Big data is bigger than ever before, both in the information made available to companies and to the number of businesses using it to improve their marketing strategies. However, more is not always better; sometimes big data can become bad data without the use of a precise and honed data plan.
Many businesses focus on the wrong kind of data, leading them astray from the information they need to improve their marketing plans or approaching it in the wrong fashion altogether.
Here are a few ways bad data leads to bad results in businesses, and how to improve it.
Outdated Contact Information
Customer contact information is invaluable — email campaigns, marketing research — and is tried and proven as the most effective method for building customer relationships. While other forms of marketing do have favorable results, the right contact information is invaluable. For instance, “Email is a critical medium for online customer service,” according to Help Scout.
However, contact information changes regularly and few businesses take the time (or use the right tools) to verify and update customer information, leaving a large hole in their marketing strategy.
The solution to this lies in the problem; the idea of gathering data is to connect with customers and prompt interaction, leading to sales. When you entertain, engage and create value for customers, they are much less likely to avoid your marketing campaigns; and should their contact information change, they’re far more likely to share their new information.
Poorly Focused Data
Marketing with big data is like finding a needle in a haystack. Many small businesses collect a lot of information about customers and accept it at face value. Yet , trends are ever-changing, and this can leave your business to be out of touch with the times, catering to a trend that has passed by.
Worse yet, consumer tastes are difficult to narrow down, since a passing fancy may not reflect actual interests and purchase behavior. Poorly focused data often means that data, while large, is irrelevant for targeted marketing campaigns.
A way to combat this lies in the approach. Rather than gathering a team to sort through a multitude of straw in the haystack, set specific criteria for the data you are seeking. What is the specific taste (i.e. data points) you wish to cater to? What data do you know about the specific group of consumers you are hoping to target?
By setting limitations on your search, you can sort through the masses of data and find more actionable information, which will allow you to create and adjust your marketing strategy immediately.
Stalkerish Data Collection
With many apps and programs, or even websites, you may have noticed a long terms and conditions agreement detailing how a company will use your data and what data it will extract. While this is a wise legal move, customers are often irritated by the legalese and suspicious about the uses of their data. Even if the data you collect is no different than before, a lengthy notice will make it seem as though there is something sinister afoot.
In the modern age, hyper connectivity has come with several trade-offs, such as a multitude of conveniences in exchange for a lack of privacy. Yet, by overplaying your hand and gathering information on customers that is far too specific, customers feel as though they are under surveillance and will lose confidence in your business.
The solution is balance, transparency and caution. A legal notice to ensure your customer is aware their data is being used is important. However, by focusing the type of data needed (and sharing how you plan to use the data, for personalization etc.) you can extract less and reduce the legal rigmarole, thereby making customers feel more secure and confident.
Big and small data, alike, can be the best tool in many small business marketing arsenals. But when used poorly, it can end up harming rather than helping your bottom line.
By keeping these data mistakes in mind, you can apply better strategies to data collection. This ensures you will not only receive good data, but are able to use it constructively with the right big data tools, like to Apache Spark, to drive your brand and your business forward.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and freelance writer. His work can be found on Wired, SmartDataCollective and MakeUseOf. Connect with @ricknotdelgado on Twitter.