Analytics Blog

Big Data and Marketing

I recently had the opportunity to present at the Sierra Ventures and IBM CMO Council.  In attendance, where leaders from the Telecommunication, Retail and Online industries.  The primary question was: “How should Marketing best leverage Big Data”.

With such an open question, one could be tempted to explore all kinds of new scenarios that Marketing should think about.  Instead, I chose to focus on 2 key messages related to why a CMO would want take advantage of Big Data:  “Why does Marketing exist” and “How wide and long should Marketing’s view be of its audience?”.  I also used the example of Havas Media, the world’s fastest growing media agency; you can find out more about their secret sauce here.

What Data?

I explained that, while there are many things Marketing can and should do, there are two key initiatives it must focus on: revenue generation and customer retention.  The differences in execution between the Best-In-Class and the Laggards are just staggering.  Data is the ultimate enabler.  It gives Marketing the information it needs to drive attention to what matters most.  That might seem obvious but take for instance, the audience of your campaigns.  Have you identified the metrics that matter across Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue (A.A.R.R)?  If you haven’t yet, I suggest you review Dave McClure’s “Metrics for Pirates” presentation below.  Make sure that your dashboards, scorecards and visualizations don’t obsess on the measurement of “vanity metrics”.  Focus on gathering data following Dave’s model.  Build your systems around them.

How Much Data?

Three leaders come to mind when providing a potential answer to the question of gathering “too much data”. Steve Blank, Mark Suster and Alistair Croll.  I combine their wisdom to help my marketing team build analytical systems to drive our business forward.  Here is what you might be able to use as well:

Steve Blank’s seminal work helps entrepreneurs build great products by “getting out of the building” and finding the answers to what prospects want.  This is what he calls “Customer Development”.  As a marketer, your job is to know as much as you can about your prospects.  By collecting explicit information and implicit signs, your analytical system enables you to understand correlation between your audience’s actions and non-actions .  Cast as wide as a net as possible for the value of data changes over time.  Data that you collect today might yield unexpected insights in the future.   

Mark Suster has a great acronym he uses to help marketers focus on revenue better: PUCCKA (stands for Pain, USP, Compelling Event, Champions, Key Players and Aligned Process).  I’ve used his methodology religiously and in fact, have created my own method for collecting and segmenting 5 key audiences: C.U.B.I.N.  It stands for Champions, Users, Buyers, Implementers and NINAs (read Mark’s blog for the definition of what a NINA is).  Strive to use Big Data to get as much information in and use Advanced Analytics to filter noise out.  Warning! Depending on the situation, Data that might have been noise for one question, could be signal for another one…

Finally, everyone running a marketing team should read Alistair Croll’s book on Lean Analytics.  Alistair is a great friend and an incredible thinker in the space of Big Data (he’s also the co-chair of the O’Reilly Strata Conference).  His book will take you through the journey of building a sound Big Data Analytics system for Marketing (or any other product you decide to sell to your audience).

I hope you’ll enjoy the below resources and Slideshares!