Big Data is a powerful, if sometimes underestimated, force that is driving the future of business, and it’s shaping the trends that will define 2015 and beyond—especially in marketing.
Here are eight marketing trends that Big Data will drive forward in a big way in the next 12 months:
1. Using data to drive content marketing: At first glance, content marketing appears to have little to do with data, big or otherwise, but the capability to deploy data to analyze the performance of various content—whether it’s blog posts, LinkedIn posts, white papers or e-mails—enables marketers to gain insight into what content is working to turn prospects into customers.
2. Making personalization meaningful: Personalization can mean using “Dear, Bob” as a greeting when a marketer sends an automated e-mail to someone named Bob, but ultimately, personalization is broader and more meaningful than that. Personalization gets even more meaningful when marketers use Big-Data-driven technology to identify prospects by their demographics and their browsing history, and then automatically serve those prospects the right content at the right time on the right device.
3. Eliminating data silos: A corporate website provides one view of customers. An e-mail database provides another. E-commerce rolls and the finance department’s customer payment history provide yet another view of the customer. Data-driven, customer-focused companies are working to bring these data silos together in a single database to create a 360-degree view of the customer.
4. Understanding the Internet of Things: Cisco Systems estimates that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. These connected devices already range from jet engines to the refrigerator in your home. Data-driven, customer-focused companies will use this data to analyze how these products are performing, when they need maintenance and how they can be improved.
5. Employing predictive analytics: Big Data lives both online and offline. Lattice Engines, Mintigo, Infer and 6Sense use Big Data to comb through hundreds of attributes of a company’s customers to analyze what characteristics the customers have in common. Lattice Engines, for instance, found that a large determining factor in whether a prospect was in the market for new routers from Juniper Networks was when the prospect had signed a lease for new office space—a non-intuitive attribute that never would have been discovered without Big Data analysis.
6. Improving attribution: Deep down, marketers always knew that their efforts drove revenue. The difference is that now they can prove it. Using sophisticated attribution models from Adometry, Convertro, Visual IQ and others, marketers can assess the performance of their display, e-mail, search and social media programs to determine which are contributing to the bottom line. Marketers can then pull the plug on what’s not working and invest in what is.
7. Cracking the code on mobile marketing: LinkedIn and other social networks are cracking the code on how to market on mobile by using Big Data to target audiences. Data also is enabling marketers to serve visitors mobile-ready websites and e-mail. And as accepting payments via mobile phones becomes more commonplace, businesses will have more direct data than ever on their customers.
8. Expanding the role of lead nurturing: New technologies enable marketers to better identify their website visitors, and these technologies allow marketers to nurture prospects across multiple online channels even when those prospects haven’t shared their e-mail addresses. It’s moving nurturing beyond the e-mail inbox.
Marketers have access to new technologies on many fronts, and they can take advantage of advances in mobile, attribution, content marketing and many other marketing avenues. There’s one element that links all of these marketing technologies, and that’s data. The marketers that harness data and use it to better understand their customers and prospects will win.
Russell Glass is head of B-to-B Product at LinkedIn, and co-author of The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits. Co-founder of Bizo, the marketing platform recently acquired by LinkedIn, Glass is a serial technology entrepreneur is based in San Francisco.