In the past two years, the Internet has generated a zettabyte – that’s one sextillion bytes – of data. While abstract numbers might not do much to impress you, the realization that this number dwarfs the entirety of human records before it, as explained by Harvard magazine’s Jonathan Shaw, should help bring the astounding nature of “Big Data” to life in a meaningful way. Despite this eye-catching stat, does this massive pile of data mean anything to your email marketing campaign? To find out, let’s dig into the potential connection between Big Data sets and a better understanding of the people that matter most to your brand.
What the Heck Is Big Data?
First off, it’s probably worth laying the groundwork with a proper definition of “Big Data” for those readers who aren’t quite familiar with the term. According to Edd Dumbill of Forbes magazine, these data sets encompass an amount of information that exceeds the capacity of conventional systems and covers a wide range of variables and content. Basically, Big Data offers up previously unimaginable insight into a particular area of interest – in this case, your targeted email audience. Simply put, brands and marketers alike have never had a tool as inclusive and encompassing as Big Data on their side before in the history of any form of marketing.
Facing down Audience Challenges
While this sounds great, it still doesn’t answer the overarching question; does Big Data have a home in the world of email marketing? As the team at Marketing Charts explains, there are plenty of hindrances and roadblocks standing between your campaign and email optimization that Big Data could help answer or eliminate.
To start, 40 percent of the brands and individuals polled in the study conducted by this team noted that accessing relevant customer data from multiple channels and sources was a time-consuming problem. Additionally, simply coordinating data in general across marketing channels, and not from a single source, also stood out as a concern for 34 percent. Finally, 32 percent noted that putting this data to good use by developing relevant engagement served as the final issue when it came to leveraging Big Data into exemplary marketing content.
Capitalizing on the Data Trend
So if Big Data offers exceptional insight into what’s going on with the people on the other side of the email inbox, but it’s a hard tool to work with at times, the next logical step in the discussion centers on how best to get the most out of these sets of information. As Tracey Wallace of Business 2 Community suggests, getting your first-party data sources in order is a great place to start.
First-party data includes any information your brand harvests via surveys, consumer feedback, and other interaction with your contact list members. The big key here is ensuring you always play by the rules as far as transparency and consent go, as well as keeping your data organized and accessible.
If you’re ready to branch into second-party sources, like Facebook and other social platforms, Wallace goes on to explain that keeping up with the latest regulations and terms of service imposed by these outlets can help maximize the influx of data. For instance, Facebook and LinkedIn both are becoming stricter in terms of releasing sensitive consumer data, so exploring other platforms or retooling how you harvest this information could keep the flow of data steady and consistent.
Finally, delving into the world of massive third-party data sets opens up the full potential of Big Data. However, access to this information often requires an additional hit to your marketing budget, as well as a keen eye for trend analysis and data referencing. If you’re not comfortable sifting through mountains of data on your own, employing the services of an expert or trained professional could save you a significant amount of stress and expedite the process considerably.
Once you have your chosen data in hand, don’t be afraid to follow its lead and build email content that hones in on relevant and engaging subject matter. After all, what good is the information gleaned from this data for if you decide to second guess the trends and insight held within?
Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge into data-driven thinking and email content generation, it’s only a matter of time before this approach becomes the industry norm. As Dan Worth of the United Kingdom’s V3 tech news site reports, the Internet will generate an unbelievable 400 zettabytes of information a year by 2018 – easily eclipsing the paltry single zettabyte of the past year and exponentially expanding the parameters of the already insightful connection brands share with customers in the inbox.