“Big data”: It’s slowly becoming a household name. The term refers to large data sets that can be analysed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially when it comes to human behaviour and interactions. 

While this info is nothing new, the digital realm – which has blossomed into multiple streams like desktop, tablet, mobile – has turned big data into extremely big data: the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that can no longer be ignored.

So big, in fact, that it’s easy even for the performance gurus to get lost in all of the possible (and invaluable) applications. By setting goals, staying focused, and knowing how to realistically put that data to use, some of the confusion can be minimised by simply sifting through it. And leverage the hidden gold nuggets that lie within.

Where to find data that matters

Overcoming data saturation and information overload depends not only on differentiating between tonnes of useless data and the right kinds of data, but it also depends on how clearly you can define your objective (and the levers you control that can affect outcomes).

  • Are you attempting to increase on-site conversion rates, determine the appropriate frequency to reach out to potential prospects, or identify which offer resonates most with your audience?
  • How about improving deal size or lifetime value?
  • How can your organisation alter marketing and sales plans?
  • Are you bringing in third-party information from data providers such as Social123, Infogroup, or Experian?

Based on the answers to these questions, you should be able to focus your analysis. Creating a data inventory is critical to grasping what information you have at your fingertips and what data you can depend on when it’s time to take action.

Choosing the nuggets of gold

But data doesn’t simply materialise out of thin air. Before discovering how you can benefit from its windfall, use these steps to figure out how to wade through the glut of data and home in on data that helps your cause:

1. Stay on message

Big data is there to do the work for us. Identifying the work that needs to be done – be it a question, a decision, or any other unknown – is paramount to using it correctly.

Before diving into that pool of empirical data, get your team together, and make sure it’s all on the same page. Ask yourself, your team, and the c-suite, “How can we make big data work for us?”

Big data answers questions such as “Now what?” or “So what?”. Once it’s in full swing, a precedent will be set for driving meaningful revenue, margin growth, and the deliverance and measurement of business impact. The future of big data lies here.

2. Examine the label

Marketers can glean data from almost anywhere, so determine which sources provide information that’s relevant to your goals. Are you looking to improve product awareness? Do you want to develop the right distribution mix? Do you need more visits to your website?

Once you’ve figured that out, choose metrics that measure progress toward those goals and avoid “analysis paralysis” by reporting only on those metrics.

3. Beware the bright lights

Use caution when it comes to investing in business intelligence and analytics tools. Your team has to understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish in order to get the most out of tools such as Tableau, Domo, and Datorama.

There’s always going to be new data flooding in, causing what I like to refer to as “Shiny Object Syndrome.” To avoid getting pulled in too many directions, you need to stay laser-focused on what you’re trying to achieve.

For instance, when Pier 1 Imports was looking for a way to better connect with its customers, it piloted a predictive analytics solution leveraging big data. With it in place, the retailer can now utilise data findings to discern desired products by customers in the coming seasons, design a website via predictive modelling, and create stronger marketing campaigns.

The timing will never be better for you and your company to gain a firm understanding of big data. Every step of the unravelling process will reveal more insights you can use to immediately start improving your customer engagement strategies.

So what are you waiting for? Put big data to work, and experience business transformation while recognising how decisions are made within your organisation, both online and offline. It’s a really big deal