Math is Becoming Your Biggest Ally in Online Campaigns

When I was in the third grade, I cheated on my 7’s multiplication tables (sorry, mom and dad) and I’ve been cursed ever since with the inability to succeed in math. That same year, I achieved something slightly more noble and had a short story published in a children’s magazine. It was then that I realized I would manifest my destiny through creative writing rather than spend my life crunching numbers and manipulating equations. And yet here I am, about to justify the relevance of math and how it is molding my industry I work in.

Algorithms in Simple Terms

Kevin Slavin, an assistant professor and founder of Playful Systems at MIT Media Lab, said in his 2011 TED Talk that algorithms “acquire the sensibility of truth because they repeat over and over again, and they ossify and calcify, and they become real.” In layman’s terms, an algorithm is a mathematical code that is entered into a computer program by computer scientists that obtains “big data” from you, me and any other stranger on this Earth online.

KEvin Slavin

Breaking Down “Big Data”

Big data can be defined back to 2001 when industry analyst Doug Laney separated it into three parts: Volume, velocity and variety.

  • Volume: Ranging from transaction-based data to data from social media that is so large it is challenging to analyze it.
  • Velocity:  The speed at which all this information is being shifted through.
  • Variety: Numeric data in traditional databases, information from applications, videos, e-mail, and beyond.

What the Pros are Doing

These three parts of big data are changing business operations for companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix because it’s aiding in better decision making. For instance, toward the end of 2013, Facebook replaced their News Feed algorithm from EdgeRank to Story Bumping. Story Bumping deciphers all the posts a specific user has seen and moves all the unread stories to the top. Netflix has their head in the cloud, literally. They are improving their online recommendation engine through “deep-learning” algorithms through Amazon’s cloud service. And can you even imagine your daily life without Google? Google computer scientists unveiled their newest search algorithm called Hummingbird that provides direct answers to complex questions.

HummingbirdHow to Use Big Data

Through all these different complex algorithms being created by, in my opinion, geniuses, big data is revealing insightful information about populations, segmented audiences and individuals. Social media account managers like myself are using this information to tailor how our brands target and nurture consumers to increase ROI.

Now here is a two part equation I can understand:

Computer scientists + Algorithms = Big Data

Big Data ÷ Analytics = Tailored campaigns for consumers that increase ROI

Want to chat about deciphering big data or school me on new and emerging algorithms? I welcome the conversation! Follow me on Twitter @whatupTUT or leave a comment below.

Marketing With Big Data

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could know exactly what your customers need before they start looking for it? That thought is now a reality with big data.

Big data is a large collection of your customers’ data (or potential customers) from both internal and external sources. This data includes digital sources such as social media, CRM and web behavior, but also includes traditional channels such as phone records, financial records and shopping habits. All of these things help you understand your customers in a unique way by analyzing their patterns and buying behaviors.

Think about big data like this. Imagine that you’re at a party and you see someone that you haven’t seen in awhile. Last time you talked, you told them about your new job promotion and that you just adopted a dog. When you run into them months later at a party, they ask you how your new job is going and inquire about your dog. This person remembered what you last spoke about and you two already have somewhat of a relationship. This concept should carry over into business, and businesses should have this same rapport with their customers.

Less than 10% of of marketers say they are currently using what data they have in a systematic way, while 71% of marketers say they plan to implement a big data analytics solution in the next two years. Why? Because you can give customers information before they even know they need it and engage with them in a personalized manner. Using big data, you’ll be able to give people the right kind of recommendations and a perfectly tailored message for where they are in the customer journey.

So how do you use big data for marketing? There are four steps to follow:

1. Listen. This step is where you monitor your customers’ social media, buying history, mobile activity and more. For example, let’s say you’re a restaurant that uses a POS system to put in orders, make reservations and take payments. Listen to the information you get from the POS system, including what your customers are ordering each night, how often they come in, what nights you sell the most wine, how much a customer is typically spending and so on. Every move your customer makes, you should be listening.

2. Gather and Analyze Data. Before you try to analyze your data, figure out what the problem is that you are trying to solve. What areas of your business need to be improved? Are you trying to predict customer behavior? Do you want to analyze your customers’ eating habits? Decide what you are trying to figure out before digging through the data. While you are bringing data together and analyzing it, understand the right message for each customer. Data analytics can be done with software tools that are commonly used for predictive analytics and data mining.

3. Assemble the Message. Now that you have analyzed your data, it’s time to transform it into a message to a target audience. Cut out all the information that you don’t need, because a lot of the data you collect won’t matter. When assembling the message, remember that you are using big data to to send a specific message to a specific group of people…this is not meant to be a message for broad demographics. This message should be used to create a meaningful interaction between the consumer and your business, so create different messages to target different audiences.

4. Deliver the Message. Once your message is targeted and put together, you have to get the message out to your target audience. Check to make sure that you have a responsive email design to deliver the correct message to someone on an iPhone versus an Android. Each message should be tailored correctly to the device being used; this is where customer segmentation comes into play. Delivering the message doesn’t only correspond to email, it can be used to help determine specials and coupons. For example, if you own a restaurant and notice that a large amount of your customers love IPA, you can “deliver the message” that you know what they want by creating an IPA special such as $3 pints of IPA on Thursdays. Whatever your message might be, you need to get it out to your target audience in the correct manner.

Use big data to stay one step ahead of your customers. Your business can start to make data-driven strategic decisions to understand your customers in a unique way and deliver a product/service that they need or want in a personalized way.