The importance of data to a business’s success isn’t a recent discovery. For decades, the fate of American television shows rested solely in the hands of The Nielsen Company, which still monitors citizens’ viewing habits via customer surveys and meter readings today. However, thanks to an incredible influx of information from a variety of sources, including cell phones, computers, and even sensor-equipped trains, brands have more access to analytics than ever before. Harvard Professor Gary King even referred to this stream of statistics as a 'big data revolution' (Harvard Magazine). While the amount of information is impressive, King doesn’t believe the quantity is the 'revolutionary' part.
'The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.'
But for many companies, knowing how to properly use acquired information is a major problem. When brands consider the following factors of big data, they are better equipped to reach consumers:
Timeliness of the Data
'In the rush to avoid being left behind, I also see that many companies risk becoming data rich but insight poor,' says data expert and author Bernard Marr (Forbes). 'They accumulate vast stores of data they have no idea what to do with, and no hope of learning anything useful from.'
One major issue with businesses storing data but not taking action is that the information goes bad quickly. Companies will keep the information hoping it will be of some use though it’s 'no longer relevant, inaccurate or outdated,' says Marr. In other words, 'time is of the essence.'
Source of the Data
There is a common misconception that first-party data is superior to third-party data. While first-party data is owned by the company that obtained it, the data does not change as it’s transferred from party to party. That’s why data expert Kevin Tan believes companies should focus 'on the quality and transparency of the data, not the party label.'
'Advertisers that choose to work with high-quality data providers can obtain third-party data that is timely and clear. Used together with first-party data, top quality third-party data enables brands to build a fuller picture of target audiences,' says Tan. (Exchange Wire)
In order to determine the quality of the information they receive, brands should also know where their data providers get their statistics. Some sources, like the US Census Bureau, may contain a broad range of data, while others, like market research surveys, may provide more specific information. By making use of data from a variety of sources, brands have the ability to assess their target audience and create better marketing campaigns.
Accuracy of the Data
You may be wondering, 'How do I know what data is usable?' After all, the sheer number of data resources suggests that some of the data will either 1) not pertain to every business or 2) be incorrect. And while it does not serve your business to cater to every online consumer, know that the specificity of the information big data, especially third-party data, can provide is unparalleled. Information is collected by a variety of tools ranging from desktop cookies and e-tags to smartphone IDs.
'All this allows firms to glean what sites users have visited, what they have shopped for, what postcode they live in and so on. From this, the firms can infer other personal details, such as their income, the size of their home and whether it is rented or owned.' (The Economist)
While the amount of data can be overwhelming, utilizing big data will not only help you reach your consumers but anticipate what they want next.