The Promise of the Big Data Era

Recently a DM News article titles “Big Data Must create Big Experiences”, direct marketing veteran Ernan Roman highlighted that for all of the information that is being collected, marketers apparently aren’t doing much about it.

An appraisal of the brand and loyalty marketing emails received by many reveals that only a few of them mention any form of relationship that had existed between the user and the company, whether it’s an address or a past buying behavior. This is a serious oversight made by many companies, since research has shown that if companies provide customers with relevant personal information, they’re much more likely to buy something from them.

In fact, the unfulfilled promise of using big data was even presented during the DM News Roundtable. Although, there were a small number of people on the panel who had paid to combine, “research, analytics, and transaction data… in the hope of creating a more tailored form of communication”. The conversation between the panel members was simply all talk and no work.

However, there was one statement that took place on the roundtable that was true, and it simply sums up the current situation of the big data. The statement came from the straight shooter IIana Rabinowitz, the CMO at Lion Brand Yarns, who said, “I think that for most small and midsize companies Big Data is irrelevant. It’s like the Wild, Wild West of information. You can’t use it, you don’t have people who can analyze it, and if it’s there, you don’t know how to get to it.”

It may seem like a derogatory statement, but it’s true nonetheless. Plus there were concerns with big data extending into the loyalty marketing business also. In a recent report by Retail Wire a question had been raised that: “Why Aren’t More Companies Connecting Big Data Dots for Loyalty Programs?” the online publicist referred to the lack of effort by marketers, and concluded that, ““While most respondents feel the need to engage customers based on their needs and expectations, they’re not leveraging the data in a way that maximizes the potential loyalty offered by customers.”

We can try to explain it a bit simpler using a football analogy. Simply big data feels like a potential superstar player who came from the first draft pick, but still hasn’t proven himself while he’s on the field. Plus, the coach isn’t really sure on how or when to use him. So, for the time being, he’s confined to the bench; he may get a chance to play in the future, but it’s anyone’s call when he gets to play.

Since, it appears that most marketers haven’t quite understood how to use the big data, it’s perhaps time to go old-school. Again quoting Ernan Roman, “Customers, both B2B and B2C, are sophisticated enough to recognize that to receive increasingly relevant offers, they must share detailed preference information.”

So, if you’re not capable of leveraging big data, the next best way to collect ‘customer preferences data’ is by sending out surveys, both online and offline. With this approach, you create a form of communication between yourself and the customer, offering them personalized communication, featuring services, products as well as benefits that could interest your customers.

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