Big Data Crucial to Seeing the Social Marketing ROI Light

LighthouseEveryone calls for the definitive ROI of social marketing, and while we can debate if such a beast exists, we should all agree Big Data is the path to it. In fact, if anyone can show me the ROI of marketing in the dark in 2013, please do.


Remember when people with clipboards in malls tried to take you away to a small room and ask you questions for an hour in exchange for a modest gift certificate? That’s the kind of ambush it used to take to find out what customers liked.


Look at us now. Millions all over the globe are on multiple social platforms voluntarily giving us vast amounts of information about their preferences and behaviors every second. With CRM, we also know what they bought, when they bought it, at what price, and whether they contacted customer service with a problem. They’re giving brands tons of info we claimed we wanted. In return, we act like we have no idea who they are.


To be fair, it’s a lot more info than most brands were ready for. 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years alone. 80% of that data is unstructured, meaning legacy systems were never intended to deal with it. But that unstructured data is what gives us the kind of customer insight that makes the relevant, personalized, one-on-one customer experiences increasingly essential for modern business possible. So we should probably get serious about it.


Being unable to spot trends, not knowing what your target audience is into, not being able to predict future likely behaviors or product needs, not knowing which customers can influence others in your favor, not knowing which conversations you should join, not knowing the history of a customer who reaches out to you for help, all of that leaves you in the dark.


You know what happens in the dark? You can’t see anything and you miss a lot.


If you’re not ready for big data now, the future won’t be getting any easier for you. Computer Services Corp. says the volume of data produced is expected to be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009, 75% of it being created by individuals. Even if all you care about is SEO, the major search engines are placing a renewed emphasis on the unstructured data represented by social.


So how can there possibly be no ROI in knowing your customers, listening to them, responding to them, making them undyingly loyal, retaining their business, and having them market you to their peers? Big Data is what can get you there. And that’s only going to happen if the CMO and CIO collaborate on data integration connecting social data to enterprise and marketing data.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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