Aug 10, 2020
Over the past couple of years, there’s one phrase that’s been discussed time and time again – big data.
From its beginnings in the technology sector to its mass adoption by marketers within businesses of all sizes, it essentially means data that provides an insight into what a wide portion of your audience is doing, or what they want. Data, if used well, is a powerful asset, indeed.
And in theory, it’s great. Who wouldn’t want to know when their social media content is likely to receive the most engagement or how users interact with their website?
It’s real data that can help you plan a whole array of strategies. Your customers’ voice is truly valuable to you as an organisation and as long as you listen to it, you will gain the power to reduce business risk when it comes to various aspects, such as new product considerations.
But as great as big data, is times (and expectations) are changing. Big data will most likely always have a place in a business’s toolkit, but as today’s customers expect a better user experience than ever before, it is big data’s counterpart – let’s call it little data – that is the key.
And there are three clear reasons why this is the case:
There was once a time, not too long ago, when an e-mail from a company that started with “Hi”, followed by your first name, was the epitome of customization. It looked great, felt like the brand was specifically talking to you, and demonstrated some commitment to personalizing the e-mail.
While there’s no doubt this approach is still great, it has also become the norm. Nowadays, addressing a customer by their name is something that’s expected and if it doesn’t happen, we develop a poor impression of the brand.
The reason this is the case is that we don’t just want part of our experience with a company to be only partly customized – we want as it to be truly personal to ourselves as consumers.
Studies suggest that 79% of consumers are only likely to engage with a brand's offer if it is personalized to reflect their previous behaviors and interactions. Plus, 80% of shoppers are more inclined to buy from a business that offers personalized experiences. We know that the likes of e-commerce giant Amazon have been doing this well for some time (you land on their homepage and are presented with products you’re likely to want to buy), but that approach is now just the tip of the iceberg.
Take Burton, for example. The brand used a weather-based personalisation approach, where the products shown on the homepage depended on the weather at the visitor’s location. Understanding the impact that outside factors can have, Burton provided exactly what many casual shoppers want – suitable and genuinely useful inspiration.
What’s more, this happens naturally on social media – we follow the people we want to see updates from on Twitter or Instagram, and those updates are presented to us when we log in. And this is the way search engines now work, with results returned based not just on the specific keywords used, but more on the searcher’s intent than ever before.
This personalized approach has become ingrained in our expectations as customers. It’s not just something we’d like to see, but something we need to see if we’re to have an authentic experience with a brand.
And, by looking at the little data from your audience – the single user journey and the way they individually interact with you, for example – there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be possible.
Of course, you do need to have the systems in place to be able to track such behavior (and yes, they do exist – CRMs such as Kentico and Sitecore can both do this). But that said, if you know you’ll be able to deliver a better experience to your audience (which, in turn, should increase conversions), the decision on whether to invest or not shouldn’t be a difficult one to make.
When you’re looking at big data, you’re looking at the audience in general. As such, you’re likely to base decisions on what the majority are doing.
Do 70% of your conversions come from those visitors who’ve been referred via an off-site blog post? Fantastic – let’s ramp up activity on that channel, right?
Well yes, definitely do that – but what about the other 30% of your conversions? Are you going to ignore and/or alienate them, just because they don’t fall in line with the majority of your audience?
Although it is beneficial to look at the bigger picture, when you have access to little data, you have the opportunity to deliver, based on every customer’s requirements. By leveraging little data, you won’t have to guess what some people want or potentially create an experience that’s only tailored to a certain segment.
If you’re reading this and thinking “it sounds like a lot of work, as I’m going to be creating multiple experiences”, well, the reality is that’s exactly the case. Customer requirements have developed massively over the last few years and that ‘golden age’ of simply offering a website and having consumers convert is gone – now you need to prove that your company is the one they should trust, try, and then spend money on.
The good news is, the more you invest in that personalized experience with your customers –every single one of them, not just the majority – the more successful you will be.
From providing specific upsell opportunities that are relevant to the customer’s existing purchases through to continually engaging with customers after their purchase to influence loyalty levels, every positive initiative comes from knowing exactly what it is your customers want and expect.
Every organization wants its customers to return to them time and time again. Brands want their customers to become completely loyal, and advocate for the brand in all respects.
But how can you expect this to happen if you’re not meeting their expectations and delivering a quality experience at all times?
As consumers, most of us are happy to favour certain brands. We’ll go to a certain supermarket when we need food or a specific bank when we’re looking to open a savings account. Certain brands will have stuck in our mind and we want to spend our money with them, which is almost always because they’ve provided quality previously.
In today’s world, that investment in quality needs to be seen across all areas of the business and the experience you’re offering to your audience. Customers need to feel completely and utterly valued at all times, and as if the company is reaching out to them directly.
This is even more vital when you consider the ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ (‘ZMOT’), a study that is as timeless as it is effective. In essence, it’s a Google term for the process where you go from hearing about a product to searching for it and ultimately being at a stage where you’re ready to buy without any real external interaction (as opposed to the traditional buying process where the company often has to reach out, engage and convince the consumer to buy).
With this process, consumers don’t always know which brands provide the products or services they were looking for, meaning there’s a clear necessity to be delivering a first-class experience at all times. You need to make a great impression on each and every one of your customers, so if they do visit you as part of the ZMOT process, they already know you can deliver in terms of the overall experience.
All in all, this is something that is only really achievable, and of benefit, by our understanding individual customer’s needs, wants, and expectations.
There’s little doubt big data can be valuable and focusing on little data doesn’t mean you have to ignore the bigger picture. What it does mean, however, is that if you only focus on big data, you’re unlikely to be able to understand your entire audience on a deeper, more meaningful level – and as a result, you’re unlikely to truly deliver the authentic, quality experience your customers really do want.