Lots of people in big business are throwing around terms like big data, data-driven business strategy and big data analytics. But is everyone basically talking about the same thing? Is the big data rage basically a new way of referring to traditional statistical analysis that involves a whole boatload of information?
A new free resource, “Be a Big Data Marketing Hero,” explains the basic terminology of big data and points out how big data analytics is different from what market research departments have been doing for generations. Namely, the term big data means more volume, velocity, veracity, variety and value of information about businesses, markets and consumers. If properly managed, big data can help you bridge the gap between what you do and what customers want in ways that just weren’t possible in a pre-digital world.
Here are three points about how big data can improve your business in ways that traditional market research probably can’t.
Consumer Data is Abundant and Available.
Before social media, GPS-location technology in every coat pocket and an Internet-enabled mobile device in front of nearly every human face—back when the fax machine seemed really fast—businesses spent huge amounts of money to find out who was buying their products, who might become customers in the future and what these people want.
Yet traditional market research data is often outdated by the time it reaches decision-makers and it’s too frequently assessed in isolation from other types of information. In other words, information that was previously available to companies about their consumers routinely lacked timeliness and context for guiding strategic decisions.
Today consumer data is readily available without a need for expensive new studies. Gathering new (or primary) data is rarely the true need for companies interested in better understanding their markets. Instead, corporate decision-makers must figure out how to access information that already exists (within a company and from other groups or organizations), and then synthesize all this secondary (or existing) data to make sense of it. That’s why social interaction and strong interpersonal relationships are such desirable assets for modern analysts and business leaders.
The Path to Profitability is Lined with Shared Resources.
When departments are able to break down silos, bridge the knowledge divide and forge alliances with other teams to accomplish shared—instead of department-specific—goals, businesses gain efficiencies and improve profitability. Redundancies and missed opportunities hurt morale and productivity; these inefficiencies can also lead to job losses and financial hardship. If an isolated mentality and miscommunication are contributing to the disconnect, try to find common ground with other teams to identify ways to consolidate resources and achieve big wins.
To ensure that you’re appropriately leveraging the available internal information, minimizing redundant investments and working in conjunction other teams, you should establish communication with the following departments and harvest the information they’ve already collected:
- Operations planning
- Executive team
Timely Consumer Data is a Competitive Advantage.
The most successful companies are taking advantage of consumer data to carefully target the most likely consumers and make it easy for them to make buying decisions. These innovative companies understand that cross-functional communication can help put a business far above its competitors who may still be trying to figure out how to manage the potential of big data.
One way to act on this advice is to listen carefully to people in other departments and ask good questions. Gather stories and insights about your business and share this information with consumers on social media sites. Everyone loves a peek behind the curtain. Plus, communicating with people and building or strengthening a community of customers and prospects can help your company get closer to your customers to understand market dynamics that may be affecting your margins. So get involved in the conversation. Answer questions, contribute to discussions and help folks understand concepts and issues that may prevent them from buying your products.
Ultimately, a lot of people won’t admit they’re swayed by savvy marketing and creative placement—but they are. And consumers themselves are doing more than ever to help businesses sell more (or, in some cases, fewer) products. That’s how social media is reinforcing good old-fashioned conversations and peer pressure to drive purchase decisions, and successful brands are creating relevant digital content that motivates consumers to spread the word.
To keep up with the competition, businesses need to know how and where buyers are seeking information, what consumers share with their networks and which social cues are triggering sales. You don’t need a fancy market research study to get this information. By interacting directly with consumers on real-time platforms, businesses can gather some of the most actionable information available anywhere.