Brian Kohlmann

Group Leader, Account Management

R-E-L-A-X: Turn big data into insight and action

With so much written in recent years about how to use big data to improve your marketing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by it all. Don’t be. In fact, if you approach big data with the wrong mindset, you’re likely to be scared off or go in the wrong direction.

Avoid those options. Exhale, and take the better course. In the word of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “Relax.” That five-letter word is going to do wonders for you.

Rodgers used the term to calm anxious fans. You can use it for your marketing team. If you remember to R-E-L-A-X, it will help you start small with a plan that builds to bigger things. Think of those five letters as a way to get started.

R — Relevance: So, what are you trying to accomplish? Start with the end in mind. Determine upfront what data you want to capture or already have and what you want to do with it. Make it relevant.  Are you using it to enhance your products? Are you trying to drive communications channels? Maybe you just want to use it to improve your content. Whatever the case, it has to translate into something your customer or prospect will notice.

Consider how Avis Budget Group, Inc., the car rental giant, has used big data to better understand who its customers are and how to offer them more value. The company and its consultants analyzed a mountain of information to improve customer engagement, build “customer lifetime value models” and make better decisions about its fleet and its pricing.

E — Evolution: The process of capturing and distilling data evolves over time. Have a process for gathering information and let it develop. Capture small nuggets at first and build to larger, more complex profiles. Start with the low-hanging fruit.

BR continues to evolve its approach to harnessing a wide spectrum of behavioral and performance data. In the past, our analysts and channel experts might have visited multiple dashboards —for Facebook, Google AdWords, PointRoll, etc. — to measure performance and gain insights on what’s resonating with an audience. Now, BR has a single platform that brings together key performance metrics across a large set of media partners. It provides an efficient and extremely effective way to optimize the full spectrum of communications we manage for our clients.

L — Leverage: Let the data tell you what resonates with the target audience/segments. What does it tell you about your target audience? Leverage the data to customize your communications. Personalize it. Consider it to deliver the right message to the right audience through the right channel at the right time. Build profiles of your target audience for deeper understanding.

ModCloth, an online fashion retailer, has used big data to develop personalization strategies for its customers. Its “Be the Buyer” polls — which show products and encourage users to “pick it or skip it” — has yielded important information on style preferences. It creates a more unique buying experience. And it encourages more communications (and a deeper relationship) between brand and customer.

A — Action: Once you have the information, do something about it. Take what you know and implement it quickly. Take action based on the data you have available. Your agility will help you gain an edge.

This video from Splunk Inc., which serves up data for Domino’s Pizza, shows how information helps the company make real-time adjustments to what it offers customers. For example, how successful is a particular coupon? Transaction data can inform those kinds of decisions. “Domino’s has almost turned itself into a technology company that happens to just sell pizza on the side,” said Russ Turner, site reliability engineering manager for Domino’s.

X — Experimentation: Keep in mind, there is not necessarily a clear right or wrong answer to what you’re doing. Experiment with the data. Test different communications tactics. Test different hypotheses. Once you test the tactics, adjust for your next iteration and try again.

Ford Motor Company is starting to think of itself as something beyond an automaker. It’s using data as a gateway to address societal issues. How to solve transportation issues. How to build smarter roads. Lower insurance rates. Car sharing. Better parking. To do all of that, it is experimenting and testing.

Don’t let what you’re trying to accomplish overwhelm you. Collaborate with everyone on your team about the data you have, the goals you want to achieve and what you need to get there. By starting small, you can build from it and get excited. Remember to RELAX, and you will be one step closer to driving results.

Industry: Multi-Industry

Topic: Marketing, Metrics

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