Big data has become a customer marketing buzzword. As an industry, we were told that it was going to change the way we acquire and engage with customers. Without a doubt, the potential is huge but for some people, the reality has not lived up to the expectations. Much of the time this stems from trying to do everything at once. What happened to patience being a virtue?

Making sense of the big data

Cloud storage and cloud-based analytics tools have opened up big data to a much broader set of businesses. Having access to as much data as possible would certainly sound like a positive thing. However, the challenge now lies in making sense of such vast quantities of it.

Customer experience now flows through multiple channels and touchpoints. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer breadth and depth of available customer data. This is what some brands fail to understand. The data is worthless until you transform it into insight but doing so is quite challenging. Extracting information all at once is often unwieldy and complex. The only way you can do it and succeed in your data strategy is by understanding what is of value and in which contexts.

Marketers typically need insight into which channels drive most engagement and acquisition. This knowledge will allow customer marketing teams to recognize their brand advocates and channels they should use to reach them.

Asking the right questions

If brands want to get the mentioned insights, they should focus on asking the right questions and examining the answers to better understand the nuance. For example, they should determine at what point in the funnel are customers dropping off and where the additional resource needs to go for addressing this.

The most practical approach is to focus on specific touchpoints in the customer journey. This will aid in determining campaign attribution and ROI at a micro-level as well as provide measurements that can be aggregated on a macro basis.

For example, a mortgage application is a particularly complex user journey. It is likely to have a high acquisition value for the lender, whilst also containing a significant volume of two-way communication. This could include multiple channels, branches, mobile, web and more, as well as additional communications with third parties.

All this instrumented data is too complex to analyse all at once. I would, therefore, recommend simplifying the analysis of the mortgage application customer journey from the initial inquiry to the full conversion. You can do this by picking out and analysing the pivotal parts such as where and how the customer is acquired. Recognizing the stages of the highest drop-off numbers are also important. You can then broaden the process if you need it to be more granular or contextual.

To understand the big picture, it’s sometimes necessary to focus on the specific part or parts that will provide the most value in line with your strategic requirements. Starting small with big data is sometimes the most beneficial business path.

Knowing the value of your big data

In an omnichannel world, specifying macro-objectives at the outset will most likely result in failure. On the other hand, focusing on specific parts of your big data silo will reveal exactly where on the customer journey the stumbling blocks lie. This will furthermore allow you to reach and nurture your most valuable audience segments.

Following all of this, marketers should try to decide what data is important at any given time. A layered approach will allow them to ask more questions and further investigate the initial insights, building the big-picture story. It’s important, though, to avoid isolated actions. Gathering micro insights and reaching greater depth behind data is what creates the true value.

The smallest insights will help you form a more rounded picture of your customers and their engagement with the journeys. At this level of understanding, you will manage to develop initiatives to increase customer value, as you improve the overall experience.

Starting small with big data

Don’t let the size of the data cloud your vision. It’s good to step back and think closely about what’s really important and where the true value lies – for your customers and you. In a data-driven industry, quantity doesn’t guarantee quality. Sometimes, the smallest tweaks can make a huge difference to the entire customer experience. In fact, they can even be a crucial factor for customers deciding to stay with you or leave to competitors.  

Again, starting small with big data might be best. It’s essential to look at the details as much as the future and the big business picture. Yes, taking a lens to the micro may take longer, but it will be worth it in the long term.

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