You've likely heard something about "Big Data," and may be wondering what this is and if it has any impact on marketers and your world. There are lots of ways people use (and misuse) the term, but for purposes of this column, let's say that big data is marketing data that is multi-structured (not linear or easily aligned to a structured database format) and sourced from multiple customer interactions. This might include clickstream (website visits), behavioral insights, email and SMS response data, social posts and tweets, and search keyword activity.
In essence, big data disrupts marketing. It upsets the normal "container" of marketing data, because the unstructured and multi-structured formats don't match the kinds of one-to-one relationship of data element with database field (the way that structured data works). It upsets the CRM paradigm because it's fluid, hard to sort and prioritize, and not always attributable to a specific person. It also disrupts the infrastructure capital expenditure budget - big data is just that: big.
Do not be afraid. Gartner has reported that competitive advantage goes to those who tap into this disruption of data. There are plenty of opportunities that involve harnessing big data and making sense of it. At one level, it's important to just ask questions of the data. You can only make better decisions if you utilize the gems hidden in your vast data storehouses. Better, imagine what you could do if you could use all the data you have. And I mean: All. The. Data. That is pretty exciting. You'd be doing things like social community relationship analysis, persona-based segmentations, behavioral modeling, path to purchase analysis, real-time offer management, multi-touch attribution analysis, advertising and media analysis, and more.
Truthfully, it's an incredible opportunity, but it can be a frustrating challenge to get your arms around.
One area where marketers are optimizing their investments in big data analysis is in the area of digital marketing attribution, which is itself the first step to digital marketing optimization. Most attribution today is last click, more for the complexity in managing data than from marketer choice. But now that we are tapping big data, attribution analysis can track behavioral insights and better understand and serve customers who are interacting across an expanding universe of multiple channels, touch points, and data sources - everything from email to search, digital advertising, websites, and social media.
The volume and complexity of new data sources require advanced analytics beyond "last-touch" or "last-click" attribution. To make accurate budgeting decisions, marketers need to take into account multi-channel, multi-touch purchasing cycles. Consider two examples of how attribution could work for you:
Data-driven marketers must think differently. Our customers expect it, and our markets demand it. Consider these types of initiatives for your own organization, where digital marketing attribution can help:
What is your story around attribution? Are you on a path to tap the disruption of data or are you sticking with last-click attribution models? Share with us your learnings below.
This column was originally published on March 5, 2012 on ClickZ.
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Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.
March 19, 2014