Skills Marketers Need in the Big Data Era


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It seems like every time marketers think they have their jobs figured out, something new comes along that completely changes the equation. In recent years marketers have needed to deal with a new phenomenon that’s had a big impact on their profession. This phenomenon is known as big data analytics, and it can strike many marketers as very complicated and high-tech. While some may be tempted to ignore it, they do so at their own disadvantage since many digital marketers have latched onto the idea, incorporating it in their marketing strategies. Even so, their effectiveness has left many business leaders wanting. In one study from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), 37 percent of the executives surveyed said the skill set that mattered most to marketing success was data analysis, while 45 percent said their marketers’ limited skill in big data was a major obstacle preventing marketing campaigns from being more successful. It’s clear that to succeed in this era of big data, marketers better get up to speed with their big data skills.

The big data era has brought with it a different kind of marketing. This new kind of strategy usually means numerous campaigns being run at the same time, each targeting different segments of the intended audience. As such, the days of running a large, all-encompassing campaign are mostly in the past. With this in mind, marketers had better work to become more agile in their management efforts. Think of it as a series of quick sprints centered around the many campaigns run at once rather than the marathon that many marketers are used to. Marketers also need to get familiar with the idea of constantly improving their campaigns as they go along rather than making wholesale changes. In many cases, the incremental improvements are needed over a total revamp.

Marketers also need to become more familiar with the many big data tools and storage options that are currently available, such as flash storage. This doesn’t mean that they need to become full data scientists themselves, only that they should know how these tools are used, what they’re best for, and how to query them in case a data scientist isn’t around. A tool like Hadoop Spark may seem overly complex, but with enough practice, the typical marketer should be able to get the basics down. Even if all they’re able to do is extract some basic BI analytics insights from big data, that’s a significant step in the right direction and could be a building block to more proficient use of big data in the future.

Successful marketers in this new era should also have a deeper understanding of marketing metrics, at least as it relates to big data. Many of the traditional metrics simply don’t apply when big data is used. Audience awareness and conversion are basic numbers that can be derived from a campaign, but big data can give marketers so much more. All of this means using big data to track every step of the customer journey, not just the end results. By monitoring this process, marketers can pinpoint which steps are the most effective for turning observers into paying customers. Essentially, marketers need to know which specific marketing actions lead to the desired goals of the campaign.

As marketers have seen, simply knowing about the tools and techniques of today will leave them behind tomorrow. Marketers need to develop the skills that keep them up to date with all the latest big data technologies and how they’re used in the marketing sphere. Already these technologies are making an impact in marketing, from machine learning and text analytics to sentiment analysis and predictive analytics. All of these combine to give marketing campaigns a notable boost, but only if the marketers using them know how they work. Keeping themselves educated makes marketers more prepared as big data continues to saturate their profession.

The idea of using big data may seem overwhelming to many marketers, but it’s a necessary step to be more effective and successful. Big data isn’t going away and in fact will only get more prevalent in marketing as time goes on. Developing the skills to effectively utilize big data will help marketers be more competitive, while also helping them create better campaigns. The big data era is here; now it’s up to marketers to not get caught unprepared.

Rick Delgado
Freelance Writer
I've been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I've started doing freelance writing and I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet. I also occasionally write for tech companies like Dell.


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