Real-Time Customer Intelligence: The True Value of Big Data in Marketing

February 8, 2021 | 3 minute read
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Many digital marketers spend years learning how to implement a big data system without thinking about the real value it can offer them in their day-to-day business. However, while there’s a good argument to make that big data will transform advertising, plenty of marketers are still unable to articulate what they aim to do with all the data they collect.

There are several uses of big data, of course, and intelligence on your customer base can be used in many creative ways. For the majority of marketers, by far the most useful feature that these systems provide is real-time analysis of customer trends. Let’s take a look at why these systems are so powerful.

The uses of big data

Before diving into the ways big data can be used to provide real-time business intelligence, it’s worth pointing out that the utility of big data in marketing is not limited to the kind of advanced systems we’re going to look at later on in this article. 

It doesn’t take a huge investment in data acquisition systems to realize real gains from such systems. There are many advantages of big data for customers, and recent research shows that businesses of all sizes can make significant performance improvements by using it. In fact, data-driven retailers enjoy a nearly three times greater increase in annual brand awareness over their competitors.

It’s also important to recognize that the value of big data systems goes beyond those afforded to marketers themselves. In many areas, these systems are able to offer greater functionality to everyday people (while simultaneously providing valuable intelligence) if also at the expense of increased risk to their data. But for the most part, people feel this is a trade-off they’re willing to make. For instance, the data shows that 60% of Americans feel that the convenience of using Fintech systems to store and access their financial data outweighs their concerns about data privacy.

Keeping up with your customers

All of these advantages—improvements in brand awareness, and building better relationships with your customers—are hallmarks of mature big data systems. However, in order to get the absolute most out of your investment in these systems, it pays to go one step further and analyze this data in real-time.

First, it’s necessary to have access to a data acquisition system that’s able to collect customer intelligence in real-time. At this point, it’s natural to think of GPS and IoT sensors, but remember that a web page, equipped with a data analytics system, is also collecting information in real-time.

Secondly, it’s important to make sure that your data storage and retrieval systems are up to the task of working with this data. As we pointed out in our discussion on whether to data lake or not, one of the common mistakes made by those new to big data systems is to store all the data they collect without a clear plan as to what value they will provide. In other words, if you don’t know why you’re collecting a particular piece of data, you probably don’t need to.

Third, make sure that you have the necessary security protocols and tools in place. If, as with some of the companies in the next section, you’re going to be interacting with consumer devices in real-time, make sure that your systems are not hijacked and used to attack your customers. 

That’s a bad look. If you’re sharing data with consumer devices, make sure you’re using a virtual private network (VPN) and that your own systems are regularly audited for malware. A VPN in particular is one of the most effective security measures you can use because it encrypts all communications sent between two or more devices over a network. 

VPNs also ensure that your consumer’s IP addresses are kept hidden, which means hackers will be unable to identify their locations or access any data sent over their network. 

Empower your marketing strategy

Once you have these elements in place, you can begin to use the data you’re collecting to guide and empower your marketing strategy in real-time. The approach you take will depend, to a large degree, on the specifics of your business and sector.

Whatever your particular niche, it’s likely that similar functionality can help you keep your marketing—and your product offerings—fresh and adapted to the needs of your customers.

And ultimately, if you have already invested in advanced data acquisition systems, it makes sense to get the most out of them. Start processing and using data in real-time, and you’ll also be well prepared for the disruptive effects of machine learning systems, which is likely to be the source of the next marketing revolution.


For more information about how digital marketers can make the best use of their data, please check out:

Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed €”among other intriguing things to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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