Category Archives: Analytics

Untangling Big Data for Digital Marketing

customers
The web and its online communities are expanding the use of big data. Ecommerce conglomerates including Amazon and eBay have already transformed the market through their innovative, highly scalable digital platforms and product recommender systems. Moreover, internet giants like Google and Facebook are leading the development of web analytics, cloud computing and social media networks. The emergence of user-generated content in fora, newsgroups, social media and crowd-sourcing platforms are offering endless opportunities for researchers and practitioners to “listen” to marketplace stakeholders; including customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the media.

Unlike the traditional transactional records that were conspicuous in past legacy systems, e-commerce systems continuously gather insightful data from the web. Much of the value of data is derived from secondary uses that were not intended in the first place. Every dataset can possess some intrinsic, hidden, not-yet-unearthed value. Having said that, many potential applications could skim along the edges of what might be ethical, moral or even legal.

In addition, online review sites and personal blogs often contain opinion-rich information that may be explored through textual and sentiment analysis. Arguably, consumer sentiment analysis may not be designed for automation but could be better adapted for the real-time monitoring of the marketing environment. Successful businesses strive to understand their customers’ personas so that they target them the right content with the relevant tone, imagery and value propositions.

Therefore, advertisers continuously gather consumer data and use it well to personalise every aspect of their users’ experience. They strive to take advantage of their consumers’ cognitive behaviour as they try to uncover and trigger consumer frailty at their individual level. It may appear that companies gather data on their customers in order to manipulate the market. They need to establish processes which determine when specific decisions are required. Firms use big data to delve into enormous volumes of information that they collect, generate or buy. Marketers need to realise that it’s important to analyse, decide and act expeditiously on data and analytics. It’s simply not enough to be able to monitor a continuing stream of information. Businesses should be quick in their decision making and take action.

Companies may use what they know about human psychology and consumer behaviour to set prices. Behavioural targeting is nothing new in digital marketing. When firms hold detailed information about their consumers, they may customise every aspect of their interaction with them. On the other hand, there could be instances when certain marketing practices could lead to unnecessary nuisances. Nowadays, customers are frequently bombarded with marketing endeavours including email promotions that are often picked up as spam. Therefore, one-size-fits-all messages could also have negative implications on prospective customers.

Eventually, firms could use this database to deliver promotional content to remind customers on their offerings. Consumer lists whether they are automated or in the cloud should always be used to deliver enhanced customer experiences. Customer-centric marketing is all about satisfying buyers. Customers may in turn become advocates for the business. Hence, technology has become instrumental for marketers in their ongoing interactions with people.

Evidently, without data, businesses could not keep a track record of their marketing effectiveness and performance stats. Engagement metrics; including, email-open rates, click through rates, pay per click and the like enable marketers to continually fine tune their individual customer targeting. Today, many individuals are becoming quite active on review sites, such as Yelp.com or Tripadvisor; and on social media channels; including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google Plus.These modern digital marketing tools are helping business to engage in social conversations with consumers. Social media networks are often rich in customer opinion and contain relevant behavioural information. Moreover, the social media analytics could capture fast-breaking trends on customer sentiments toward products, brands and companies.

Businesses may be interested in knowing whether there are changes in online sentiment and how these correlate with sales changes over time. Digital media is supporting many businesses to map out how customers receive promotions, messages, newsletters and even advertisements. Relevant data is also helping these businesses to keep a focus on their customer needs and wants.

This contribution suggests that there is scope for businesses to consider realigning (and personalising) their incentives toward individual consumers by using data-driven marketing. Many businesses have become proficient on the use of maintaining databases of prospects and customer lists. They gather this valuable information to communicate and build relationships. This data collection may possibly drive new revenue streams and build long-term loyalty.

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Crunching Big Data for Operations Management

Big data

For decades businesses have been using data in some way or another to improve their operations. For instance, an IT software could support small enterprises in their customer-facing processes. Alternatively, large corporations may possess complex systems that monitor and detect any changes in consumer sentiment towards brands.

Recently, many industry leaders, including McKinsey, IBM and SAS among others have released relevant studies on big data. It transpires that they are using similar terminology to describe big data as a “situation where the volume, velocity and variety of data exceed an organisation’s ability to use that data for accurate and timely decision-making” (SAS). These providers of business intelligence solutions have developed technical approaches to storing and managing enormous volumes of new data.

The handling and untangling of such data requires advanced and unique storage, management, analysis and visualisation technologies. The terms of “big data” and “analytics” are increasingly being used to describe data sets and analytical techniques in applications ranging from sensor to social media. Usually, big data analytics are dependent on extensive storage capacity and quick processing power requiring a flexible grid that can be reconfigured for different needs. For instance, streaming analytics process big data in real time during events to improve their outcome.

Insightful data could easily be retrieved from the Web, social media content and video data among other content. Notwithstanding, such data could be presented in different forms; ranging from recorded vocal content (e.g. call centre voice data) or it can even be genomic and proteomic data that is derived from biological research and medicine.
Big data is often used to describe the latest advances in technologies and architectures. Nowadays, big data and marketing information systems predict customer purchase decisions. This data could indicate which products or services customers buy, where and what they eat, where and when they go on vacation, how much they buy, and the like.

Giant retailers such as Tesco or Sainsbury every single day receive long-range weather forecasts to work 8-10 days ahead. Evidently, the weather affects the shopping behaviour of customers. For example, hot and cold weather can lead to the sales of certain products. It may appear that weather forecasting dictates store placement, ordering and supply (and demand) logistics for supermarket chains. Other retailers like Walmart and Kohl’s also use big data to tailor product selections and determine the timing of price markdowns.

Shipping companies, like U.P.S. are mining data on truck delivery times and traffic patterns in order to fine-tune their routing. This way the business will become more efficient and incur less operational costs. Therefore, big data extracts value by capturing, discovering and analysing very large volumes of data in an economic and expeditious way. This has inevitably led to a significant reduction in the cost of keeping data.

Big data can also be linked with production applications and timely operational processes that enable continuous improvements. Credit card companies are a good illustration of this dynamic as direct marketing groups at credit card companies create models to select the most likely customer prospects from a large data warehouse. Previously, the process of data extraction, preparation and analysis took weeks to prepare and organise. Eventually, these companies realised that there was a quicker way to carry out the same task. In fact, they created a “ready-to-market” database and system that allowed their marketers to analyse, select and issue offers in a single day. Therefore, this case indicates that businesses became much more effective (and efficient) in their processes through iterations and monitoring of websites and call-centre activities. They could also make personalised offers to customers in milliseconds as they kept tracking responses over time.

Organisations are increasingly realising the utility of data that could bring value through continuous improvements in their operations. This contribution indicated that relevant data needs to be captured, filtered and analysed. Big data is already swamping traditional networks, storage arrays and relational database platforms. The increased pervasiveness of digital and mobile activity, particularly from e-commerce and social media is leading to the dissemination of meaningful data – that is being created each and every second. Successful, online businesses can gain a competitive advantage if they are capable of gathering and crunching data.

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