The explosion in e-commerce and digital marketing witnessed in the past decade has had some intriguing consequences for the structure of modern businesses. For one, web analytics tools have become some kind of holy scripture for marketing, prophesying market trends and denouncing the fake idols of online surveys and consumer focus groups. Big data is now the biggest influence on how companies structure their online content, but for all its merits, it comes with its own shortcomings.
A phrase few marketing professionals seem to be discussing, however, could provide an answer to many of big data’s flaws. Small data, individual analytics, unique metrics, whatever you call it, it can provide the key to engaging with individual consumers and clients on a level unachievable with broad-scatter analytics solutions.
Understanding the individual behind a process is important in any business, particularly when it comes to broad focus B2C relationships. Leveraging big data insights is essential to ensure maximum return on your chosen platform, but small data provides a real glimpse into the mind of an individual user, an invaluable tool when that individual user is making decisions that affect a project, company or even an entire industry. Something we see again and again at the top level of any sector.
Companies are waking up to the marketing value of big data, but the benefits of gathering small-scale analytics in digital marketing have gone largely unnoticed. In particular, individual analytics can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses, where the browsing behaviour of a single decision maker can mean the difference between a major sale or a missed opportunity.
Companies sending out financial reports to shareholders would usually have to request feedback to understand how well the report was received. With a personalized microsite, a company sends out their annual report to a select group then studies the small data to decipher exactly which elements of the report most interested the key decision makers. This can have a huge impact on how a company conducts its business, and how it’s perceived by those that matter most; the investors and customers.
Utilizing small data to study investor perceptions doesn’t have to be limited to just annual reports, however. Monthly newsletters provide an invaluable opportunity to better understand investors and their interest in new company developments. It can guide future business decisions and provide an event to engage with shareholders and staff alike on the issues that really matter to them.
For firms that make their bread and butter through seeking new business projects, pitching their skills in an original way can be an exhausting and fruitless task. For sectors like architecture, design and construction, pursuing new opportunities is integral to a company’s continued survival. A business could spend as much as half their annual revenue doggedly pursuing leads they have little to no hope of ever winning. Sending out large, printed portfolios comes with its own problems. It can be expensive to print and also to send overseas. Once delivered, the sender has no way of knowing if their portfolio has hit the right notes, or if it’s even been opened at all. But even if a company manages to impress with its portfolio, opportunities can crumble if the pitch doesn’t hit the right notes.
With the help of small data, firms can gauge a client’s interest by first sending them promotional material. With a microsite, an architecture firm can send it out with all the projects, experience and key architects relevant to the opportunity in hand. As soon as the client opens the site, companies like Clemmie can relay the analytics back to the architects. With details including the amount of time the client spent on the site, which sections of the portfolio most caught their eye and how much time they spent on each project, this small data can change the dynamic of the pitch in a big way. Now the architects have the data, they also have the framework around which to construct the pitch best for this particular client.
Marketing a brand to a mass audience isn’t easy, but the growth in data harvesting tools is helping fuel a new approach to business, both online and in the real world. With tools like Google Analytics, companies can systematically analyse how visitors interact with their content and study each stage of the click-through process, enabling them to streamline the experience and increase their ROI.
But when it comes to precision-targeted marketing, the list of resources starts to run thin. That’s because small data won’t provide the answers to big questions like 'why aren’t people engaging with my brand?' and 'why does my bounce rate double on my products page?' But marketing, perhaps more than any other sector, can always benefit from a closer look, and that’s exactly what small data is all about.
One example is a company who boast around 30,000 hits a day, but so far has struggled to make commercial use of the big data gathered through Google Analytics. That’s because their customers are limited to a select list of big industry players who could, at a push, probably be crammed into the same metro carriage.
By introducing microsites as a means of one on one direct marketing, this company can engage with the real decision makers on an intimate level for the first time. While before they were swimming in a sea of meaningless engagement data, today the company enjoys a significantly increased visibility and, just as importantly, a stronger rapport with their own clientele.
With marketing processes evolving every day, businesses have to constantly adapt and research new technological opportunities. To maintain that edge over the competition, firms must utilize every available resource. Small data can play an integral role in targeted marketing for the digital generation, but it will require companies to tackle their big data dependence.