Big Data Pioneering the Future of Marketing and Sales

Big Data

When Internet went mainstream over two decades ago, the domain of marketing and sales was revolutionized like never before. Big Data, today is recreating the same magic that internet began all that while ago. While it is a train set in motion, not many executives know how to steer it right to success-Ville.

There are numerous publications and experts willing to explain the phenomenon. One eBook that attempts to unravel the big data revolution is called “Big Data Analytics and the Future of Marketing & Sales.”

The pressures of running an organization

The amount of data that an organization accumulates over short spans of time is overwhelming. Added to that are the pressures of organizational complexity, competition and increasingly changing consumer behavior patterns. With technologies on a constant dynamic route, simply keeping track of all the platforms and channels creates an immense environment. While it is increasingly complex, the introduction of data and the associated technologies means that the organizations gain unprecedented access to patterns of consumer behavior and needs.

Cashing in on the big data promise

As big data is still relatively new, there is only a small percentage of companies that are turning the promises of the new technology into tangible revenue. The productivity and profitability that the companies show through the use of the new technology is between 5 and 6 percent higher than their peers.

McKinsey & Company in an analysis of the numbers over five years including over 250 engagements said, “The companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15-20 percent. That adds up to $150 – $200 Billion of additional value based on global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion.”

The numbers only emerge from the company’s involvement in the numbers. Without the human involvement, data is nothing more than a couple of 0s and 1s put together in a random sequence. In order to succeed via the big data ship, companies can use the following pointers.

Identify unique opportunities

Relevant data sets should be brought in from within and outside the company to build a data advantage that then fosters successful discovery of unique business opportunities.

While the amount of data gets exponentially higher, a mass analysis of the data collected will set the company up for failure. One way to analyze the data is to use something called destination thinking. In simple terms, it is just writing down the questions that the company needs to be answered or the problems that they are looking to solve. These questions cross the broad strokes of the company goals and enter the specificity of individual goals that are meaningful.

This approach is not common and is not the easy way out of data. Traditionally resources are deployed by sales leaders based solely on the historical and current performance of a particular sales region.

A fresh perspective of looking at data is the key to unlocking the potential of the data itself. McKinsey & Company quoted an example, “One chemicals company, for example, decided to look at market share within customer industry sections in specific US counties instead of looking at current sales by region, as they’d always done. The micro market analysis revealed that although the company had 20 percent of the overall market, it had up to 60 percent in some markets but as little as 10 percent in others, including those with the fastest growing segments.”

Begin the data journey with the customer decision

Every simple task in today’s technological world is fulfilled using an array of tools, technologies and devices by the savvy channel-surfing consumer. In order to keep the customer base from moving to competitors and to increase the consumer base, businesses need to think from the customer’s perspective, right form their decision making process.

With over 35 percent of B2B pre-purchase activities being digital, the companies need to think about which websites will effectively communicate their product value and invest in it. Other considerations for investment will be SEO support to ensure that new consumers will find the business online and social media monitoring to identify new opportunities for sales.

Online retailers for example customize their offers and discounts around predictions of how likely it is that a new customer will react to it. In order to benefit from the tech savvy market, companies need to gain complete overviews of their client base so that they can customize their products and offerings to their tastes. McKinsey’s research shows that this form of customization and personalization will bring the companies over five to eight times their investment or on the amount that they spend on marketing. Also sales will lift by as much as ten percent owing to customization alone. With this kind of effective marketing there might be no requirement for spam at all.

The beauty of speed and simplicity

The rate of growth of global data today stands at 40 percent. This rapid rate of growth is daunting to all sales and marketing leaders. In order to harness the potential of this data, companies can look to invest in an automated “algorithmic marketing” strategy. The self-learning process will process the data to help foster more meaningful interactions with the customer base. The data will be processed to understand natural language mining, predictive statistics and machine learning.

One of the examples of this form of automated understanding of data is systems that can track keywords and make updates automatically every 15 seconds. The updates are based on the changes to the search terms used, customer behavior and ad costs. For example, the machine can suggest price changes for thousands of products based solely on price comparisons, inventory, customer preference and predictive analysis.

McKinsey & Company quoted another example, “One bank in Latin America transformed itself from a little-known player into an institution that was ranked 11th in market capitalization worldwide in part through algorithmic marketing. It captured ATM interactions and fed next-product-to-buy algorithms to call centers, which service operators could use to make suitable offers during the customer’s next interaction.”

The level of personal interaction in the automated systems underscores the fact that despite high levels of automation the main point remains the human atom in the make-up. Advanced analytics will need to serve the sales rep in the field and the customer service operator, the front-line staff in direct contact with the consumers.

In order to succeed, companies need to serve these front line staff. Instead of inundating them with complex data, recommended actions and simple guidelines will make more sense. McKinsey and Company showed another example of this form of front-line service. “One cargo airline, for example, developed a complex model that analyzed the frequently changing dynamics of the cargo industry and negotiating strategies based on supply and demand. What it delivered to its sales staff, however, was a simple ‘dashboard’ with simple guidelines on flight capacity, corresponding pricing as well as competitor options. The result was a 20 percent boost in share of wallet.”

Big data is therefore a turning point for sales and marketing leaders. The global leaders in marketing and sales will be the ones who will effectively rope in and harness the big data movement.

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