Overcoming The Big Data Dilemma

03.01.19 // Angela Earl

Marketers have been focused on the notion of big data for several years now. Many are drowning in data, and finding valuable insights feels more impossible than a needle in a haystack. Too often they have so much “big” data that none is being acted upon—and decisions are left up to gut feelings and guesswork.

As a self-professed data junkie, I understand the draw to big data. In our increasingly noisy world, serving relevant content is required and data becomes a cornerstone to marketing’s success.

The answers lie somewhere in the heap of data clogging up the many connected systems marketers have. But even with the surge of recent business intelligence and analytics software, they are struggling to wrangle, manage, process, and translate all the data into something actionable.

A good friend of mine is a professional organizer. She tells her clients that are paralyzed by overwhelm to, “Start with what you know, first.”

So, let’s set aside all this big data for a moment and talk about simple data. Because many marketers seeking to get something out of big data are often not taking advantage of the small data.

Here are three ways to use your data to be relevant:

Listen To Your Website Visitors

Many of us have heard the statistic published by Forrester that “today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out for a salesperson.” This can be a frightening thought for marketers trying to reach and nurture possible leads.

Take a look at your site visitors, specifically where they are going. Take a look at which pages are most visited and where visitors go from these pages. Are they taking the path you expected them to?

“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than doubling your traffic.” 

– Bryan Eisenberg

Look closely at what they are engaging with. You may even consider a tool like Crazy Egg, which can help you understand how visitors engage with your website to boost conversions.

Continually Expand What You Know

We marketers often assume we know our audience, but this assumption can lead to poor program performance. Open rate is frequently called a vanity metric, because of the tendency to throw it up on a slide and call it a success.

But the open rate statistic does answer one very important question: Are you capturing your audience’s attention?

Many marketing automation tools have built-in A/B testing functionality to run tests against a portion of your list and send the winner to the rest. Take advantage of this automated mechanism.

Test something with every send to continually expand what you know about your audience, and how to elicit the best response to your messages.

Operate From A Solid Foundation

Of the emails you send, how many actually reach their destination? According to MarketingSherpa, 2.1% of contact data goes bad every month. That’s almost 25% per year.

You may be talking—even shouting—to an empty room. Take a look at your deliverability rate. How does it measure up to the 37% average?

Your data management strategy plays a big part in how effective your team can be. Put together a plan to regularly update contact details and delete bad data from your systems. When you identify bad data, look carefully at where it entered your system and make changes at the source to improve the overall quality.

If you’re staring at your heap of big data, the “start with what you know” advice points directly to the best starting point—pick a single data point, press in, and learn what you can.