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5 ways Big Data can improve your marketing strategy

Big data is big news and it’s changing the world around us at an alarming speed; but what’s it all about and how can it help you improve your marketing strategy? Read on to learn the 5 things you can do right now to improve your marketing strategy!

What is ‘Big Data’?

‘Big Data Guru’ Bernard Marr commented “Big data is changing the world and transforming the way we live, find love, cure cancer…and operate business” (2015).

Big data is the term given to the huge volumes of data derived from the digital activity of a business. The idea behind it is that everything done online leaves a digital trace (data).  If analysed correctly, that knowledge can be used to create new opportunities for businesses.

How can marketers tap into big data to transform their marketing strategies?

In its simplest concept, Sean Duffy of the Duffy Agency, describes marketing as ‘creating demand for a product or service’.  Big data gives you lots of customer insight that you can use to improve your marketing strategy and create more demand for your products.

Read on to find out how you can tap into big data to transform your marketing strategy!

1 – Know the difference between structured and unstructured big data

Big data stream

Structured data is any data that is easy analysed – typically through spreadsheets, algorithms or charts.  Unstructured data is everything else – think tweets, Facebook posts, photos and emails.

All data is useful for marketers (more about that later!) and offers insight into your customers and how they interact with your brand. However, unstructured data is more difficult to analyse so your focus will depend on what resources you have.

If you have lots of unstructured data but don’t have the resources to do it, online labour markets like Amazon Mechanical Turk can offer services to help you.

2 – Find out what big data sources are available to you

Analysing big data from more than one source will give you a more complete picture of your customers. You’ll also be able to use this  knowledge to improve your marketing strategy.  But first you need to know what data sources are out there for you to utilize!  Some of the most common sources are listed below.  Talk to colleagues in other departments and you may find other sources specific to your business.

Social Media

When we think of social media in marketing terms, we think of it as a way to engage with customers, employees and fans.  However, social media also generates huge amounts of unstructured data that you can use to improve your marketing strategy.  For example social media can give you information about your customers’ buying patterns, likes and dislikes.

You can take different approaches to analyse and manage this data.  You can be proactive and engage directly with your customers. Alternatively, you could analyse third party mentions unrelated to any content you’ve published online. What people say about your brand online and how they react to your posts provides lots of useful information.

Website analytics

Your website should be the easiest place to get access to structured date.  Understanding how people use your website can help you improve the structure of your website.  In doing so, more people will find you online, which should increase the number of products purchased. (Galit Shnueli, 2017).

Online paid promotion

Data from online paid promotion such as Google AdWords tells you the keywords that have the highest conversion rate.  You can use this information in many ways.  For example, to change your content strategy across your digital channels as certain keywords deliver higher conversion rates than others.

3 – Have a clear purpose in mind

With all the data available to you, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Michael Björn, Head of Research at Consumerlab, Ericisson offers good advice for anyone looking to tap into the power of big data:  always have a clear purpose in mind.  Before you start to analyse any data, ask yourself – what do I want to know?

You might want to know what influences the open rate of a direct email campaign. If you know that most customers open your emails in the morning, you might decide to send by timezones  next time, so more people receive your email in the morning.

4 – Develop your skills  

Person analyzing big data on paper

“Big data is here to stay”, according to Hoerl et al., so you should invest time and effort to ensure you have the skills required to analyse and interpret big data. After all, you’ll only be able to improve your marketing strategy if you’ve understood the data properly.

5 – Turn big data knowledge into results!

Finally, it might sound obvious, but don’t forget to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from big data, to improve your marketing strategies and create greater demand for your products and brand.



Bernard Marr (2015) Big Data, Using smart big data analytics and metrics to make better decisions and improve performance.

Galit Shmueli (2017) Analyzing Behavioural Big Data: Methodological, practical, ethical and moral issues, Quality Engineering, 29:1, 57-74.

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2 Replies
  • Mairi-Anne Fisher

    March 22, 2018 at 22:14 CEST

    Big data coupled with the power of an effective Insight Analyst is a key element informing digital service transformation for our NHS customers.

  • Zoe Clark

    March 26, 2018 at 13:05 CEST

    Fascinating the way social media can be used for market interpretation and trying to capture target market audience.. most people think it’s coincidence the ads that appear on their Facebook feed.. it’s clever analysis from search histories etc that show these “here’s something you may be interested in” ads.

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