The promise of Big Data has been an exciting idea for marketing analysts worldwide. The potential of targeting customers based on not just transaction history and standard demographic profiles but also on highly individualized patterns like social media behaviour and browsing patterns is extraordinary, and marketing analysts have been quick to embrace the concept of Big Data
How does Big Data impact marketing efforts? As discussed, traditionally marketing relied on aggregated transactional data supplemented by limited customer demographic data and for a smaller percentage of customers, loyalty data to understand, segment, profile, and target customers. Clearly differentiated strategies are better than a one size fits all approach. The same idea can now be expanded to create differentiated, personalized marketing outreach at a micro level with mini segments or even individuals. Customers are increasingly expecting customization in their life experiences, and that extends also to brands that they buy into.
As with any new technology however, implementation has not necessarily kept pace with potential. As with any Big Data system, part of the problem is how to keep pace with the volume of data being generated, with such high variety. While data is being compiled, not all data is of the same quality or usefulness. Keeping pace with such massive amounts of data, in structured, semi structured, and unstructured formats, is a big barrier to many. The other problem is to effectively measure the impact of Big Data investment, in terms of incremental ROI.
What is clear however is that Big Data application to marketing is here to stay. There are many success stories already – like using location data realtime to offer discounts at nearest stores, to being able to target customers to different landing pages on an e-commerce site based on their browsing history. While there is a lot of hype around Big Data, and it is not necessarily the solution to every problem, companies and their marketing functions can certainly not ignore the implications of the transformational power of Big Data in the medium to long run.