The age of “big data” is upon us. It sounds crazy, but data on where you went for lunch, how many steps you took in a day, the temperature of your house, and the quality of your sleep last night is out there — probably in a giant server room waiting to be analyzed. The point is: wearables, phone applications, and other technology are tracking and recording so much data that nobody really knows what to do with it. In fact, according to the International Data Corporation, by 2020 there will be “as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe.” However, when analyzed, this “big data” can reveal trends and behaviors that prior analytics were not able to show.
So, from a marketing standpoint, what can we expect from “big data” as it evolves over the next few years? The main benefit that could come from analyzing massive amounts of personal data is more accurate audience segmenting. Big data will allow us to make far fewer assumptions about consumer behavior that has historically been based on generic demographics. Instead of grouping people into broad categories, we will be able to micro-segment audiences based on attitudes and behaviors. Net result: Combine a strong marketing message with micro-segmentation and you have a more accurate chance of reaching your target audience.
Another key advantage of utilizing big data is more efficient budgeting. By taking the guesswork out of segmenting, ads can reach exactly the right person at the right time and through their preferred method of delivery, which leads to smarter spending. Say someone checks in to Chipotle via FourSquare every Wednesday at lunch time. They could be served an ad on Wednesday morning about a new burrito place that just opened around the corner from them — warm food for a ‘hotter lead’. Efficiently spending marketing dollars will make for very happy marketers, and even happier clients!
Now we’re saying all of this without acknowledging a key part of the “big data” picture—personal privacy. When you remove the whole “privacy” aspect from the equation, big data can change the marketing game. However, people are still (rightfully so) skeptical of sharing their personal data on such a large scale. Some experts believe that we will reach a point where so many people agree to share their data that it becomes a stigma not to. Once the privacy hurdle has been successfully addressed, marketers will then be able to reach their audiences more effectively than ever before.
But remember to consider small data too! Small data is still crucial in this world of analytics, so make sure you are using it to your advantage. Leveraging your website with Google Analytics is a great place to start. Check out our post about our favorite dashboard templates to use with Google analytics.