the year marketers got personal with their data. Because data will continue to propagate and get “bigger,” and only by personalizing—turning raw data into actionable intelligence—will marketers consistently produce loyal and profitable customer experiences.

Luc Burgelman is CEO of NGDATA

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