Big Data: Developing a 360 degree marketing plan

The face of marketing has completely changed over the past decade, shifting from simply broadcasting products and services to the world, to concentrating on inbound marketing solutions - with a focus on creating the relevant information to attract and retain customers.

In today's digital world, effective marketing plans need to be holistic and integrated online - a clever mix of SEO and social media - whilst still incorporating existing offline communications channels such as TV, radio and print, to create a truly rounded marketing strategy.

Forming holistic campaigns, this enables companies to reach all the important points of contact surrounding potential customers, and gather sufficient information (part of which forms through effective big data analytics integration) to create a 360 degree picture of them; their likes and purchasing motivators.

Armed with this customer knowledge, more targeted marketing messages can then be delivered - using analytical, interpretative and technical skills (as well as good judgement and decision-making skills) to boost customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

What is big data, and how can it help marketing strategies?

Big data is a term coined to express the over-abundance of data now existent in the world. Recent expansions in the amount of digital information created have been immense, with much of it in an unstructured or semi-structured format, making it unusable by traditional databases.

The big challenge for marketing is in attempting to harness and monetise golden nuggets of information from the huge volume and variety of incoming data - in all its diverse formats.

To give an example of the variety of unstructured data sources which must be managed for marketing success, big data is derived from the web, social media, digital sales and other marketing channels, and the huge proliferation of user interactive data available means marketers potentially have extensive, highly valuable knowledge about customers.

From eCommerce sites to online games and social platforms, vast volumes of insightful data are generated daily, aided by the increasing use of smart phones and other digital devices. And as just 5% of that big data is relevant to marketers, to find success, pose questions to an audience, get answers and adapt campaigns, having an effective big data management strategy is crucial in sorting the valuable information from the noise.

Get 360 degree answers through big data analytics - throw tradition to the wind

Big data is not the kind of information which fits into Excel, or traditional databases, as most of it is only semi-structured at best.

So while you may know that social media feeds and call centre records hold valuable information - this is information which can influence great fact-based business decisions – just how can you gain useable access to it?

Big data analytics allows marketers to integrate, analyse and visualise seemingly endless streams of abstract data, letting them find out much more emotional and personal consumer information than in the past - about how people are feeling about brands for example - particularly from social media.

Social media, and social media analytics is perhaps the biggest talked about big data usage pattern as it allows marketers to discover the drivers of consumer behaviour. For example, if brands have high levels of interaction on say Twitter, marketers can identify what their main themes are, analyse, respond and adapt campaigns to them: Are questions about sales or customer support? Are they positive or negative? Is there a link between what people are saying about brands and their sales?

Through this, and by correlating different data sets, connected consumer data conclusions can be reached. For example, when customer X posted on a brand Facebook timeline – was there an increase in calls to their call centre?

Through this sort of detailed analysis, marketers can also find out whether advertising plans have been successful – are ads sending more people to that brand's Facebook page?

Get the full 360 picture with big data 

Successful 360 marketing plans use big data analytics to identify missed revenue opportunities and target advertising based on facts rather than second guessing. 

Combining online communications, search optimisation techniques, quality content, social networking on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and traditional offline channels of communication, big data is the enabler providing the full 360 degree marketing picture.

And once organisations are in possession of that big data picture, they can use the metrics to tweak social marketing plans and more traditional approaches to elevate social presence and increase data monetisation potential - utilising sound analytical, interpretative and technical skills (as well as good judgement and decision-making skills) to gain an in depth understanding of customers.

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