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Making use of the big data you already have

Technology & Data

Making use of the big data you already have


For those considering investing in data analytics, Deeps De Silva reminds us we have vast quantities of rich data already available to us in our accounts, CRM, web traffic and more.

When it comes to marketing campaigns, even the big guns can fail spectacularly. No matter how many millions you pour into a campaign, it’s possible for it to flop and even damage your brand.

One thing that many flops have in common is a failure to understand the brand’s target audience: who they are, and how they might respond. In the old days a campaign might have been a shot in the dark but today, thanks to all the data we can collect on consumers, marketers should have a better idea of what they’re doing.

When we talk of ‘Big Data,’ it raises the spectre of investing in expensive data capture and analysis software: a burden on the tight budgets of many small to mid-sized companies. While there’s no doubt that this kind of investment has a great potential ROI, you can get started earlier, because you already have Big Data available to you: it’s right there in your accounts, in your CRM, your web traffic, even in things like the contacts on your smartphone.

Let’s look at how you can use it.


1. How they found you

Start with the very beginning of the customer’s journey, before working your way through each subsequent phase. What search terms are prospective customers using to find your website? What are they typing into Google that you can capture? Then consider how you rank for those terms, and what you could do to rank higher (SEO).

Search terms often tell you what customers really want. Rather than searching for ‘cordless kettle,’ perhaps they’re searching for ‘red cordless kettle,’ or ‘energy saving cordless kettle.’ Getting a sense of what’s popular can help you better choose what you promote, as well as plan future products.


2. What they do on your site

What pages do visitors arrive at on your website and where do they go? Perhaps they’re watching videos or reading your FAQ so they’re in the early stages of their journey. Or they may be further along, already searching for products and moving towards purchase.

You can also track data for how they get to each page: what menus they use, and whether they click on words or images. This can be very powerful when tweaking your site design and optimising the customer’s experience to encourage them to stick with you.


3. Where they’re from

You already have your customers’ shipping details, so it’s easy to see where they’re from. You can also tell what gender most of them are.

What patterns can you see?

If certain products are selling really well to males in Victoria it may be worth doing extra promotion there. Conversely, if very few females in Queensland are transacting with you compared to other states, there may be an issue that needs investigating.

Knowing where customers are located can also help you better plan logistics and distribution.


4. What they bought

Obviously you already know what your customers bought, and when, and where it was delivered to, how much they spent and their method of payment. It’s there in your accounts even if you haven’t crunched your way through it. Once you do analyse it, it’s solid gold in terms of usefulness and insights. Can you detect seasonal patterns? Do people tend to put higher value orders on credit cards but lower ones on PayPal?

Armed with this data you can start trying to forecast future progress. You might realise something isn’t selling, and consider doing a promotion or discounting it, while ordering extra of the units that are selling.


5. How they used your products

What are customers actually doing with the products they buy from you? Your engineers likely have a lot of data on this to share with the team. Usage varies significantly within organisations as well, among different departments and business groups.

For example with Dropbox, we find that our marketing team shares a lot of files and media externally with agencies. They create collaborative networks. Whereas the finance team works predominantly internally, collaborating amongst themselves.

This kind of data on how people are using your product really helps with product development. You can take the information to improve your product, and offer different versions. If a majority of users are using it externally, for sharing, what other new features might interest them?

Many businesses are scared by data. There’s so much data in front of them that they don’t know where to start. They may also fear they don’t have sufficient expertise to make use of data.

Traditionally you’d have a data team that was fairly technical and savvy with databases and making SQL queries. But you don’t necessarily need these skills any more. There are now tools for regular end-users to get information straight away, that visualise and analyse it for you right from your mobile phone.


Deeps De Silva is head of marketing APAC at Dropbox, you can follow him on twitter @deepfresh.

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