Big Data: How Smart Companies are Transforming Marketing Strategies

By Tatiana Torres

I’m sure you’ve heard of Big Data before, but besides looking up its meaning on Wikipedia, how far did you go to understand why it’s actually really important for you and your business? The web is crowded with articles that give you a technical point of view on what Big Data is, but content about marketers using Big Data to inform their strategies is rare, so that’s why I decided it was time to dive deep into this ocean of information.

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, if it’s a small business or a big corporation, or even what your position is. Every single individual in the company should understand how to turn Big Data into a Big Business. It can be the present for some companies, but Big Data is definitely the future for most companies.

Are We Still Talking About Data?

Yes. As individuals, every Google search we do, every website we visit, the music we listen to or the #hashtags we share on social media, and even the stuff we buy, leaves behind an online trail of valuable data about who we are. Are you still questioning Big Data’s size? Take a closer look at what people, just like you and me, have been doing in the digital world in a single minute.

Image: Domo

Big Data is probably a tender way to call the unmeasurable amount of data we are generating. Too large, incredibly complex and scarily dynamic for any conventional tool to capture, store, manage and analyze. Big Data is actually a simplistic term that refers to how the usage of technology can automatically track, gather and manage the relevant data to your business, on a large scale.

So, What’s the Science Behind Big Data?

Structured data has existed for a long time. If you’re a results-driven marketer like me, you probably love your spreadsheet full of numbers and charts. You know how much traffic the website had, where visitors clicked, and what they purchased. It’s all important analytical data related to you or your client’s business performance.

But imagine how you could improve your product or service with negative customer feedback from a competitor’s customers on Twitter. As a marketer, how do you structure behavior and sentiments in a spreadsheet? Technology is certainly an important factor in this process, but owning big data doesn’t necessarily mean Big Marketing success.

“Data is only assets if you can make value out of it.”

– Nick Orsman, Proximity London

Big Data’s science involves the way you analyze, interpret and prioritize each algorithm. How do you correlate data, what valuable insights you can extract, and of course, how do you creatively apply this knowledge to produce best in class products, deliver a unique customer experience and reach the right customers with the right marketing message?

OK, But What’s the Big Advantage?

The advantage of Big Data is not related to the data itself, but to all business benefits you can possibly get from using the data strategically across the organization. According to a McKinsey & Company report, it can help increase productivity, reduce costs and support better decisions. It can represent a whole new dimension of ROI (Return on Investment) to the C-Level.

Big Strategies to Drive Big Growth and Revenue

Let’s face it, as simple as it may be, every company works for a common goal: profit. The secret of a successful Big Data strategy is to search for the missing piece, the one thing that will actually help your business to grow. It sounds easy, but it’s not. A lot of companies lose focus, waste time and efforts collecting and analyzing data that will not have a big impact in their results. So, before you start, ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What’s preventing me from selling more?
  2. What type of information would help me sell more?

The Big Data strategy will be unique to your company and needs. But, a little benchmark can always work as inspiration to new and creative ways to generate positive results. So, here is my contribution to your Big Marketing Plan, considering each step of the marketing funnel:


To get more insights about your customer behavior and needs, consider monitoring the social media networks where your current customers are. H&R Block discovered more than 1 million unanswered tax preparation questions on Facebook and Twitter, and got a 15% lift in business using a simple Q&A strategy.


Once you know your customer, you can reach new prospects using targeted advertising. Intercontinental Hotel gathered data from its 71 million Rewards Program’s members, customized 1,552 marketing messages in a new campaign, and got a 35% higher rate of customer conversions, only by reaching the right prospects with the right message.


Email marketing is a useful tool to acquire new customers, but Big Data definitely took it to another level. Volvo integrated its CRM and email marketing strategy using Big Data technologies. Now it allows them to power data-driven messages, sending dynamic content and live offers to prospect customers.

Image: Technorati


Your website should be designed to convert prospects into customers, specially if you are an e-commerce. But it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Etsy monitored traffic patterns in real time to uncover ongoing issues that were causing visitors to drop off pages, implemented an optimization strategy and increased the percentage of site visitors who end up buying products.


A customer is not necessarily a recurring customer. T-Mobile used Big Data to combine customer transactions and social media interactions in order to better predict customer defections, which was cut in half in a single quarter.

Image: The Economic Times

How Do I Get the Most Out of a Big Marketing Strategy?

Regardless of its business benefits, Big Data is actually becoming a competitive advantage for those companies that know how to wisely use available and relevant data. Companies that ignore this trend are wasting an opportunity to better understand customers behaviors, and to grow healthier and faster in the global market.

To get the most of a Big Marketing strategy, start small, focused on your business needs and take one step at a time. Your customers don’t expect that you know everything about them, but they do expect you work to provide better experiences along the way.

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