Marketing and the ‘Big Data’ Conundrum

April 10, 2015 SSP Limited

Emma Chablo, Marketing Consultant, CMO Centre.

Until the advent of the Internet, Marketing was all about brand, product awareness and sales promotions. The wider you could spread your message to the masses, the better. It reminds me of the old Proctor & Gamble quote, “I know that 50% or my marketing budget works, I just don’t know which 50%.”

It’s all change now, as marketers, we have to think about the segment of one and marketing to the individual. We need to recognise as much as possible that everyone is different and that if we can just understand that and send the right messages to the right people at the right time - they will respond and buy our products. All sounds so easy, but... and there is always a but...

Getting one to one marketing right relies on having a full 360 degree understanding of our customers and prospects, which relies on that word marketers hate to hear…DATA. Access to volumes of internally and externally generated data about our target market that we can use to improve our marketing.

Data is not just for the product people, for operations, for customer service people. Data is absolutely needed by marketing. Marketing requires access to great data to deliver great marketing, and to prove that it is achieving what it should. Marketing requires ‘Big Data’ on an ongoing basis to keep delivering results– because nothing stays the same and our customers are always changing.

In the past marketers have not been great data people, they are strategic, creative, organised, planners. Now as marketers we also need to be data analysts, data scientists and technology experts. We need to be hybrids – or at least our teams need to be built around a mix of the more traditional strategic, creative and organisational marketing skills with analytical, decision marketing and technology based skills added in.

The good news for marketing is that data has never been so available. Processing power is getting cheaper all the time so rather than working on aggregated data we can now analyse all of it and be really accurate. Marketing automation solutions can be put in place to analyse the data for us in near and sometimes even in real time to drive marketing next-best decisions. The bad news is that privacy issues and security around holding personal data are becoming ever more stringent and complex and we need to ensure that we have delivered best practice throughout.

The good outweighs the bad however and there is a clear view that by better targeting our marketing to the right people, those people recognise the value and the results achieved through data-based marketing are better – more cost effective, more measurable, more visible and always result in even more data.

Recent McKinsey research on the data analytics revolution reports that the most successful businesses are establishing centres of data excellence where using data analytics effectively can drive a dramatic impact on marketing within the organisation. They note that two elements are key to the successful adoption of data within marketing. Firstly the increasing automation of repetitive analytics (known as decisioning tools or next-best action) that delivers results directly to marketing campaign management solutions or marketing reporting dashboards. Secondly, training, ensuring that marketing teams are proficient in the use of data for marketing and able to understand and interpret the results of data analysis.

There are some good reports available to help marketers understand the value of big data from experts like McKinsey, econsultancy and some great case studies of businesses that do it well. Many businesses have examples of using data well in one channel, but the challenge is to blend data from multiple channels and ensure consistency of communication across channels to customers and prospects. The only way to do this is to accurately track what messages are being sent and received by 

each person via which channel and respond through the channel of choice. If a prospect only responds to messages via social media then it is appropriate to approach them via this channel.

There is a need for technology platforms to help us get the best out of all the data we increasingly have accessible to us. We need systems and processes to help us manage the complexity of data legislation and best practise. We need intelligence to ensure that we deliver the best marketing through the best channels to the right people at the right times consistently. As marketers we still need to be creative (even more so than ever) and organised to ensure that our messages get heard above all the others, by the right target audiences and this needs to happen when they want to hear from us, it all sounds so simple doesn’t it?

About the Author

SSP Limited

As the leading global supplier of technology systems and software for the insurance industry, our role is to help insurers and brokers operate more efficient businesses. So whether you’re a global insurer or an MGA, a high street broker or a start-up with a smart new idea, we can be trusted to support you on your journey, whatever the destination.

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