According to Paige O'Neill on Marketing Pilgrim, When It Comes To Data, Big Is Not Always Better. I agree completely! Most of us have no idea what a petabyte is (one million gigabytes) but about a third of businesses will be managing that much data by the end of the year, according to industry estimates. When it comes to that many zeroes, I'm not sure the human brain is able to even function, which is why computers and software are essential tools today.
So, despite all the talk about Big Data and how important it is, the answer is to start small. You know the old adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time? It works with online marketing strategy, too.
Start with the data you have. If your management system siloes data from your various channels, that means that each silo of information is inaccessible to the rest of your enterprise. Build some bridges between them with a customer data stewardship plan that is integrated throughout your business channels and ongoing. Investigate the various software offerings that are designed to do this and choose one that can be customized to your business and provides ongoing support as you implement it. Get a grip on the data you have and a functional multichannel system in place to deal with what will be collected in the future.
Respect your customer's need to trust before they share. People hear about security breaches and identity theft all the time and it scares them. Establish trust by opt-in, privacy-led approaches where the customer chooses to share their data in exchange for rewards or discounts they are interested in. The more they get value for their loyalty, the more trust is established. Privacy policies should be in print big enough to read, or the main points in bold plain language headlined over the legal jargon.
When it comes to Big Data, I visualize another picture: Niagara Falls. Amazing amounts of water go over the edge every second, but you can't get a drink because it overwhelms. Businesses need to understand that what's important is figuring out the best way to work with the potential data they have coming in the door. Develop a working system to handle a transparent data collecting policy that respects and rewards your customers and you will be ready for the growth you'll get.
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