The Marketing Approach to Big Data

Big Data: it’s all the rage right now. From articles in the New York Times to entire startups launching because of its power, big data is the latest technological feat that marketers can utilize to their advantage. Never before could we use data sets so large and complex because we did not have the capacity to. Now, we can search, curate, collect, store, and use limitless amounts of information right at our fingertips — But what does that mean for marketers?

I recently finished Daniel H. Pink’s bestseller “A Whole New Mind,” which is a brilliantly written perspective on how left-brain thinking currently dominates how Westernized cultures approach most things, including business and data. Because of this, outsourcing and automation are now taking over jobs that were once popular and highly sought after. Pink makes the point that approaching left-brain careers and tasks, such as data interpretation and technology, with right-brain finesse will be the next addition to the Information Age — the Conceptual Age.

Marketers will eventually need to learn and understand this approach in order to make a connection with customers. This feat will be possible through using Big Data and pairing it with right-brain thinking; logic with intuition. Take the expressive, empathic, emotional aspects that characterize right-brain thinking and combine it with the logical, detail-oriented, analytical left-brain to breed a new method of creation (and marketing). Those that can use this abundant amount of complex data to craft a narrative that relates to their consumer base will be the ones that prevail. The ability to be analytical AND creative is no easy task, but that is why those who have honed this skill will not only get the most out of the market, but also the most out of their career.

Another craft that marketers will have to perfect is the ability to use this copious amount of information to make targeted product recommendations without pushing the customer away. Take for example last year when Target made a phenomenal discovery that they could determine the likelihood of a customer being pregnant according to a prediction score. By a woman purchasing products such as vitamins, cocoa butter, or other pregnancy-related products, they were able to determine if she was with child to send her coupons and deals pertaining to baby items. This is an amazing showcase of how Big Data can help marketers do their jobs better than ever before. But whereas some customers found this to be incredibly helpful, others believed it crossed the line.

The one mantra that comes to mind when thinking about the awe-inspiring powers of Big Data and how it will revolutionize the world of marketing: “With great power comes great responsibility.” We need to be able to use this utility to innovate and motivate, yet we also will need to know how far is too far. To just think: only 50 years ago, our job could only be done by print, word of mouth, and survey. Today, we essentially have the world at our feet. Question is, what are we going to do with it?

Sarah Zibanejadrad
Inbound Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts

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