A minute is an eternity in the digital realm. A single minute sees 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every day. Instagrammers post 216,000 new photos every minute on the site. Google processes 20 petabytes of data every 60 seconds.
That’s a LOT of data. And most of us are drowning in it. CSC’s research shows that 70% of data is created by individuals – but enterprises are responsible for storing and managing 80% of it.
But what are we doing with all of this data? Mostly, not much. Legal complications, technical shortcomings combined with business inertia make sure that only a fraction of the big data that most businesses generate is actually put to productive use. However, that’s where the opportunity is. Data from McKinsey shows that retailers that utilize their big data to the maximum can up their operating profits by over 60%.
A key insight from the big data story that has unfolded in the last five years is that a large proportion of the data being generated today is non-relational or unstructured data. As the CSC study puts it, “This shift is a revolutionary change after 40 years of dominance by relational databases.”
When revolutionary changes come along, it only makes sense to resort to revolutionary new methods to adapt to those changes. This article is a discussion of some of the approaches that a business can adopt to make sense of all the unstructured data they collect and use them effectively to convert potential customers into paying customers.
Turn social media listening from an “interesting” activity to a “must-do” exercise
By not knowing what users think about you and your marketing efforts, you’re basically shooting blind at a moving and highly opinionated target. It doesn’t take much to turn social media listening into a daily must-do.
Pick a tool like BrandWatch and tell it what you want to keep your ears open for – your brand name mentions, talk about your industry, mentions about key people in your company, important industry buzzwords – basically, key terms that will affect the way you market your brand. Voila, you’ll have in-depth information about who was talking about your keywords, what they were saying about it, was it positive or negative in tone and more such data at your fingertips in seconds. It’s a little like using a reverse phone-lookup service. With just one phone number you can track back and unravel detailed information about your caller without lifting a finger.
So what do you do with all the data once you have it? Take a look at the screenshot above. For the keywords “Digital Marketing,” I have a list of precise Twitter handles that mentioned these keywords most in the last 14 days. I also know which of these tweeters are influencers and whether they fit into my company’s demographic target segment.
I can now reach out to them directly with my brand’s offering that is custom-made to suit their preferences. Better targeting + hyper personalized message = higher conversions.
Target users more efficiently across multiple devices
With the smartphone revolution, nearly every consumer now uses multiple devices to access the internet. A study in the UK, puts that figure at 60% of all online adults. Most multi-device users switch between devices to complete even a single task, like buying an airline ticket or researching a new apartment. This means, there’s a good chance that your cookie based retargeting campaign only reaches the user on one of the many digital devices they use in a day. There’s no way of stitching together a cohesive consumer portrait with disconnected data from each device type.
Enter cross device tracking. Apps like Drawbridge allow businesses to track their users using more than just cookies. Unique user IDs are generated for each user across all the various devices they use by piecing together multiple identifiers – login data, device types, IP addresses, and more. These user IDs allow brands to get a holistic view of where your users go, track their purchase paths and their influencers all in one place. All this is made possible using something called “probabilistic modeling,” which is the analysis of large amounts of variable data, commonly used in artificial intelligence and meteorology.
The data from cross device tracking tools can be fed directly into programmatic ad platforms to create more targeted and better converting campaigns. This data can further be used to display personalized content on your website down to the individual user level.
More relevant marketing messages + laser targeted delivery platforms = higher conversions.
Get smarter with customer surveys
What better way to know your users and their preferences than going to the source? Customer surveys are a time-tested method of obtaining first-hand user data right from the horse’s mouth. Data that can be as structured or as free-flowing as you want it to be.
Free tools like Google Forms and TypeForm allow you to design, build and distribute surveys across you own website, blog or social media platforms. You can even embed surveys in your email newsletters to reach out to your subscriber database. Don’t worry if you’re a startup with nearly no subscribers. Options like SurveyMonkey Audience allow you to pick you own custom audience from millions of qualified responders that match your target audience specifications to the T and offers responses within your deadlines.
Once the data comes in, don’t just let it sit there in your computer and rot away. Implement the insights and learnings that surveys bring you to grow from strength to strength as a brand. Don’t believe in the power of customer inputs? Starbucks has an entire website, a Twitter handle and dedicated marketing to its customer surveys – My Starbucks Idea.
The site has generated thousands of new product ideas, service and experience based ideas, many of which have been put into practice by Seattle’s coffee behemoth.
Big data is old hat. We’ve all heard about it. Many of us have worked on it. Some of us have worked around it. Basically, where we sit in 2015, there’s absolutely no getting away from it.
Since we are stuck with the trillions of bytes of data generated around us every single day, it makes sense to put all those bits and bytes into use and apply them in such a way that benefits our businesses as well as users. Don’t you agree?
For more customer strategies that get results, see How to Deliver a Coordinated Customer Experience across Every Channel.