4 Ways to Use Big Data Better in 2016

January 27, 2016
By Phil Davis

Email-Data.jpgIf you’re looking to be a stronger marketer in 2016, you won’t find a more appropriate goal than resolving to make better use of your marketing data. Of course, for most of us, that’s easier said than done. While the industry began embracing Big Data years ago, many marketers are still challenged by mining, manipulating and leveraging their data in a way that brings tangible results. Luckily, it is possible.

As you begin your journey into making 2016 your most accomplished year yet, here are four tips to keep you on the right path toward more data-driven wins.

1. Embrace Predictive Data

Predictive analytics may be the next best thing to a crystal ball. As explained in a recent Marketing Land article by marketing automation expert Mary Wallace, today’s predictive analytics is fueled by a wealth of data that allows marketers to systematically predict the composition of the best leads. “Think TCP/IP log files, form submissions, email activity outside of the environment, your marketing controls, and even publicly available databases that show growth trends and buying patterns,” writes Wallace.

Tapping into this breadth of intelligence significantly ramps up the accuracy of your predictions into who is going to buy, when they are going to buy and what they are going to buy. You’ll be able to better segment your data, better personalize your messages and focus your marketing spend—which results in greater impact across your marketing efforts.

2. Build a Cross-Device Strategy

Today’s consumers are always connected, spending a staggering average of 4.7 hours per day on their smartphones. But if you’re stuck with a data strategy that measures performance of each media in a silo, you’re limiting your ability to track and target consumers as they move across devices.

The problem often lies in outdated attribution models. For instance, if you’re relying on a “last-click” model, you’re going to struggle to account for consumers who interact with your brand on multiple platforms before making a purchase. Instead, consider adopting “customer journey” attribution models, which spread out attribution weights across devices, or “time to conversion” models, which give more weight to clicks that occur closer to conversion.

By leveraging a more accurate approach to cross-device data analysis, you can more accurately assign credit to numerous channels for a particular purchase, giving you a more realistic and holistic view of your consumer’s behavior.

3. Hire a Data Scientist

If reading the previous paragraph made your head hurt, meet your next marketing hire: the data scientist. This is the person who brings to your team the skill set and knowledge necessary for recognizing and communicating the stories your data is trying to tell you. These talented individuals know how to bring structure to your numbers and can interpret the implications your numbers may have for your business.

The Harvard Business Review summed it up perfectly when it called the data scientist the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” To paraphrase: If answering your biggest marketing questions would require a “mashup” of several analytical efforts, you need to hire a data scientist now.

4. Use Data to Plan and Create Great Content

The best marketers use data not only to look inward and better define their own strategies, they also use data as they reach outward to their customers. The content you create builds a foundation for your entire customer relationship, so use your data to make that foundation as solid as possible.

There are several places where you can find this data:

  • Use keyword research to identify the questions your customers need answered.
  • Use Google Trends to identify current hot topics and buzzwords.
  • Analyze search engine results for the keywords you select to see what insights you might glean from the top performers.
  • Analyze the performance of your own existing content by measuring your search engine metrics, listening to your social media network and scouring your website and internal BI/CRM systems for data.
  • Measure, test and tweak to continually improve your content performance.

Throughout your data journey, the key is not to let the numbers stifle your creativity. Let your data-driven insights inspire you to try new, innovative thinking, so that your human, personal touch still shines through.

Looking for more ways to improve your email marketing in 2016? Check out my recent video blog where I debunk some of email marketing’s most dangerous myths.

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