Big data is a big deal. You may have passed it off as the latest in a string of trends and buzzwords, but I can assure you it is here to stay. The meaning of big data, which loosely relates to the accessibility and availability of data in everyday life, has over time evolved from a literal meaning to a more malleable interpretation. It’s lack of definition suggests how all-encompassing data has become in our society – the world is developing into an increasingly digitised landscape, and with each step we take we leave a trail of information in our wake.
Recently I attended a bucks and found myself in an intriguing conversation with one of the groomsmen. He mentioned to me that he worked at IBM in their data analytics division and told me that the company had the ability to track everything we were doing in a browser from a click of a mouse to a press of a keyboard key. While I have long been aware of the ability to track users online, I found this very interesting as it highlighted the micro-level in which corporations were looking to grow data on consumers. The issue of perversion aside (we’ll leave that to the ethics committees), the prevalence of data creates new opportunities to improve marketing and engagement strategies in advertising.
Take for example, the consulting gig we did for BizCover – an online website that compares and sells insurance online. When we were first approached to see if we could help increase sales, the first step was to understand what data was available. After analysing the data we believed that a complete redesign of the website would be highly beneficial but because we understood the need to keep the website live for business reasons we began to look at smaller changes that could be made to produce incremental benefits to the conversion funnel.
We started by creating a new design for key landing pages (a landing page is a web page that serves as an entry point to a website) which involved a more approachable look and feel using existing copy. After this was implemented we began running a series of tests ranging from colour, copy and imagery. Using multivariate testing we simultaneously tested multiple versions of a page. This meant that every visitor was shown the same page but with slight differences – it could be a green button instead of an orange one for example. We tested people high-fiving, bears, puppies, couples, women looking suggestively and much more.
In a couple weeks what started as intuitive guesses, began to provide us with quantifiable results. In some instances, we increased lead generation by as much as 14%.
With big data, marketers can better engage consumers, businesses can be more agile in adapting to customer needs, and customers can share an enhanced brand experience. Consider the following scenario:
A consumer leaving for a holiday in three days time wants to buy beige shorts for their overseas trip. With this knowledge, the marketer specifically displays advertisements to the consumer relating to discounted products suitable for their trip in the colour of preference. The consumer selects one of the products and upon placing the order, the retailer – aware that the consumer is leaving the country in a couple days – ensures that a priority delivery is made, or alternatively arranges for the product to be picked up from their duty free store at the country of arrival.
Such a scenario is currently unheard of but is not impossible. In the book ‘Big Data’ by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, they give a great example how data can be used to improve bottom line in unusual ways. The extract describes what Walmart, the largest retailer in the world found when they began to analyse their pool of data.
The company noticed that prior to a hurricane, not only did sales of flashlights increase, but so did sales of Pop-Tarts, a sugary American breakfast snack. So as storms approached, Walmart stocked boxes of Pop-Tarts at the front of stores next to the hurricane supplies, to make life easier for customers dashing in and out – and boosted its sales.
In my previous post I mentioned the importance of understanding the sales funnel. Part of this process is knowing your numbers and being able to logically deduce insights from your own data. The thing to remember however, is that data in itself is not the answer to every problem. In our line of work everything great starts with an idea. The creation of something new is not accomplished with facts and figures but comes from inside us. It is for this reason that to be truly innovative we will need to combine good creative with fast, accurate and relevant data. Thus the data driven creative is born.