As countless marketers have argued (myself included), the age of big data brings with it a slew of insights that can help create more focused and personalized campaigns. What's not often said is that "can" is both a central and conditional word.
Big data left in its rawest form without effective tools and teams for processing it leaves many marketing teams feeling like they're drowning in numbers, or even like they're "clogged" with data, unsure what their next move should be. This leads to cherry-picking of data, confirmation bias, and just blatantly missing key insights, all under the guise of "smarter marketing."
However, data-driven marketing isn't a completely lost cause; in fact, data is still a crucial part of any marketing strategy, and it's becoming more so all the time. But to really understand what the stats are telling you, it's important to develop clear and well-thought-out strategies for turning raw numbers into insights that can be quickly applied to a real-world setting.
One way to begin developing a framework from which to analyze raw data is through useful agile marketing practices. Let's dig a little deeper into the problems marketers encounter when trying to master big data, and what agile marketing can do about it.
Problems With Big Data-Driven Marketing
When you're working with big data, your data set is, well, big. In fact, it may very well be the demographics and behavior of several million people. That's why even giants like Facebook and Yahoo evaluate data in clusters, in which data is broken into many different parts and processed by collections of powerful servers. But even that can still be overwhelming, and the sheer mass of numbers can lead to or stem from the following related problems.
Big data improperly processed and managed can actually do more harm than good, as it can distract teams from more qualitative approaches. However, data-driven marketing is incredibly powerful when combined with agile practices, which forces marketing teams to focus their goals and work more closely with IT teams to curate and interpret smaller sets of data and act upon insights. In this new world, data and agility should go hand-in-hand to create the most highly personalized customer experience possible. Data-driven agile marketing is just the thing.
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Adria Saracino is the head of outreach at Distilled, a creative online marketing agency. When not consulting on content strategy or leading her team of outreach warriors, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.
March 19, 2014