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Big Data.

It can be an intimidating phrase, especially when it refers to an avalanche of information that you need to work through to make sure your marketing efforts are reaching the right people.

So how can you use big data to your advantage and maximise your return on investment? James sits down with our Head of Marketing Kale Duncan to chat about ways we can sift through the data and focus on what really matters.



JAMES: Kale, thank you so much for joining me on this freezing, windy, cold Melbourne day!

KALE: Happy to to be here.

JAMES: So I thought it’d be really cool for us to sit down and have a chat, maybe cover a couple of interesting topics.

We were actually having a conversation the other day, and we did an article, I’m sure you remember, about multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing, and I thought it’d be really cool just to kick off with that and really see what your thoughts are.

So obviously being head of the department you cover all aspects of marketing, whether that be social, digital, search, display, video…you’ve got a wide plethora of knowledge, so you’d be the ideal person to share your thoughts about marketing in today’s age.

Maybe kick off with what marketing is like in today’s age? What’s important?

KALE: THE most important thing that differentiates today’s marketing from five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago is the advent of big data. And that’s really not going to go anywhere. Tomorrow’s marketing is going to be even more data-driven than yesterday’s, and knowing that and working with that is the key to 2019 marketing effectively.

JAMES: One of the things I think is daunting for a lot of business owners, marketing managers, campaign managers, is this word ‘big data’. In its own right it’s a scary word: BIG DATA. How do we actually drill down and get some value from it?

I suppose the question to you is really, what does big data mean? What is the essence of what we’re achieving; what we’re trying to ‘get out’ of data as a marketing result?

KALE: Well, really big data’s just an extension of what we’ve been trying to do the whole time, with any marketing, ever since television, ever since the wireless; we’re always trying to effectively mass communicate.

All that data is, is an inevitable expansion of the feedback of that communication. How effective is it? Who is it going to? Who are these people and what are they doing outside of that? Are they turning into goals that we want from a marketing campaign?

If we can try to cut down the noise and focus on just that, you’ll see that big data is just feedback on how these communication channels are working, or *could* be working. It’s fun for someone like me who likes diving into the numbers, likes the spreadsheets, but it’s all the same stuff that we’re seeing before.

It’s focus groups, it’s surveys. All this stuff is data on the effectiveness of communication, and everything has to get filtered through that. Any sort of marketing, especially in a digital campaign, is going to be data-driven because there are so many data points. So many inputs, so many outputs, and one of the real challenges is not so much getting it; it’s knowing what to ignore, and what not to ignore. Cutting through that noise to find the real signal of what’s most effective.

JAMES: And that leads us into the next type of information, which is ‘foresight’, making predictions about the future. So how do we as marketeers, or as business owners or campaign managers…how do we understand what to cut out and what to look at when it comes to big data?

KALE: I think you hit upon a couple of great points. One is reverse-engineering to a certain degree. You need to work out, find out, to determine, to choose what you’re trying to do, and the data is information that either helps you in that pursuit of knowledge around what you’re trying to do…or it doesn’t.

And once you have an idea of what you’re trying to look for, I’m trying to find out how many people are made aware of my brand. I’m trying to find out who the people are that are interacting. I’m trying to find out this and that.

If you know what you’re looking for- and related to that, if you know the action points to take regarding that- then it becomes a lot easier to sort of figure out the value of that information, because information isn’t valuable unless it’s actionable. If we can’t do anything with the information that’s coming at us, all we are is hoarding knowledge for the sake of hoarding knowledge.

JAMES: So how does someone go around and go about measuring true success? What does that look like? How do we connect the easily-accessible information that we’re given through Facebook insights and Google analytics to true success and measurable outcomes, like a purchase or a phone call or a booking. How do we connect those two things?

KALE: As you hit upon, at the end of the day, this is a business investment and the ultimate goal- as much as we like to dress it up, talk around it- at the end of the day, it’s all about a return on investment. Everything that we do in a marketing space has to be pulled back to that, has to be related to that, even the things that you don’t think, like the Facebook post that receives the engagement, or like, or just the post that receives impressions; a number of people viewing it.

If we can’t find a way to relate this back to a return as a business, then it’s hard to justify, it’s hard to see successes. And this is really where big data comes in, and data in general comes in. As you said, that connection is the most important thing.

Brand awareness is great…only if it turns into someone going to your store when they wouldn’t otherwise. Only if it turns into someone picking up the phone when they otherwise wouldn’t. Only if it turns into someone visiting your site two days later, which then turns into more impressions on ads, which then turns into eventually a form submission.

All this stuff has to be brought back to return on investment at the end of the day, and it’s not fun, it’s not sexy, but…well it is for ME, because I like data and I like spreadsheets…but not to most people, and not to advertising agencies. They don’t think that’s fun. But it’s what’s most effective.

Basically, THE most important thing that you can do as a marketer is integrating your inputs and your outputs.



Want to know how to sift through the mountain of Big Data and get the most out of your marketing? Contact Smith Brothers Media for a business discovery session today!

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