How “Big Data” is Transforming Digital Marketing

Big DataBig Data is the catch word of the moment. As the Internet metrics such as click-through rates, bounce rates, impressions or page views become commonly understood by large proportions of the business community, the role of marketing has transformed into the science of big data analysis.

Marketers can choose from a variety of ways to spend their marketing budgets – from SEO, to PPC (pay-per-click), Facebook and old school display adverts, to social media management and tracking and email marketing. Just as the routes for online users to interact online have grown, both in the paid and organic arenas, so too have the methods of marketing to online users have grown with it. As that activity grows then the tracking and reporting grows too.

So along with this activity comes masses of digital data from disparate sources and ushered in an era of ‘Big Data’. Now large sets of data that, when mined, could reveal insight about online marketing efforts and effect for all stakeholders. For traffic there’s Omniture or the free (but relatively flawed) Google Analytics. For social media brand tracking there’s Brandwatch (based on the same street as us) and Radian 6. For PPC there is DC Storm (also based on the same street as us). And for organic search there is Intelligent Positioning which includes data such as search rankings, site visits, SERPs and click-data.

So what are the implications of this big data and digital analytics trend?

In its Web Analytics Buyer’s Guide, Econsultancy reported that the analytics market was up despite the economic downturn and growing well beyond many other sectors at around 9%.

The study also found that companies use analytics predominantly for both customer acquisition and retention, and 59% of those involved n the study regarded information relating to the cost of gaining a customer or lead as ‘high priority’.

For marketeers and brand managers the approach was to ask “What is and what is not working in each channel?” This includes the use of tactics like conversion optimisation, content optimisation, web analytics and PPC bid management and tracking. It encompasses metrics such as bounce rates, click-through curves and conversion rates in order to diagnose the levers that require adjustment.

Until recently, this was the only way marketers talked of online marketing. But now in addition to enhancing the multi-channel view, big-data also enables the marketer to go deeper in the channel view. Whereas SEO used to be solely about search PageRank and positions for example, now it is about long tail rankings, conversions, traffic, bounce rate, social interaction and so on.

Now a new approach, call it the ‘multi-channel’ approach covers the all the online marketer’s channels and everything therein. It began with attribution, but thanks to ‘Big Data’ can leverage all those data points and measurements for actionable intelligence. This is what Intelligent Positioning does already with its own SEO software and Platform, offering clients that granularity in their own businesses across the world.

This approach is reflected in a separate finding from the Econsultancy study that spending on in-house web analytics staff grew by 6%. This means that UK companies are increasingly investing in internal analysts to interpret this Big Data technology.

The Need for Big Data is industry agnostic

Given the growth in big data from all forms of online marketing channels we need to take a much more holistic approach to what and how the data is telling us. If you were an Oxford street store you’d need to know how many people visit London. How many visit your competitors. How many walk down Oxford Street. How many walk into your store. What attracted them to your store over a competitor. How many leave without buying. What the average spend is. For online there is an authority for every element of this regardless of the industry.

The growth in the volume and breadth of data across online marketing channels combined with the maturation of marketing technology to leverage that data cross-functionally means the era of big data is upon us. Well for those you have the right tools and intelligence systems.

And this then is where Intelligent Positioning had the foresight to develop a comprehensive technology platform nearly 6 years ago that was truly universal, could handle any search worldwide in almost any language or dialect. Searching in Google “translated into English” is no comparison to searching in the local idiom. And all of this in real time. So for the first time marketers can really start to leverage all the available data into their marketing strategies. For some, this begins with starting to think about their marketing channels in a more holistic fashion.

For others, it means taking action on a multi-channel operations utilising all the features and technology that will enable them to make the transition into marketers leveraging this holistic multi-channel approach. This as they say, changes everything from a brand or marketing perspective.