Does Your Big Data Tell a Story?

How can marketers connect the dots and anticipate customer needs? By analyzing the patterns in Big Data.
Customer Experience

There's a good story out there waiting to be told. It's not a narrative that you've heard, seen, or read before, because it's made up of the experiences you will have in the next couple of hours, days, weeks, and years.

For marketers, being able to predict this story before it's written means better customer acquisition and greater customer lifetime value. For consumers, it means a more personalized experience-one that is consistent both online and off. So how can marketers connect the dots and anticipate needs before buyers have a chance to ask? By analyzing the patterns in Big Data.

Touchpoints, Tools, and You

When people love a brand, they're eager to connect with it across channels. That means more Likes on Facebook, more visits to specific product pages, more in-store visits and checkouts, and participation in brand loyalty programs. The data resulting from these interactions can be tied together into a deeper understanding of consumer behavior overall. In this way, the data begins to tell a story.

However, the way I interact with my favorite brand may be different than the way you do. For example, I open up my Twitter and Instagram accounts to brands, shop mostly offline, and prefer direct mail to email content with coupons. The preferences that make up my story may be different than yours, but parts of the story may sound pretty familiar.

When marketers are able to evaluate a significant volume of customer stories, they're better able to draw comparisons between one buyer and the next. They are able to go beyond traditional persona-based marketing and build out thousands of buying patterns to inspire digital marketing strategy. All that's required-and I say "all" with a lot of sarcasm-is a system in place to help consolidate, parse, and organize Big Data. This system then helps drive marketing strategy, turning insight into action. You can read more about making Big Data actionable in Skyword's eBook "Rising Above Big Data."

A Data System That Works

Before anyone can make sense out of Big Data, a process for consolidating, translating, and organizing information must be developed and implemented across an organization. Below I have outlined steps to help you get started with your own system:

  • Assemble the right team: Big Data is acquired cross-departmentally, and you'll need a team in place to help collect it all. Have you identified the right stakeholders in crucial departments to fuel big data marketing?
  • Know your end goal: Understand the level of personalization you wish to provide to your audience upfront. What is the challenge you're attempting to resolve through data analysis? Is it a prolonged buyer journey or a sloppy user experience on your e-commerce domain?
  • Determine what's preventing you from that end goal: Collect the data around the current user experience to understand how people are behaving right now. Where are the gaps? Where is there fall off?
  • Create a central repository for your data: Work with your IT stakeholders (from step 1) to develop a central location for all structured and unstructured data.
  • Get your feet wet: Before you jump into a huge data mining campaign, start with small pilot experiments. Are people abandoning items in your e-commerce cart? Try to understand where the conversions are breaking down and figure out the common elements of conversion.
  • Test, test, test: After each pilot, test the results through regular site and content updates. Have you discovered that video or "how-to" content placed within the checkout journey on your ecommerce site leads to higher conversion rates? Do you have a content marketing approach in place to capitalize on this insight?

With the right framework in place, you can begin to tell a story not yet heard by even those characters who play such a vital role in its progression. Davis Brand Capital Founder and CEO Patrick Davis told me in an interview that, "Big Data tells a story about your consumers; it allows you to tell a more precise story to them. That's why content marketing and data are so powerful together."

That's why marketers-especially content creators-are so focused on Big Data today. Are you behind the curve?