Big Data. Is it really the Holy Grail?

Big Data – it does what it says on the tin…. It’s data, lots of data. They are two words that can frighten not only marketeers, but consumers alike and they are words that are too easily banded around in our modern marketing world. It’s all very nice having hundreds of thousands of contacts sat in a database, but big data often means that it’s harder to get to insight that might not be worth the effort to get to. Are those contacts even relevant to what you are trying to achieve from your marketing? One thing to consider about Big Data is that Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of who is and isn’t capturing their data, and they are more territorial over any information that might be stored on them. Google and the ‘right to be forgotten’ is a clear indication that consumers are standing up for their rights, which has lead to a new EU ruling on data protection. But for me, more importantly, let’s not forget that we are all human, we aren’t just a Unique Reference Number in a big data set. Who wants to be run through an algorithm to determine whether or not you are worthy of receiving a piece of marketing communication? I want to receive emails or DM’s based on the fact that a company has begun to know me as a person and my habits around marketing, and I’m not just talking about marketing automation here. I want to know that there is a person considering human quirks when picking who to send that email to, not some soulless computer server sat in some bland warehouse on an industrial estate. I don’t want to be sent the details of a newly launched car just based on the fact that it’s the new model from what I bought two years ago. I am challenging companies to be more savvy than that. Take into consideration that I am a woman, that I am a certain age, what tyres I have bought to replace those fitted by the manufacturer – that I opened and clicked through on other emails that you’ve more than likely already sent me. Have you even considered, that I might want to move on from that model? Yes this can be drawn from Big Data, but it can also be captured in smaller data sets. How about rather than worrying about big data – we just use, to maximum capability the data that we do have in our smaller data sets? Yes, I know it’s not on trend, but you can still gather great insight from the smaller side of data. Who of you has a data set with 100k plus contacts and can honestly say that they are sending those contacts on a personalised consumer journey? It takes a steely and slightly brave marketeer to decide and admit that their data is in a slightly dubious state, and to ‘start again’ with their database is what is needed in order to increase consumer engagement, but ladies and gentleman that is exactly where we are with one of our clients. It’s such a fresh place to be in, we can do testing to the data, whittle out the deadwood in their big database to get to the core contacts that are going to help the brand grow and get their consumers to become brand ambassadors. We can choose to ignore the insight that we know today and open our eyes to new insights that might even contradict the insight that we thought we knew to be true. Big Data has a time and a place, but remember that time and place may not be now, and that’s OK because really the consumer needs to come first in marketing.

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