Perhaps it’s inherent in the name, but it’s easy to feel threatened by ‘big data’. When your career is built on years of experience and an inherent understanding of clients and customers, big data can feel like a sterile, ruthless machine – all knowledge, no heart. Hardly the answer to engaging a new generation of customers. And yet…
You know the potential power of data. But you also know that data alone isn’t enough to win new customers. Even the device you’re reading this on, with enough power and intelligence to let you find information on anything, anywhere, is a useless hunk of metal and plastic without the skill and creativity to use it properly. Big data, then, isn’t a plug in and play answer to doing magical new things with your CRM. The Tin Man needs a heart. Which is where you come in.
Quality data not quantity
Too often we seem intent on creating a kind of informational landfill – mountains of material gathered for no great purpose, left to grow exponentially so the likelihood of it ever proving useful becomes less and less.
Data shouldn’t be like this. It should be purpose driven – precise information gathered to solve an identified problem; not sweepingly general and gathered ‘just in case’. The quantity of the data is never as important as the insight it delivers and the impact it creates.
So to give you the answers that can drive your next CRM campaign, first you need to ask your data the right questions. In part, those questions should be guided by target audience understanding, adding fact to existing experiential knowledge to create the firmest of bedrocks for your campaign. But the right questions can also help you find other insights too, helping you use tight budgets more effectively, reaching a better defined audience with traditional methods, or exploiting new and multiple channels.
Used in this way, data becomes an enabler, removing much of the ‘test and test again’ routine of traditional CRM, replacing it with insight that helps you cut to the chase faster.
Finding real insight in data
The answers that lie within your data can’t be found using traditional analysis techniques. The volume of data is too great and the analysis tools too crude. Instead the information needs to be refined and segmented, creating manageable blocks of information from the unwieldy mass.
It’s a continuous, iterative process, with far reaching benefits:
- Your questions answered: The insights you receive directly address the issues your business faces. This is data that makes a difference, not data for data’s sake.
- Adding depth to your data: The insights you receive have been tested and tested again, giving them a rigour and credibility you can rely on.
- Detail: Big data doesn’t have to mean big overviews. With an agile approach you can uncover highly specific, nuanced insights relating to the smallest segments.
- Control: An agile approach to big data keeps you in control of it, making it easier to manage the information you need when you need it.
- Predictive power: Because when you have trust in and control over your data you can reliably use it to predict customer trends.
- Cost-effective: Data helps narrow focuses and improve targeting, so more of your budget is targeted at the people most likely to respond.
Data with heart
Data isn’t CRM. Without the experience to ask the right questions of it and the analytical skills to interpret what it tells you, it isn’t even insight. But it can be a crucial element of both.
Of course, greater audience understanding doesn’t automatically give you greater power to engage with customers. That comes from letting the data inform the creative. That’s where the role of data stops, because data can predict who will be listening, where and when, and it can measure the effects of the campaigns you produce, but data can’t grab attentions, form relationships and imagine creative concepts out of thin air. That takes heart.
How has breaking down your big data built your understanding of your customers or helped solve your business issues? Tell us below.