3 Ways Little Data Trumps Big Data for Delivering a Superior User Experience

Author Zara Burke

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 being taken on board by marketers within businesses of all sizes, it essentially means data that provides an insight into what a wide portion of your audience are doing or what they want.

And in theory, it’s great. Who wouldn’t want to know that 95% of their audience visit their website via Twitter 10 minutes after a tweet has been made at 2pm? Or that only 25% read more than five pages of content when visiting on a mobile device?

It’s data like this 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 should be able to reduce business risk when it comes to various aspects, such as new product considerations.

But as great as big data is – and as much as I use it regularly – I genuinely believe times are changing. Big data will most likely always have a place in a business’s toolkit, but it has to be understood that with today’s customers expecting a better user experience than ever before, it’s big data’s counterpart – let’s call it little data – that is the key.

And there are three clear reasons why:

1. Your Audience Wants a Truly Customised Experience

3 ways little data trumps big data

There was once a time, not too long ago, when an e-mail from a company that started “Hi”, followed by your first name, was the epitome of customization. It looked great, felt like the brand was specifically talking to you and appeared that they’d taken the time to personalize the e-mail.

Whilst there’s no doubt this is still great, it has also become the norm. It’s 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 because we don’t just want part of our experience with a company to be slightly customized – we want as much of it as possible to be as truly customized as it can be.

For example, a recent US survey by Accenture found that 60% of respondents wanted a retail experience that provided real-time promotions and offers. That’s almost two thirds of retailers clearly asking for customization.

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 as an example. They used a weather-based personalisation approach, where the products shown on the homepage depended on the weather in the visitor’s location. Understanding the impact 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, and those updates are presented to us when we login – and it’s 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 a true, first-class 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 a possibility.

Of course, you do need to have the systems in place to be able to track such behavior (and yes, they do exist – I know from experience that CRMs such as Kentico and Sitecore both have said ability). But with that said, if you know you’ll be able to deliver an improved 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.

2. Looking at The Bigger Picture WILL Mean You Ignore Customers

3 Ways little data trumps big data - looking at the bigger picture

Source: Tim Abbott

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 alienate them, just because they don’t fall inline 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 truly deliver to each and every customer’s requirements. You don’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”, 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 – you now need to prove that your company is the one they should spend their money with.

The good news is, the greater you invest in that personalised experience with your customers – and that’s every single one of them, not just the majority – the greater the level of success 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 impact on their loyalty levels, they all come about from knowing exactly what it is your customers want and expect.

3. Brand Loyalty Comes Via Quality Delivered in All Areas

3 ways little data trumps big data - Brand Loyalty

Source: Rob DiCaterino

Every organisation wants their customers to return to them time and time again. They want them to become completely loyal; an 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. Those companies 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 of an importance when you consider the ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ (‘ZMOT’), something Google have been a driving force behind discussions around. In essence, it’s a term for that 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 often know which brands provide the searched for products or services, 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.

And all of this is something that, if we’re looking at doing on a genuinely beneficial level, is only truly achievable by understanding individual customer’s needs, wants and expectations.

We’ve always been passionate about the user experience at Leighton, and focusing on the smaller pieces of data from a client’s audience has allowed us to deliver truly engaging projects that provide a genuine, positive ROI.

There’s very 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 it, you’re unlikely to be able to truly understand your entire audience – and as a result, can’t deliver the first-class experience your customers really do want.

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Zara Burke