Three Steps To…Using Big Data to Boost the Bottom Line
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You’ve probably heard a lot of about “Big Data” but many business owners still aren’t sure how to put big data to work. Jesse Noyes, managing editor at Eloqua, a marketing automation software and consulting firm, offer you advice on three steps to using Big Data to Boost the Bottom Line.

Focus on the tactical first - Ultimately, your goal should be to provide the organization a top-down view into your department’s activities, wins and losses. But until you understand what benchmarks can inform all the little things you need to do to reach that big, all important quarterly target, focus first on the tactical.

When we designed our guide,  “40 Must-See Charts for Modern Marketers,” we didn’t just focus on the birds-eye view, but also the little practices that make marketers successful. For instance, we looked at how effective personalization was on getting prospects and customers to open emails.

This isn’t the kind of data you want to share with your executive team, but it tells you what’s needed to get to those big numbers the CEO should see.

 Strive for clarity – Are all your data points spread out across a multitude spreadsheets? When you hand over your dashboard is it immediately clear what’s working and what isn’t?

Numbers may not lie, but that doesn’t mean they’re clear or helpful. If you hand your team or your boss a document with all sort of figures and no analysis, don’t be surprised if their eyes glaze over.

We’re visual people. Make the data clear. What people want to know is what the data means, and your analysis and representation should make the answer obvious. You don’t have to be the Picasso of charts, but a little color never hurt.

Benchmark against competitors and yourself – This is the part when you want the high-level overview. Your executives don’t have time to parse over every detail. Ask yourself, “What’s the story here?”

The only way to get that overall story is to benchmark yourself against the competition…and your own results. Look at what results you’re competitors are seeing. Often, you won’t be able to get as detailed data as your own results. That’s okay. Think big picture. For instance, where do you rank in search results versus the store down the street?

And include your own story. Are your results improving or declining? These should be the real results. For instance, it’s important to measure how many unique visitors your website gets, but the CEO wants to know how many of those visitors get into the sales and marketing pipeline. You need to benchmark that data quarter by quarter.

Big Data can represent the big competitive advantage. But only if you know what do with it. Always aim for practicality, clarity and relevance.

Jesse Noyes is Managing Editor at Eloqua, where he develops content marketing initiatives to entertain, engage and educate. He started out in the journalism world as a business reporter for the Boston Herald and the Boston Business Journal before moving to marketing. He applies his editorial and storytelling experience to marketing, creating content that challenges assumptions, spotlights new trends and builds a community of readers, influencers and advocates. You find him on Twitter at @noyesjesse.