Checking trends via Big Data is certainly preferable to just throwing darts at a board. Gathering large amounts of data can give the impression, and perhaps the illusion, that marketing decisions are made with care and forethought.
The pressure to provide personal information though, is relentless for both personal browsing and conducting business online. It’s true for you and for your prospects. And it all starts with the email address because, as B2B marketers, we rely on this data for our sales efforts and to make decisions about who we target.
Prospects are marketed to, over and over again. They are tired of feeling spammed and they will hold onto their contact information. Because business email addresses and personal information can often be linked, prospects can become even more loathe to part with their precious contact information.
Automated marketing services can heighten this dilemma because collection efforts are often not tailored well. A lot of marketers will see Big Data, take it more or less on face value and move on without getting into the guts of marketing and understanding what their customers really want.
We are a ‘set it and forget it’ world, and it can negatively impact marketing efforts. Prospects can feel like marketers are shouting at them. Big Data can help us cut through the noise. But the problem is there is so much of it that marketers use it mostly for trend analysis. Looking at the individual behaviors of over a billion people is a fool’s errand. Too close and the prospect can feel uncomfortable. When only looking at the behaviors of one person, following their activities and noting their every move, the effect is understandably intrusive.
Cautions for Marketers
Post hoc, ergo hoc is a logical fallacy meaning that just because Y happened after X, Y was not necessarily caused by X. For example, let’s say you wake up every morning and whistle something. It doesn’t matter what. One morning you forget to, and your car is stolen. Did the absence of whistling cause your car to disappear? Were the thieves deterred by your amazing whistling talent and skill, and waiting for the day that you forget, for an opportunity to pounce?
Of course not.
Paying attention to your sample size can help you spot real buyer trends. With Big Data, that is often not in question. But when scanning more individual records from explicit leads, for example, recognize that the sample you are focusing on might not be representative. Dive into what’s behind the sample and the population, including why this group is aggregated together in the first place.
Make sure your samples are adequate and representative. And don’t assume that dissimilar users will necessarily go along with the majority. Targeting prospects is not a ‘one size fits all’ activity. Big Data can’t always have the answers. The trends don’t apply to everyone. Specific information can feel too well-targeted. Somewhere in the middle, is where best practices lie.
Beyond Big Data, beyond the big results and the millions of rows of information, a more essential truth lies. Getting to know your prospects, using a 1:1 approach, can help you to avoid the pitfalls of Big Data. Know them and you’ll be able to better understand the buyer’s journey. It does require some time and effort, however.
Somewhere inside the data is the sweet spot sweet spot of prospect targeting and customer profiling, where your prospect receives the information that they need without it being overwhelming, and delivered with the right messaging.
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