The Top Ways Your Company Can Use Big Data to Improve Marketing and Customer Service

Perhaps you’ve seen big data mentioned in a radio or television commercial, or maybe you’ve read an article or two on the subject. The concept can seem a bit confusing. Simply put, big data is information too large and complex to manipulate or organize manually or with standard methods. The idea has gradually made its way into the mainstream over the past few years, as modern technology created increasingly large data sets and industries like finance and healthcare began recognizing the potential value in this information—if  it is broken into digestible chunks and used to improve operations.

But if you’ve been operating under the assumption that big data is useful only for large enterprises, you may be missing out. In fact, solutions that convert unstructured information into business intelligence are available and valuable to companies of all sizes.

Big data has profound implications for any customer-facing business, particularly in customer service and marketing.  If you’re wondering just how exactly big data could positively impact your business, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered:

Know What the Customer Wants Ahead of Time

Gathering and organizing data is a major part of building effective predictable models, which predict future consumer behavior. These models can actually help businesses determine what products individual customers are likely to purchase. With that information, companies can create special offers that include predicted product and related items, opening the potential for a bigger sale.

Identify Customer Trends Quickly

Uncovering trends in the call center used to require a lot of guesswork, which wasn’t particularly effective or efficient. Today’s big data solutions, however, make it easier to identify the most common problems customers experience, as well as what offerings they most enjoy. Armed with this information, Communicators can loop other departments, like Product Development, Billing or Promotions, to help solve problems or build on successes.

Personalize the Customer Experience

Big data allows companies to personalize marketing and customer service to individual consumer needs in a way that was previously impossible. As a business collects more information it is better able to segment customers into groups with shared characteristics and plan accordingly. The more information the company collects, the easier it is to enhance his or her experience. Marketers can even create unique scripts for different populations based on what is most likely to succeed.

Initially big data can be an intimidating concept, but the tools to help make sense of these mountains of information are readily available. Businesses are increasingly relying on these solutions, meaning they will soon transition from cutting-edge to ‘must-have.’ Taking chances on new ideas is always a little scary for executives, but making better use of information you are already generating will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. Just imagine what your company’s data knows about your customers that you may not.

The question isn’t so much ‘if’ you should invest in business intelligence solutions—rather the question is, ‘when.’ At InfoCision, our advice is to do it as soon as possible.

Have any thoughts on the big data revolution? Share them in the comment section below!

Exciting Takeaways from Epic Experts

Just over a week ago, InfoCision sponsored and attended the InterAction 2014 marketing summit at The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing—and the highly anticipated event did not disappoint!

This year’s conference was particularly exciting, as it featured contributions from some of the leading voices in the marketing space. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), gave a keynote address, as did Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata, who was also presented with the prestigious Direct Marketer of the Year award.

These two Epic Experts provided a wealth of thought-provoking insights that we at InfoCision have been discussing since the conference ended. As difficult as it was, we’ve narrowed them down to a few of our favorites:

Do you document?

Only 39 percent of B2C organizations and 44 percent of B2B companies have a documented content marketing strategy: and that is a major problem. As Joe said during his keynote address—and as he has written on numerous occasions—a documented strategy is the best predictor of how effective a company’s content marketing will be. If you don’t have concrete goals and objectives, you can’t possibly create successful content because you can’t even define success.

What’s your data doing?

Lisa talked at length about how important it is for businesses to use big data to gain a better understanding of how their customers think and feel. Customers today expect relevant and timely interaction, something companies can’t provide without the tools to recognize trends and patterns in customer data. Most businesses are aware by now that they need to be collecting customer information; the next step for many of these companies is investing in solutions that help make sense of it all.

Consistency, not campaigning

Marketing efforts have long been referred to as “campaigns,” but Joe is urging marketers to think about content marketing more in terms of an ongoing conversation. Maintaining positive relationships and retaining customers requires content creation that lets customers know they are front-and-center in a company’s mind at all times. In other words, content marketing doesn’t have a concrete beginning, middle and end.

What are your thoughts about our takeaways from InterAction 2014? Let us know in the comments section!

How to leverage your Big Data to generate Big Results

How do you leverage Big Data?

That’s really the question, isn’t it?  The #BigData buzz word is floating around on Linked In, Twitter and in articles that marketing professionals see every day.  And with good reason.  Having a wealth of data allows us to personalize our marketing offers, creating a more effective pitch while also providing the customer with a better and more engaging experience.

That sounds great in theory… but how do you really do that?

It starts with business intelligence

But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Big data is a wonderful means to an end, but before we can begin to map out a strategy, we need to first determine a calling campaign’s key performance indicators (KPI’s). Your client will have a set of KPI’s they want you to meet like service levels, call volume, conversion rates, etc.  As their call center partner, you’ll have additional KPIs to consider.  Once the goal metrics are identified, the next step is finding out where the data resides that will help you manage the objectives.  Then you can integrate that information into your strategy.

