The Big Debate : Are Big Data, Predictive Analytics & Social Media at odds with Basic Marketing?

The Big Debate : Are Big Data, Predictive Analytics & Social Media at odds with Basic Marketing?

By Syed Zainul Haque August 10, 2017 - 5,583 views

The way people have come to use various smart devices, and the rate in which smart devices are getting even smarter thanks to cloud computing, AI and IoT, Big Data is getting bigger than it used to be. As each device continues to contribute to the data pool, valuable consumer behavior patterns lie hidden in this unending sea of data.

To be frank, Big Data is quite unmanageable, and difficult to use, without the right tools and techniques. Big Data has given companies access to market patterns that were previously undiscovered and inaccessible, thanks to Predictive Analysis tools. Social media usage too continues to add to this ocean of data, which can prove to be a double edged sword. One has the option of using Big Data to understand and predict market outcomes, or one can choose to ignore it and continue engaging in outdated marketing techniques.

Marketing techniques are not static; they’ve always been dynamic

As any marketer worth his salt knows, promoting, selling, and distributing products and services follow a certain pattern. Yet, marketing has always adopted technology as science has evolved, though the basic premise has always been to promote, sell, and distribute.

In the olden days, marketing involved the town crier screaming out new products for a certain price. When printing technology became more accessible, businesses started to hand out leaflets and put up posters and banners in easily accessible places. With time, computers began to be used, and analytics and measuring slowly entered mainstream marketing processes, which helped to understand market trends.

Just a few decades ago, companies were busy analyzing trends using Microsoft Excel sheets, and sometimes using basic statistical tools to translate basic demographic data into something that would help in creating marketing and sales campaigns. There were naysayers back then too, claiming there wasn’t much to understand or use, with the results that analytical tools fetched. With the advent of social media marketing, there were naysayers again, who claimed social media is a fad, and that it was pointless to include social media marketing in traditional marketing processes. Today, even the most conservative marketing department is scrambling to communicate with its audiences on social media, and use that data to come up with better ad, marketing, and sales campaigns.

In short, you can clearly see how marketing structure hasn’t changed at all, even after hundreds of years. It has always been about understanding and communicating with an audience with the purpose of promoting, selling, and distributing products and services. This basic marketing premise has never been static though. It has always been dynamic, and has employed innovative techniques, strategies and technologies to address a market creatively, and understand it better.

How Client X sold travel insurance certificates in an unfamiliar market

The problem : One of our clients, let us call them X, wand to enter an unfamiliar market to promote and sell their travel insurance product. As the client did not possess any prior experience or knowledge about the market, it was difficult for them to develop a culturally-appropriate marketing campaign to promote, sell, and distribute travel insurance certificates.

The solution and the process: Our development team helped the client to understand various cultural factors, buying behaviors, market and industry trends, and social conversations with respect to insurance purchase, in the specified market. Social conversations were meta-analyzed to match with existing Big Data, using predictive analysis tools, to translate disparate data into understandable statistics, which were interpreted finally.

Statistical insights provided by predictive analysis tools helped the client to get an all-round picture about the market. This customer intelligence, drawn from various data sources, including social conversations and Big Data, helped the client to hotlist prospective customers who could be contacted.

High quality prospects and leads were profiled based on their psychographic and demographic variables, and marketing campaigns were tested before going live. Again, predictive analysis helped to predict the outcome of tentative marketing campaigns that were tested. Prospects that seemed to drop-out eventually were shortlisted too, and the campaign focused on bringing travel insurance certificates to only those who were most likely to purchase it.

What Predictive Analysis found: The said market had a tendency to travel in a certain pattern centered on specific holidays, specific weather patterns, and specific political events that took place. For example, the target audience traveled more often during periods when there were political arguments, probably to escape the negative atmosphere. Similarly, Predictive Analysis helped to predict when extreme weather condition like intense heat waves, and heavy rains occurred, periods during which the target market saw an increased number of flight tickets being booked.

Results: Predictive Analysis helped to automate marketing campaigns during many such situations, when people would be more likely to travel, and in turn purchase travel insurance certificates. A concerted effort to bring social media conversations, Big Data and predictive Analysis tools helped the client to enter an unfamiliar market, and consolidate its basic marketing strategy.     

Social media is already part of basic marketing

Most CMOs are hesitant to even discuss Predictive Analysis and big Data, because these terms still seem like buzzwords to them. There is also a misconception that traditional marketing techniques are at odds with newer tools and techniques such as Big Data and Predictive Analysis.

Yet, the truth is in plain sight: we already know that social media has helped us to reach out to our audiences and study markets, better than we ever did before. We also know that consumer behavior has changed in the last few years, with even the poorest of people using mobile devices to access information and to shop. We also use social media alongside traditional marketing practices in such a way that they now complement each other. No C-level executive would now argue that social media is at odds with basic marketing strategies. Social media is now an integral part of any marketing practice

Yet, there is a resistance toward Predictive Analysis and the way Big Data is being used in marketing. This is especially so among older C-level executives, who feel these newer technologies are “still emerging”, and at odds with basic marketing techniques.

Big Data and Predictive Analysis are central to modern marketing

Big Data, or the accumulated wealth of data that is sitting across cloud servers waiting to be analyzed and understood, is a treasure that few marketers can risk ignoring. Predictive Analysis is a technique in which statistical tools and complex programming are used to develop applications that analyze big Data, and predict outcomes.

The way predictive analysis can be used in a marketing situation is vast. You can engage in pre and post-promotion analysis, integrate various tools such as ERP and CRM to gain helpful insights related to shipping, distribution, and inventory management, and come up with products and services that are more in line with what your target audience really wants. Predictive Analysis uses psychographic, demographic, behavioral, and other variables to understand and predict outcomes that will help you to understand and communicate with both existing and newer markets.

In a similar vein, you can improve your sales and distribution management with the help of Predictive Analysis. If you closely observe, Big Data and Predictive Analysis only help you to do what you have been doing all this while, in a more sophisticated and efficient manner. Moreover, previous techniques have become obsolete because markets have changed a lot too, and have become more complex. Certainly, Big Data and Predictive Analysis are not at odds with basic marketing, but are actually part of modern basic marketing techniques.

Emerging technologies and techniques are never at odds with basic marketing

It must already be clear to you, after reading this article that Big Data, Predictive Analysis, and social media are not at odds with basic marketing. Instead, social media has evolved to become the most important platform to communicate and understand target audiences. Big Data has become the treasure chest from which insights can be drawn about various existing and newer markets. Predictive Analysis is the tool with which we understand Big Data, and predict outcomes across promotional, sales and distribution processes. In other words, there is hardly a reason to pretend to that these are fads that are at odds with basic marketing. In reality, these three are the most important components of today’s marketing.

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