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Marketing teams need to realise the full potential of data to help create more engaging campaigns

It’s said that great marketers have guts. Steve Jobs, arguably one of the greatest marketers ever, famously ignored anything that had to do with market research because he didn't believe customers knew what they wanted until presented to them. However, big data and technology has clearly revolutionised marketing in the way it gives access to information to better support a company and serve customers.
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As the digital revolution has allowed us to access a broader set of services and communicate without boundaries, it has also shifted the power to the consumers who are now demanding more and better choices in a very competitive market place, putting pressure on businesses to catch up with expectations.

Still, most marketers would prefer to be like Steve Jobs. They take pride in their marketing guts and to follow their instinct, which ultimately makes it hard for them to succeed in the era of Big Data. Having said that, the future of marketing doesn’t simply lie in technology nor in intuition, but the successful integration in both of them; it all boils down to using marketing guts to make proper use of big data.

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Out with the old and in with the new

It is safe to say that technology has changed the way we make decisions. We’ve gone from basing our decisions on “scientific” studies and “statistical significance” to predominately relying upon data to tell us what to do.

Big data presents unlimited opportunities to marketers but they must know how to use it – there’s no point of having data for the sake of having it. Unless it helps making decisions of any measurable impact, data in itself is rather meaningless. And with the vast volume of data available, many decision makers struggle to turn this into their own advantage and instead become tangled rather than enlightened, and as a result, too much time is consumed on each project that the insight goes stale before it can be used.

From IT managers to marketing managers 

IT managers used to be the ones dealing with data. However, somewhere over the last few years, marketers have picked up on the fact that such data could provide an unprecedented insight into consumer behaviour, allowing them to tailor campaigns accordingly to have customers coming back time and time again.

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That’s the dream scenario. Unfortunately, few marketing teams are realising the full potential of data to help create more engaging campaigns. Today, channel-surfing customers provide brands with lots of information about their interests and aspirations, so with big data measures in place, brands can use these insights to their advantage. By listening to customers and understanding that decision journey is critical to identifying battlegrounds to either win new customers or keep existing ones from defecting to competitors.

Yet, successful discovery isn’t just about looking at your own customer base as it also requires pulling in data externally to then develop “destination thinking,” which is writing down in simple sentences the business problems they want to solve or questions they want answered. In a nutshell, using data to specifically unlock new opportunities requires looking at data in a new way.

Marketing and sales leaders need to develop complete pictures of their customers so they can create messages and products that are relevant to them. To do this, big data becomes a necessity. 

Don’t miss the boat 

As a result of big bata insights, more and more brands are prioritising a marketing strategy that’s efficient, effective and connective. With the opportunity of being armed with insights that prove return on investment whilst providing intelligence into sales and customer reactions, today’s CMO should attempt to optimise the marketing engine with digital. Digital is a measurable and targeted way to reach these hyper-connected audiences, who are connected to the web 24/7 and use numerous devices to view online media content.

Next steps

For smart marketers, big data presents huge opportunities, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that it’s the marketers that are driving the big data initiative. Know how to interpret and action your insights correctly and you can transform your relationships with customers, keep them coming back and ultimately, boost your bottom line.

However, this fundamental shift in marketing can only happen with the use of big data to foster engagement at scale. The world of brand marketing has shifted from brands communicating at people through mass communications, to a world where brands are created, built and amplified to communicate with people through a mass of communicators.

Ultimately, big data will enable brand marketers to genuinely understand, measure the impact of, and effectively targeted investments against their efforts to engage in social; and thus allocate meaningful brand marketing money to social engagement initiatives amplified by paid media support. 

Without a doubt has big data become a vital part of any marketer’s repertoire, but it’s now time to turn it into big action.

Glen Westlake is founder and director of Kairos Analytics.

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