If the words “big data” get your pulse racing, make you toss and turn at night, or, worse still, prompt countless internal meetings about how to deal with it all, you are not alone. Marketers, particularly retailers, are dealing with massive volumes of customer data coming at them from a multitude of channels and myriad customer touchpoints. Those touchpoints house a wealth of intelligence on customer preferences, habits, and desires that could help you strengthen your relationship with your customer. Many marketers are looking at this data for retail content marketing inspiration.
Yet retailers are not entirely sure about how to get their arms around the growing volumes of data, much less how to derive meaning from and act on it. The good news is that collecting and using customer information is nothing new. Retailers have always studied customer patterns, looked for what motivates people, and built relationships with customers by telling them engaging stories and giving them what they want. Now, they’re just attempting to map content to those behaviors as a way to respond and engage with them online.
Skyword’s new eBook, “Rising Above Big Data: How Marketers Can Turn Insight Into Action,” delivers a process and promise to retailers to help them understand how to manage big data and turn insight into action.
No matter how quickly we collect and analyze it, data is always historical. The most we can hope to get from data is an accurate view of what happened in the past and identify patterns. But, if you look at data in a certain way—structured around people, places and things, for instance—you can establish context, derive meaning from the data, and learn a lot about your customers and their preferences. And, if you can learn enough about your customers’ behavior, you can start to predict what your customers might want, then target them very personally with messaging, content, and offers.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Davis, founder and CEO of Davis Brand Capital, a brand consultant to Fortune 100 companies. Davis said the predictive nature of where data is going is the big story.
“One of the most interesting questions,” Davis said, “is how do we get into an age of predictive content?” Getting from big data sets to predicting what your customers might want even before they know what they want is doable, he said.
Davis suggests wading into the data pool by starting small. Pick pilots tied to a specific business objective. For instance, let’s say you want to understand how to attract a particular demographic—young women between the ages of 18 and 22—to a certain department or new concept. You might opt to look at segmentation data on women of that age. What kind of content are they engaging with? When do they engage? When are they are most receptive to content? What do they do with the content? What makes them click and convert?
Don’t get lost in the data and the numbers. Stay focused on the fact that you’re analyzing the data to figure out how to engage with your potential customers in a new way. If you want to further refine your insights, track touchpoints of current 18-to-22-year-old customers.
Next, analyze the collected data from a marketer’s point of view to determine how best to reach, engage, and convert your customers. A recent MasterCard study of online consumers found that respondents know their personal data provides value to merchants and advertisers, and the majority appreciate companies personally tailoring offers to them. So, you’ll need to deliver customer experiences that are personalized, timely, and relevant. A surefire way to do that is by developing a solid content marketing strategy.
Big data tells a story about your customer and can help you understand how to better serve and convert customers. Content marketing will get you there by creating a more personalized and authentic relationship with your customer.
“Retailers love telling stories, they love pleasing customers, love making sales,” Davis said. “This is still about getting closer to human beings, this is about human behavior and knowing what people are going to want.”
To deliver engaging content, you’ll need a content marketing strategy that will help you react quickly and effectively in multiple channels. The following are some tips:
The bottom line is, dip your toe into the pool of big data. Pick a pilot, have defined objectives, and test the waters with a content marketing strategy that pitches to your target group.
To start untangling the big data web, download Skyword’s new eBook on making insight actionable.