I live in on the 5th floor of an 83-year-old, mid-rise condominium building which is heated by the old fashioned radiator steam heat and cooled by individual window A/C units.
And I have two cats, for whom I shop online for cat food, supplements, and kitty litter.
Over the past few months, I’ve received:
- A telemarketing call to sell me ADT security services (I told the caller that he was calling a condo located in a secure building – he responded that he doesn’t know where he’s calling);
- Direct mail promotions from the electric company to sign up for the Energy Wise Rewards program, which helps reduce electricity usage by “cycling” central air conditioners or heat pumps (this building has no central air and no heat pumps!);
- E-mails from Pet Food Direct with titles and subject lines such as, “Great Tips for Walking With Your Dog,” and “Camping with Your Dog.”
So what the heck is going on? I have to wonder, especially with all the focus on “Big Data” in 2012.
Are companies focusing so much on Big Data that they are ignoring Little Data? Have marketers forgotten the basics of marketing?
Everyone was talking about Big Data – and trying to figure out how to harness it. According to IBM, there were 1.35 billion Google results for the search term “What is big data,” and 112 million blog posts discussing big data.
Mountains of data are being generated, thanks to technology and the Internet. If companies can harness their big data, the promise for marketing is the ability to make better decisions to optimize marketing spend and reach the right people with the right messages and the right time.
Yes, Big Data can do great things.
An excellent study by IBM and the Said Business School at the University of Oxford gives real world examples on how companies are using Big Data to serve customers better. The examples include an insurance provider that uses predictive analytics to improve fraud detection and speed up claims processing, and Danish wind turbine producer that uses one of the world’s largest supercomputers to make better decisions on turbine placement.
A Forbes article provides some success stories on the use of Big Data and advanced analytics to improve decisions on marketing spend and to grow sales.
But what about Little Data?
If you aren’t paying attention to Little Data – that is, those pieces of data that tell you about your target customers, you are throwing money down the drain.
Back to my original examples of the telemarketing call, direct mail piece, and email that I received – these are prime examples of marketers ignoring Little Data. How much money is the electric company wasting on sending direct mail promotions to customers who live in buildings that do not have central air or heat pumps? I’m sure that somewhere in all of their Little Data, they can figure out what type of building a customer lives in.
The online pet products company that sends me emails for dog owners could very easily find in their database that I have ordered only cat supplies for the past two years.
So, although Big Data is growing in importance for businesses, don’t forget that you’ve got a wealth of information in your Little Data.
Just have to remember to use common sense and basic marketing skills.
How does your company use data, both big and little?