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Is Big Data changing your marketing?

You’ve probably been hearing all the pundits talk about Big Data. I talk about it too. But is Big Data really changing your marketing? Probably not. Most of us are doing a crappy job with “small data,” and the reason has nothing to do with data. It has to do with us.

Most of us have data all around us, but we don’t use it. We know how many visitors come to our websites. We know how many likes our fan page has. But we don’t know how much profit our marketing tactics lead to. We don’t know the lifetime value of our customers.

And that matters.

We’re counting things that are easy to count, but we aren’t counting things that help us make better decisions. Who cares how many visitors you get to your website? Suppose visitors went up 2% last month? What do you do next month? The same things as last month?

The way to be ready for Big Data is to start making marketing decisions with Little Data. When we start analyzing the effectiveness of each technique individually, that is when we can start to improve our marketing. It isn’t important to count the total number of site visitors–what you want to know is whether a particular video or blog post drove visitors. What were they about? What is the best thing to try next time?

Every year, computing power increases at a lower price.  What that means is that we will be inundated with more and more data as time goes on. What passes for Big Data now will be laughably small in a few years. So how can we be ready?

We need to set up the feedback loops now that help us make better decisions. If we adopt data-based decision making around every marketing decision, we will be ready for truly Big Data in the years to come. First, we need to change the culture so that decisions are made based on data–whatever data we have now. Next, we’ll make our decisions using more and more data.

What about you? Are you preparing for the data-driven culture? What’s important is that data is big, that decisions are based on data.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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