This past July Econsultancy issued a report that made reference to the fact that Big Data is causing big frustrations for those who make their living in the marketing world. The sub-headline that appeared on their site in announcing the report read: "Big data has become something of a buzzword over the past year or so, but is it actually useful?"
One company has found that leveraging a more accurate, scientific approach based on big data can help marketers socialize their data -- giving them a way to understand and leverage their customers' and prospects' real-world relationships to substantially improve customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention.
In other words, identify the right Big Data.
The company is Pursway, and companies like Comcast and Sony are working with them to tap into the connection of real-life relationships that go well beyond the boundaries of Facebook friends and Twitter followers to drive 2-5x higher ROI for marketing campaigns.
Whether you call it Relationship Marketing or Influencer Marketing, the key is to identify who in a certain group is most likely to positively affect the purchase and use of specific products or services in a particular population. And according to Ran Shaul, founder and chief client officer of Pursway, their technology can help marketers better target, measure and monetize those relationships.
Here are some key findings they've uncovered:
I wanted to learn more about this unique method of identifying those key influencers and using the right Big Data so I had a chat with Ran Shaul to learn more
Steve Olenski: What makes Pursway different than other companies/platforms?
Ran Shaul: Pursway is the only company that actually socializes the CRM database. We can look at any customer database and reveal who is a friend of whom. By socializing data – combining big data techniques with factual evidence of social influence – we help brands map meaningful relationships between people in their database and unleash the power of the social graph of real-world relationships to influence purchase decisions and enhance brand loyalty. We also define and measure influence in a different way than other vendors. For us, influence is about one person actually having purchase influence over others, i.e. making others actually spend money, not about how many friends and followers they have.
Olenski: Why is it important to identify the RIGHT influencers?
Shaul: If you want to drive actual sales, it is critical that you figure out who people actually look to when they make purchase decisions, not necessarily those who are the loudest or most active on social media about your products. If you can find the people others trust enough to take their purchasing advice, you will convert prospects into actual customers. Anyone can have hundreds of Facebook friends and the time to comment, like, repost, share, tweet, etc. every product they purchase or store they visit but this doesn’t mean anyone is actually listening or cares. Pursway believes that meaningful relationships with the power to turn prospects into customers and inactive customers into buyers are rooted in offline connections, not online interactions. Identifying the right influencers means tapping a social graph that maps out powerful, real-word relationships based on concrete bonds (e.g., family, coworkers, college roommates, neighbors, teammates).
Olenski: What's the biggest mistake you see brands making when it comes to relationship marketing and influencer marketing?
Shaul: The biggest mistake would be not actually taking advantage of it. The fact is, people buy what their friends buy and most brands have yet to use this. For example, by socializing your data, if you could know that if one person buys a TV, five of his friends are more likely to buy one, it would seem obvious that you would want to use and monetize that knowledge in your marketing activities. But instead, too many brands are targeting the wrong types of influencers.
I also spoke with Steven Fuld, senior vice president, Sony Corporation of America to find out how Sony uses this system to its advantage.
Steve Olenski: How long has Sony been working with Pursway and what have the results been to date? (in general terms)
Steven Fuld: We have been working with Pursway for more than two years. With Pursway, we have been able to get more from our existing prospect and customer database and identify the consumers in our databases with not only the most purchase influence, but also those most likely to be influenced to buy. Our campaigns were optimized based on information provided by Pursway’s PIVO technology and we were able to increase conversion significantly. We realized 100%+ increases in marketing response by identifying and tapping purchase influencers with Pursway. Now, when we create new campaigns, they have more targeted messages and consistently bring new prospects on board and deepen brand engagement with influencers.
Olenski: Why is it so important for a brand like Sony to be able to identify key influencers as part of their relationship marketing strategy?
Fuld: When it comes to purchase influence, it has become apparent that people buy what their friends buy, it’s sort of intuitive, but the data proves it out as well. In the highly competitive market, pinpointing a customer who can convince other customers to choose our brand is a very powerful marketing approach. In such a noisy market, where consumers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, being able to identify a way to break out of the noise and get our product in front of consumers is a significant value to us. Engaging the true influencers who can swing others to our brand increases the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns across the board.
Olenski: What do you think the future holds for relationship marketing and influencer marketing?
Fuld: I think we are just getting going. We are social animals and social media has made it abundantly clear that social influence is a very powerful thing. But unlike social media which is hard to monetize - and at the end of the day it is all about delivering real value through marketing - relationship marketing and influencer marketing lets us target the people within our customer and prospect data with true purchase influence and make them offers that will prompt them to bring others on board.
Big Data Image Source: Google Images, Sony Image via CrunchBase