Guest post from Matt Cowell – Marketing Consultant/ Contract Professional.

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Remember Big Data? Of course you do, It’s the latest (and longest running) marketing buzzword, and it appears to be back at agenda item 1 on every board room table.

But we’re confused. The very term ‘Big Data’ is confused. Does it refer to vast swathes of data and small analytics? Is it small quantities of data with big analytics? Or is it something else, entirely? It’s little wonder that businesses of all shapes and sizes know they should be doing something, but they just don’t really know what that something is.

Sure, we’ve heard plenty of big data success stories (mainly from the US). Companies that have built clever data-based algorithms to predict buyer behaviour. Look up US supermarket chain, Target. They claim to be able to predict when one of their shoppers is pregnant. Apparently based on a formula involving elevated rates of buying unscented lotion, mineral supplements, and cotton balls… 

To be fair, Target, has over 1,800 retail locations across the US, with a reported $72bn turnover in 2015. You would expect them to have an over-sufficient bank of clever people and resources in place and, arguably, we’d be asking questions if they didn’t.

But what does all of this mean for your business?

The truth of the matter is this. Data, numbers, analytics and insight mean absolutely nothing unless it translates into marketing activity, CRM strategy and your sales process. It doesn’t matter how much data you have at the beginning; you can be “doing” big data with a database of 25 prospects. What matters is defining what you need to be doing and what you could be doing with your data to drive brand consideration, actionable sales insight and customer loyalty. And then deciding how you will collect the right data to populate the CRM algorithms. 

If you ask me, all of this is the responsibility of the now-generation marketing team, and it’s a huge UK skill gap. Most traditional marketers are creation and innovation conditioned, whereas most traditional analysts are the opposite. The fundamental of successful customer personalisation and marketing automation in your business, therefore, is having somebody who will bridge the chasm between the two.

Yet very few marketing professionals currently do.


Matt Cowell

Consultant/ Contract Professional

Marketing | Strategy | CRM | Business Development



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