Leveraging ‘Big’ Data


(Photo Credit: PointRoll)

As I mentioned in my last blog post, marketing strategists often have access to data – but are faced with the challenge of not knowing how to use and learn from the data. J. Gramee Noseworthy, the Strategic Messaging Director of IBM Big Data, eloquently stated at the New York GSMI Social Media Strategies Summit, “Data is taking us from reactive to predictive – taking insights beyond sentiment and understanding the impact on the enterprise.” However, in order to leverage data-driven insights, marketers must develop a game plan.

In his presentation, Noseworthy laid out the following steps for turning data-driven insights into action:

1)     Educate
2)    Explore
3)    Engage
4)    Execute

Overall, I agree with Noseworthy’s strategy, but believe there is a critical step missing:

5)    Measure & Analyze – measurement is important because it ensures success across all stages. Noseworthy did note this within the ‘Execute’ phase, but I think it is so important that is deserves its own step.

Educate. First and foremost, a landscape analysis must be conducted to gather knowledge and observe the marketplace environment. Companies must broaden their own knowledge base by diligently exploring what is taking place in their industry and beyond. Consider conducting benchmark research to measure your current positioning before launching your campaign. This will help in evaluating the success of the campaign as well as provide a clear idea of ‘where you are’ versus ‘where you want to be.’ A competitive analysis of other campaigns will also provide a benchmark for campaign success.

Explore. Following the ‘education’ phase, marketers will have a much clearer understanding of the current landscape, their challenges, strengths, and customer needs. The newly acquired information will inform the development of a strategy based on those needs and challenges. The marketing strategy should utilize a combination of mediums, including social media, to engage and influence customers, thought leaders, influencers, and even competitors in their space.

Engage.  As my colleague Shira Levy mentioned in her recent blog post, “Use social advertising to promote content, instead of just promoting your business.” Your strategy must be interactive and engaging in order to be effective. Customers need to actually care and notice the content you are sharing; otherwise your desired impact will not be achieved.

Execute. Once you have developed your strategy and vetted the level of engagement it may produce, you are ready to deploy your initiatives. Be prepared for anything to happen. If the response is dismal, have a back-up plan prepared and ready to execute. If the response is better than expected, make sure you are ready for it. And most importantly measure the engagement.

Measure & Analyze. Apply advanced, predictive analytics to measure brand engagement. This is essential to being able to understand your customers, their response to your campaign, and how to make the campaign more effective moving forward. If you conducted a benchmark study prior to the campaign, conduct a follow-up study now that the campaign is underway and/or complete. This will provide clear direction on the impact of the campaign in addition to the other metrics in place. We are now at the phase where you have all this data, and since you developed an action plan going into the campaign, you know what it means, how it relates to your overall strategy, what worked, what didn’t work, and what you should do moving forward.

These five steps will not only guide your strategy, but will also help in evaluating the success of the campaign and how to improve it moving forward. Data is a very powerful tool – especially if a strategic game plan is the guiding force behind it.

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