Why Big Data is Liquid Gold for Digital Marketers

James Collins | 17/06/2013 | Discussion

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Across their profession marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the concept of ‘Big Data’, the buzz word often pivotal in discourse on search data and analysis tools. 

In reality digital marketers have been utilising ‘Big Data’ for years in some form or another, however the extent as to which marketers have put this insight to optimal use is debatable.

The perception of ‘Big Data’ can be somewhat overwhelming given the inherent complexity and depth of such information. As a result valuable insight is often considered a hindrance rather than a benefit.

Within marketing ‘Big Data’ is commonly used to track performance and ROI, rather than to truly shape a strategy for competitive advantage and to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. As a testament to this a recent study involving CMO’s in the US revealed that whilst 33% of marketers felt they had a basic understanding of the role of data and analysis in their business, only 11% felt their organisation was in a leading position(1).  That’s a massive 89% who have the potential to base commercial decisions on solid facts and figures – but don’t.

This complacency has led to assumptions that historically successful methods of data manipulation, especially within the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) are still the most valid and insightful today. In reality, the digital world is far more complex than ever before and the only way to develop an understanding of ‘how’ and ‘what’ is to invest in cutting edge technology to acquire the knowledge to act on facts rather than opinion. Not surprisingly, dependence on traditional methods is leading to a growing waste of capital on deployments which simply aren’t suitable. A study by AA and WARC in December 2012 estimated wastage at approximately £2.5bn in the UK alone, that’s 15.8% of all promotional spend(2).

How to overcome the key challenges…

Digital marketers need to move away from an entrenched practice of justifying activity through detailed performance analysis (history as soon as it has happened), to allowing behavioural and customer data to drive high performing campaigns in the future.

The deployment of truly customer-led online marketing is a hurdle that brands must tackle if they are to reap the benefits that can be derived from a multi-channel, data driven strategy.

The prize for this approach is a significant. Imagine a scenario where customers are compelled to find your brand, engage and develop relationships through multiple channels, and believe wholeheartedly that your offering is the right one for them - because you have taken the time to understand their behaviour and have shaped your approach around them.

Big Data is Liquid Gold, especially within digital channels and we, as modern marketers, need to embrace it.

Ultimately, insight, fact and customer awareness instigate commercial success.

Big Data is accessible by anyone, anywhere. There are some brilliant analytical tools on the market right now. These include: Experian Hitwise, Global Web Index – useful for examining the macro marketing environment - and a variety of micro market tools, such as Stickyeyes’ own proprietary SEO tool, Roadmap.


James Collins is the Head of Optimum Intelligence,a technology division of Stickyeyes, a leading UK digital marketing agency.


1 - 2013, http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Big-Data-Analysis-Filters-Marketing-Practices/1009930

2 - 2013, http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/opinion/is-your-strategy-based-on-gut-instinct-or-fact/4005121.article