Despite all the hype around big data not much has translated from plans into implementation. A Gartner survey in September 2013 showed that less than 8% of companies out of the 720 companies surveyed had made a big data deployment so far. A large chunk of companies are optimistic on the idea but still in the planning phase.
So how much substance is there behind the hype? Do you as a B2B marketer necessarily need to buy into the big data arms race? Don’t mistake me; I’m not implying that you can ignore critical customer data in an increasingly complex B2B buying process, but is big data the only way to go?
Amazon, Google and Wal-Mart are great examples of companies investing in big data. But these are businesses with massive size, scale and magnitude. They have 1000s and 1000s of customer interactions on a daily basis with huge social media followings and an overwhelming amount of social chatter around them. So if you are a large corporation and you have a very data-based approach towards decision making, big data definitely makes a lot of sense.
The other scenario in which big data can be great is if you want to marry different types of structured and unstructured data to create a 360 degree view of customer and prospects, say structured data from CRM, marketing automation, unstructured data from social media and semi-structured data from email.
Then again, much of this structured and unstructured data can be married with a robust marketing automation platform that can translate and integrate data from varied sources and campaigns to deliver a unified view of each customer and prospect.
Before you embark upon the complex and expensive proposition of big data which demands new investment, new skillsets and a tremendous amount of cross-departmental planning and coordination, ask yourself: Have you analyzed your existing data to the fullest?
Your website, your email marketing engine, your call center, your CRM system are all rife with great information that can help you better understand today’s prospects and customers, uncover emerging risks and discover new upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
For many mid-size and smaller companies big data might be overkill. An out-of-the-box marketing automation platform can offer much of what big data has to offer at a much smaller cost and in much less time. A marketing automation platform not only integrates into your CRM system, but also offers you a range of capabilities such as:
- A Complete Profile on Each Website Visitor – Get complete demographic and behavioral information on your website visitors. Know their name, company name, geography, decision makers and contact details. Understand how they arrived at your website, what pages they visited and how much time they spent.
- Study Lead Behavior and Prioritize Them – See which leads open and click through your emails, listen and participate in your webinars, download whitepapers and case studies. Don’t be overwhelmed by the data, prioritize the leads using lead scoring. This way only the most qualified leads get passed onto sales.
- Track Your Lead’s Social Profiles – Get a comprehensive picture of your leads from their social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. See their professional achievements, what they are interested in and what they are talking about in real time.
- Lead Attribution – Make your marketing more efficient. See which campaigns yield the most numbers of leads. This way you can cut back on wasteful spending and tweak your marketing campaigns to deliver the best results.
Now tell me, what more could you possibly want from your data?