Is This The Year Of Big Data For Marketing?

Big-Data-MarketingA recent prediction for marketing in 2014 comes from Rebecca Borison, assistant editor with Mobile Marketer.

She covers Forrester’s latest marketing report “Predictions 2014: Marketing Leaders Put Insights To Use. Big Data Makes Way For Smart Data Across Social, Mobile, And Media“.

According to Rebecca, Forrester predicts that Big Data will have a significant impact on marketing in 2014.

She cites this quote from Melissa Parrish, research director and principal analyst at Forrester:

“In 2014, big data will finally be put to good use as marketers stop waiting for insights to reveal themselves and start finding actionable paths through the information. This effort will affect channels across the marketing ecosystem, further breaking down the siloes that separate interactive and traditional marketing vehicles.”

The report also predicts that more marketers will begin to utilize “affinity data” or information on user’s likes, preferences and interests, to better target individuals with content that is personalized to their interests.

The report also predicts that marketers will begin to take advantage of the “internet of things” and all the smart devices that will be increasingly connected to us through our mobile devices.

My Take

I don’t disagree with what may become more important for marketers in 2014. I am more interested in why they become more important.

I predicted that marketing in 2014 will be about culture, data and content. And that marketing leaders will need to show the courage to fight treaditional pressures to pay to promote marketing messages that no customer wants and that give marketers a bad reputation.

In posts earlier last year I also talked about Big Data and the Internet of Things.

Big Data for Marketing is more about the questions than the answers. More about the insights than the technology. More about what’s behind the data and understanding why data is getting so big.

There are already twice as many “things” connected on the internet than people. And that number is projected to rise to 50 Billion connected devices by 2020.

The “Internet of Things” will allow us all to become smarter marketers. I do not believe it will impact only consumer-based businesses as logistics, partner ecosystems, sales relationships and product development – all can be improved with better insights and connectivity.

Ultimately, I believe the combination of the Internet of Things along with social, web and analytics “Big Data” will allow the truly social business of the future to gain feedback and insights into our buyers unlike never before.

The Big Data opportunity for marketing lies in defining how Big Data can help you better reach your customers with your messages in a way that gets them to act. And this starts with simple questions like: how did your last campaign perform? Which keywords drive conversions? What websites did my prospects visit before they came to my sites? Which social conversations are spurring the actions that lead to deeper engagement with your brand?

What do you think? Is 2014 the year of Big Data?


Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

8 thoughts on “Is This The Year Of Big Data For Marketing?

  1. I believe big data will continue to be talked about and properly utilized by the top 1% of savvy marketers, but for the main stream marketer, it will continue to be like the mystic marketing leprechaun. In other words, something they will continue to search for and talk about in group settings in hopes of scoring a higher ROI and pot of gold, but have no clue how to actually find, capture or put ‘big data’ to work when they return to their cubical. Not until larger numbers of innovative companies develop turn key ways to generate easy to understand and actionable insights from big data will it become ‘the year of big data’.

    I believe that marketers in 2014 will continue to make inroads to get closer to capturing the big data ‘leprechaun’. Instead, the year will pick up where 2013 left off with continued focus on the needs and wants of the individual reader, and a focus on understanding what qualified customers are most interested in, so that sales and marketing professionals can automate delivery of that relevant content, or product specific information, based on where that prospect is in the buying cycle.

  2. Michael, while I generally agree with Steve’s premise, I think we can consider big data in marketing more broadly as well. (strange to say, as it isn’t particularly well defined for many marketers either).

    Consider the algorithmic learning and optimization a DSP does across billions of impressions with 100’s of data points per impression, all for a single marketer. While it may be a limited application, it is something many marketers are embracing (with mixed results I’ll add, but that isn’t a fault of the premise of big data).

    Going a slightly different direction, (a DSP) provides access to more granular data. Instead of 100’s of segments, you might have millions.

    Social media is another space where some of the ideas of big data are being applied, and marketers are making use of them. A question marketers are starting to use this information to answer: What types of conversations are predictive of someone in market? Others are using it to identify emerging trends, like watching for words paired with their brand or category name and identifying emerging pairing and those that are trending up or down (simplified example of far cooler things real data geeks can do with this data).

    When we look at it this way, marketers may not be sophisticated yet, but many of the tools they are using are giving them some of the benefits of big data today. Now, instead of pursuing big shiny data infrastructures and software, they need to pursue information or insight they can’t get today using these existing solutions. When that leads to their own big data toolsets, it will be because they really have an application for it.

    Nice post Michael!

  3. Hi Michael

    This is another one of those repackaged marketing terms being sold to sell books, give talks, and bill clients about. Native Ads. Social Business. Big Data. They have existed for years and years (some like Social Business have existed since the first barter transaction occurred in 10,000BC). So I feel the answer is yes. 2014 is the year. As was last year and the year before that and the year after this.

    Businesses have crunched data forever. I remember in the mid-90’s and I was trained as an ISO9001 auditor and my employer used constant improvement metrics. Our vendors were moving to SAP which was/is a big data platform especially for procurement chains. Then in the mid-2000’s my new employer was using lean manufacturing and working on Six Sigma. Sales has always used Big Data. Marketing too. Just now the tools are less expensive and data is more widely available to the average person. Google Analytics is Big Data.

    So I feel marketing needs to stop with the hype of jargon and focus on the nuts and bolts. We should be talking about what I just said. How the small businesses with limited resources can now have data tools available that previously they had to pay for from the likes of Oracle, SAP, Vocus, etc. I mine data from the media. I crunch numbers with my finance background daily. The key is training people who to look for the data and use it. Marketers tend to pick and choose what data they use (subjective). For example the average Facebook user engages with each brand page they LIKE less than 1x per year. I didn’t need a Database to find that data just math.

    1. Thanks Howie, I think I’m agreeing with you. Forget the buzzword and just focus on meeting your customer needs. Data is a component but the big hurdle is having the culture and the mindset to put customers ahead of internal politics.

  4. I don’t think some businesses are going to have the option to ignore big data. For some organizations making smart marketing decisions is going to come directly from big data.

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