infinite value
Big Data, Customer Experience

When It Comes To Data, Big Is Not Always Better

Despite all the papers, presentations and personal conversations that have been devoted to it, most marketers I talk to still haven’t warmed up to “big data.”

That’s understandable.

According to IDG Enterprise, about one-third (31%) of companies will be managing more than one petabyte of data by the end of this year. (Note for non-Computer Science majors: One petabyte is equal to one million gigabytes.)

How can you possibly get your arms around a number that is so, well … “big?” And even if you do, won’t it be a hollow victory, since we all know even larger volumes – the exabyte, zettabyte, yottabyte, et al. – are just around the corner?

It’s no wonder marketers feel overwhelmed with big data . . . and it’s precisely why I propose a completely different approach.

Rather than feeling bogged down under the yoke of big data, marketers need to take control by putting the focus back where it belongs: on the small data –the bits of data your customers provide whenever they interact with your brand.

Every time your customers choose to tell you where they are, what they’re doing, what they want and what they’re thinking, they offer information you can use to enhance their experience with your brand. Over time, all the data you earn from your customers becomes the currency of engagement, and as I have discussed before,

Engagement is the key to a better customer experience. You can gain significant competitive advantage by leveraging small data – contact details, website interactions, in-store purchases, etc. – to obtain deeper insights about your customers’ preferences and buying behaviors.

To help move you in the right direction, here’s a short to-do list for taking control of your small data:

  •          Establish trust with your customers via opt-in and privacy-led approaches. Many marketers are uncertain about collecting and using customer data because they fear consumer backlash. Our research of millennial buyers shows that they are 7 times more likely to give personal information to a trusted brand. And while it’s true that recent high profile media stories about identity theft, data breaches and privacy issues have made consumers wary about sharing personal information with brands, the preponderance of research in this area has repeatedly shown that customers are generally amenable to data collection and tracking – if they’ve opted in and if their information is used responsibly. Most recently, a 2013 Forrester study found that consumers are more loyal to, and more willing to share data with, brands they trust, leading the researchers to conclude that marketers should take a privacy-led approach to customer data collection and use.
  •          Bridge the silos. Most organizations store customer information in multiple disparate silos, but the truth is, you simply won’t be able to leverage your small data unless/until you can integrate it. Make a commitment to an enterprise-wide customer data stewardship plan – one that’s integrated and ongoing. Be realistic, though. Overhauling data systems and paradigms of corporate structure won’t happen overnight. Plot a strategy, and then proceed step-by-step.
  •          Offer value in return for information. Our recent global research on Millennials shows that they realize companies collect data from them – and in return, they expect a fair exchange of value. What’s “fair?” Forty six percent of those surveyed said that they will share their data if it means more relevant offers. — offers that are well-timed and relevant. Interestingly, this trust-value cycle reinforces itself. Cultivating deeper customer relationships builds trust, which in turn, motivates customers to open up access to even more data, which then helps you market even more effectively . . . which helps deepen the relationship even more . . . and so on.

It’s time to stop feeling overwhelmed by big data – because in the end, it’s not the volume of data that’s important. What’s important is what you do with the data you have. So, shift your focus to small data. Be up-front about what you collect. And use it to improve the customer experience. You’ll feel more in control, and ultimately, you’ll start driving more revenue, as well.

Big Data, CMO, Customer Experience, Customer Journey

Boost 2014 Performance with These Q2 Resolutions for B2B And B2C Marketers

Every January, there’s plenty of buzz about New Year’s resolutions. But the truth is, you can set new goals any time of the year, and I’ve even found that short-term quarterly resolutions can be much more effective than long-term annual ones. This is because you significantly increase your chances of success if you split big (read: intimidating) resolutions into smaller, more manageable chunks, and you increase the opportunity to course-correct as things change (as they inevitably do)

To help get you started, here are six marketing resolutions on which I feel you and your team can start working–and likely achieve –in Q2.

Rethink the customer journey. Buying behaviors have changed dramatically over the past decade, and it’s clear you’re really not selling business-to-business; you’re selling business-to-individual buyer. Use Q2 to start honing in on relationships with your customers, influencers and prospects. Make it a priority to create customer experiences that are ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually rewarding.

Focus on big small data. There’s no doubt about it: data is your most valuable asset . . . and you must use it to develop and nurture the business-to-buyer relationships described above. But don’t get overwhelmed by how vast your data can be. Instead, concentrate on the data that’s most relevant. Make sure your data sources – sales, marketing, accounting, press/analyst relations, executives – are consistently capturing information in the same format; it’s much easier to work on clean data up-front, than to stop and undertake a huge data cleanup effort down the road.  Start small and expand as you gain experience and produce results.

Worry less about channels, more about customers. Stop feeling flabbergasted by all of the available channels, platforms, devices . . .  Keep this top-of-mind: you don’t need to be in all places at once. You simply need to be where your customers are. Find them. Connect. Engage. Listen. (And then repeat that sequence over and over again.)

Assess your mobile capabilities. Forrester calls it a “mobile mind shift” and says that customers now expect that “any desired information or service is available on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need.” If you haven’t already done so, Q2 is the perfect time to determine customer preferences and evaluate your capabilities. Is your content mobile-friendly, consistent across screens, localized and relevant?

Use data to find an audience that’s fragmented across multiple channels and platforms. Your customers are telling you where they are, how they’re doing, what they like and what they don’t. All of that information is locked up in the data they’re generating. You need to ask the right questions, gather the right data and apply the right analytics to attain the insights you need to create more personalized and compelling customer experiences.

Call the CIO. Data is now the lifeblood of marketing, and that means you need to collaborate with IT –and across the enterprise, as well. Over the next few months, make a special effort to open up communication so you can start developing a comprehensive, shared data strategy. You can’t move forward unless everyone is pulling together.

Who needs New Year’s resolutions and all the fuss of noise-makers, party hats and confetti? (Some estimate that as many as 90% quit on their goals by the end of January, anyway.) Let’s celebrate the beginning of Q2 with a little less fanfare, and a little more determination now that spring is here.

So tell me, what resolutions will you be making in the coming months?

Big Data, Customer Experience, Customer Intelligence, Data Driven Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

Why Now Is The Time for CMOs To Build Digital Relationships

postcard2The life of a CMO can be unpredictable at times. Markets change, goals change, trends change, channels change .

But no matter what, as the CMO, your core task remains the same: communicating the value of your company, both externally and internally. How do you keep from losing sight of that goal when everything is up in the air?

Focus on your customers.

It’s just that simple —and just that complicated.

In today’s marketing environment, creating a strong digital presence is one of the most powerful ways to engage your customer base and connect with prospects. There are multiple platforms to choose from, depending on where your audience spends time, and there’s a digital strategy to fit every organization.

But even so, I still meet CMOs who say they’re not ready to “go digital.”

That’s a mistake because, rest assured, today’s consumers are ready. You may choose to hang back. But, they aren’t … and they won’t hesitate to talk about you (for better or for worse).

Why is NOW the time to make digital marketing a priority? For starters:

It’s never too late to plan and implement a smart digital strategy—but the more time you spend putting it off, the more opportunities you’re missing out on. Digital marketing can make your customers happier, your employees more efficient, your budgets less scary and your job easier.

So what are you waiting for?