“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.”
– Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President, Gartner
Big data is taking over. With the rise of the internet, IoT and consumer electronics like the smartphone, people are creating more and more usable data every day. Our world is slowly becoming digitized and with that transformation, a massive swell of information is now at our fingertips. Because of this, collecting information is easy. Properly understanding and leveraging this information is the hard part.
Everyone wants to be a part of the big data revolution, but so far there really aren’t a lot of companies that are properly implementing big data. One of the areas that big data is readily available for implementation is digital marketing. Through tools like Google Analytics, we are able to gain vast amounts of data from a website’s users that can be put to work.
What is big data?
It is hard to imagine being able to avoid hearing about how companies and organizations are using big data to create efficiency, cure disease, observe distant planets, or identify what you might like to view most in your Netflix queue. There are a staggering number of uses for big data and it seems like every organization wants to find out how they can leverage it to work for them. Big data is essentially any large data set that can be analyzed for trends, patterns, behaviors, and interactions.
Big Data and Digital Marketing
Big data has become a must for successful digital marketing campaigns and is what has proven them to be more effective than traditional forms of advertising. With the additional data available to marketers, we can remove the guesswork from a campaign and adjust more quickly to changing trends, successes, and failures that were possible through more traditional mediums.
Where does big data come from?
There are a few kinds of data that are particularly relevant to digital marketing. The first, and arguably most important, is search data. Search engine data can inform a marketer of current trends, consumer behaviors, and intent. Understanding how your target market is searching for your product or service online is imperative to making educated decisions about search engine marketing. A business can use search data to create a targeted online audience and maximize their visibility in front of consumers who are actively looking for their product or service at the moment of need.
Social media can also provide a plethora of useable information. The average American spends nearly 2 hours on social media every day. From social networks, we can collect a wide range of data, from demographics like age, gender, and education level to behaviors like what brands users follow, shopping preferences, and personal tastes. Being able to identify traits of your user base can be extremely helpful when trying to expand or market towards those users.
Web mining - collecting information from applications, browsers, server logs, web page traffic, interactions and other sources - is another source of information that is extremely important to optimize digital marketing efforts. Web mining is a fantastic resource that has the ability to inform us on what actions our users are taking, and equally important, what actions they aren’t taking when interacting with a business’s website or application.
Understanding what you see
“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a firehose.”
– Mitchell Kapor, Partner, Kapor Capital
The quantity of available data can be overwhelming and has led to a rise in available analytics tools for understanding and parsing all of the information. Tools like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Quantcast, or SEM Rush have become imperative for organizations of all sizes. To illustrate how pervasive these tools are, according to BuiltWith.com almost 30,000,000 live websites currently have Google Analytics installed and over 62% of all sites in the United States utilize a form of Google Analytics.