three smiling fingers that are very happy to be friends

True consumer connection has always been a key aspect of marketing, but because the industry is changing quickly, consumers are looking for more than just an emotional connection to a brand. While the emotional connection is foundational, it’s also elusive. Analytics provide the data and statistics needed to more accurately measure audience reach.

Nearly every industry is seeing an explosion in the use of big data and analytics to drive business decisions, but the benefits of this phenomenon are no more marked than in the marketing industry. When it comes to marketing, the outcomes of big data are real and immediate, and they easily impact the bottom line. Marketers can better reach niche audiences and craft more personalized campaigns.

Big data poses a huge obstacle for marketers, as well. CMOs are increasingly pressured to make use of advanced technologies that have traditionally fallen out of their wheelhouse, but only one-fifth of CMOs feel prepared to take the leap. CMOs struggle to tap into big data’s enormous opportunities, and don’t always feel supported by the IT department.

But don’t despair. There are crucial steps to managing the influx of big data that any marketing professional can take.

  1. Identify Problems for Analytics to Solve: Without focus, even the strongest data is pointless and unusable. Before marketers can jump into collecting as much data as possible, they must first define a problem for data to solve. If big data isn’t a fit for the business’ bottom line, then it becomes mere hype, which leads to disappointment, wasted resources, and bitter challenges in later adopting big data when it’s finally deemed to be useful. Marketing professionals who map out a direction and set goals for analytics data are always one step ahead than those who dive straight in. Think of the roadmap like a safety net that ensures that the business will achieve a high return on marketing spend. When every initiative is tied to clear, measurable goals, high ROI is anyone’s game. Data can save CMOs the hassle of relying on subjective emotions and in turn empower them to innovate their own decision-making processes. But none of this can be achieved without the understanding of problems whose answers lie in big data.
  1. Always Analyze the Significance of Any Data: Once CMOs gather data—whether it is consumer behavior patterns or other statistics—they must then weigh its significance. It’s no easy feat to mine through data and pick the strongest statistics, but it’s necessary because not every data calculation deserves a place at the table. CMOs should remember that quality is better than quantity when it comes to big data metrics. Especially in the age of hyper-informed consumers with shifting demands, carefully selected data helps CMOs keep pace without getting bogged down. How can marketing managers most effectively analyze the data? With clear communication and a regular transfer of information. It’s critical to deliver the right insights to the right marketers on the team, whether they’re PPC marketers or social media managers. Every stakeholder needs access to analytical information, and education in how the data can drive results. It’s pretty easy to reach data overload with big teams, and it’s important to carefully walk the line between sharing too much and too little data within the department—which comes back to the CMO continually improving their ability to pick and choose the most significant metrics. Otherwise, the whole marketing department will fall victim to big data overload and won’t be able to gather highly useful insights.
  1. Create a Team of Analytics Experts: Yes, technology paves the way for generating data, but it’s nothing without a solid team of both analytics and marketing talent. The numbers don’t interpret themselves. It takes a team of people who are passionate about analytics and knowledgeable about your market to evolve the business into one truly driven by data. Instead, companies are wise to partner with a firm or to create internal analytics positions who can assist not only marketing but other departments as well.

As big data analytics continues to evolve and become more accessible, CMOs who realize its importance are able to reach new heights of customer engagement.

Authored by Sandra Peterson,Vice President of Marketing at Absolutdata