The surge in readily available customer information means that businesses are able to trail everything from customers’ shopping habits to their exact location. For companies serious about their customer communications and marketing, Big Data is no fad. The evolution of internet analytics, the proliferation of mobile devices, and developments in data capture have led to an unprecedented availability of data that can be used to gain a detailed picture of exactly what your customers want and like.

Many marketers have already woken up to the huge possibilities Big Data can offer, especially when it comes to employing newer streams of information such as web, mobile and social data. The huge amount of data available to companies, however, can sometimes be more daunting than helpful, especially in this digital age where people are sharing information with companies online at an unprecedented rate. So where to begin?

1. Outline Your Marketing Objectives

The first place any marketing or customer manager should start is to ask themselves what it is the company really wishes to achieve. For most, the answer will be an increase in revenue, and for many it will be a good customer experience. By linking a company’s database to the overall marketing and CRM strategy both of these jobs are made a lot easier. There are three key areas that need to be looked at in order to do this:

  • Increasing customer spend
  • Increasing the frequency of customer visits
  • Reducing the number of lost customers

Keeping these in mind throughout the marketing process means that the end goal is not forgotten and the path to achieving it is not strayed from. It is also important that a clear data management policy is put in place to ensure all data is complete, consistent, accurate and up-to-date.

2. Be Ruthless With Your Data

The next step is to go through the information you hold on your customers and decide what is useful and what can be thrown out. A lot of time can be wasted on outdated or inaccurate data so make sure you constantly have your marketing goals in mind when culling the information. This way, you will know that what you hold will be useful, so throughout this process bear the following in mind:

  • Does the data further your relationship with the customer?
  • Is it in a functional condition?
  • Can you link to a known customer?
  • Will employing this data boost profits?

If the answer is no to any of the above you have to ask yourself what its uses are. Is it proving a waste of time and clogging up the system? If any of the information that falls under the Big Data umbrella in your organisation does not help to achieve an organisation’s marketing goals, it is safe to say it can be set aside.

3. What Is The Best Way To Capture The Data?

Having decided which data is essential, it is then important to look for the most effective and efficient means of filling the gaps in terms of the information that might be missing. The key is to find a means of getting consumers to happily provide this information, and doing this within a structure that makes it straightforward to harness it for analysis and action.

This will become a lot easier now that you know what kind of information is useful for your business and your marketing goals, and understanding this should also give a good indication of the best ways to capture it. CRM systems and loyalty schemes are an excellent way of not only highlighting customer trends but also of ensuring that consumer information is up-to-date. Customers are a lot more inclined to update their personal information if they are sent regular special offers and rewards.

4. Secure Data Permissions & Trust

Customers will not share their personal information if there is no trust, and Big Data will only work in the long run if consumers feel comfortable enough to continue to give their details. When seeking new information, it is vital to decide if you really do need the data and are going to use it – and if so, how. A primary consideration here is whether you will use the data to personalise the message for a webpage, an email, or a direct mail content piece.

5. Focus On An SCV Database

Once you have identified the Big Data you need, and how to capture it, keep it accurate and updated and linked to a customer, you need to ensure you are able to do this within the capabilities of a single customer view (SCV), which brings all the data held by various parts of the business together in one place. The information from the SCV can be analysed to provide insight that enables you to reward and influence customer buying habits that encourage increased spend, increased frequency and reduced attrition.

Summary: Keep Sight Of Your Objectives

For the strategies and processes built around Big Data to run smoothly, effective data management needs to be in place. When keeping track, it is also critical to keep sight of overall objectives. It is all too easy to get lost in the vast amount of information, but as long as marketers focus on what really matters – profitability and the customer experience – a CRM or loyalty programme will allow you to gain trust from your customers by rewarding their purchasing behaviour with offers and promotions relevant to them. This in turn will deliver incremental revenues for your business.