Highly skilled IT professionals and analytical marketers working together as a business intelligence team can utilize all available data to build statistical models that show behavior and patterns, and determine which factors drive a particular type of customer. They can set up algorithms to compute this information, which is used to tailor information in call center scripts, emails, targeted web ads and direct mail pieces. All helping to increase productivity, customer satisfaction, conversions and ultimately ROI.

And it’s more than just messaging. In the call center we can use previous call history to determine the best time to contact customers, increasing our connect rates.  We can determine the channel(s) of communication individual consumers are most likely to respond to favorably.  We can evaluate buying and purchasing patterns that give us insight into what offers consumers may be more interested in so we can personalize their offer – even upselling and cross-selling further enhancing conversion rates.  We can also identify and remove customers with the highest propensity to churn,  further minimizing marketing costs. For example, on one customer retention campaign, we utilized much of what I just outlined above. Using multiple strategies we were able to drive down the client’s cost per customer saved from $127 to a minimal $14.65, while at the same time retaining an additional 138,400 customers.

Leveraging real-time Big Data in the call center

This is where it gets fun. Using intelligence and technology to determine service level differentiations to boost conversion rates, improve customer service, customize call center scripts and sales scripts — on the fly, will ultimately increase customer value and drive long-term growth.  Real time analytics can also be a cost saver by driving target routing strategies (matching the appropriate agent with the sales lead), intelligent queue (prioritizing higher converting leads for quicker answer times), etc.

In the call center, as information is collected during a call, the targeted, personal message that best fits the customer may need to change on the fly.  But with the right technology, the script can be adapted as the call is going on.

At InfoCision, we’ve developed a proprietary solution called Inscription that delivers a customized script seamlessly in real-time as well as comprehensive customer profiles and screen pops. This technology, which has been in use since 2004, automatically tailors the script as the call is coming in, and can allow for real-time changes based on information gathered during the call.  Inscription is constantly updated based on customer call results so it provides the most recent data possible. This allows our Communicators to focus on building relationships with customers utilizing the most effective personalized offer.  It’s all about relationship management and looking beyond single transaction customer contacts toward long term ROI realization.

For more information on inscription, check out the case study I mentioned.

If you have thoughts on this post or other ways to leverage Big Data, please comment below.

Data Security: Big Data is an Asset that Must be Protected by Marketers

Big data has become a huge asset for marketers who understand how to use it to craft the right messages for the right people at the right time. But are you taking the necessary steps to protect this asset?

Big data has become a huge asset for marketers who understand how to use it to craft the right messages for the right people at the right time.  But are you taking the necessary steps to protect this asset?

Consumers becoming more aware of how their personal information is being used

As the use of big data has increased in recent years, so have consumer concerns over how their information is collected, shared, used and stored.  In fact, Jane Frost, CEO of Britain’s Market Research Society (a group representing companies working in market, social and opinion research, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy) recently told Information Week that “58 percent of inquiries to the Market Research Society’s confidential advisory service were related to data collection, integrity and use in 2011/12 alone, up from 43 percent the previous year.”

That’s a 15 percent jump in just a year if you’re scoring at home, and it means that consumers are increasingly interested and wary regarding anything involving their personal information.  To protect the asset that is big data, this means ALL marketers must place data security as our highest priority.  Any information breach that occurs not only weakens your own brand and/or the brands of your clients – but it impacts the entire industry as it makes consumers more wary of giving out their information in general.  So it makes sense for us to all work together to ensure we are using best practices in protecting our consumer data.

Why is big data an asset worth protecting for contact centers?

Contact centers represent a vast resource of information and business insight that will allow you to effectively translate customer data into customer experience improvements. Using data to determine service level differentiations to boost conversion rates, improve customer service, customize call center scripts and sales scripts — in real time, will ultimately increase customer value and drive long-term growth.  That’s why big data is so important, because it gives us the opportunity to market so much more effectively and efficiently by boosting sales, driving down hang-ups, enhancing brand value and inspiring our customers to share their good experiences with others.

DMA provides data security resources

The Direct Marketing Association is an outstanding resource for information on data security.  In fact, the DMA just released its annual Statistical Fact Book 2013, and one of the findings was very encouraging on this very topic: Almost 85 percent of marketers will be taking additional steps to protect customer data and privacy in 2013.  In addition, the DMA blog in April posted an entry with tips on how to establish a good data governance program from Experian VP of Regulatory Compliance and Information Practices, Judy Macior.

Finally, marketers must not only be good stewards of consumer information, but we must also be up-front with consumers about our practices and security measures so they feel comfortable sharing their information with us into the future.  If you have any tips or thoughts to share on big data security, please post a comment below.