Cover Story: Are You Ready for Big Data?
"We are very excited about this work because we can quantify the impact of different social TV strategies the networks are using on viewer engagement and sentiment in real time," Hill says.
Data also needs to be consistently collected, says Geoff Wolf, executive vice president of client strategy at the direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Associates in Mission, Kan.
For example, Wolf describes two customer service representatives who ask "How did you hear of us?" A customer answers, "I saw your ad in a magazine, but don't remember which one." The first representative puts down "unknown." The second picks a random magazine code to show it was a magazine.
"Now there's inconsistency with the data," says Wolf, "even though both sources were actually 'known.'"
Another aspect of the noise-to-signal ratio Suther points out is that companies need to find the most valuable customers in the data and allocate marketing dollars accordingly.
3. What can you learn about customers from Big Data?
Answer: a. Which customers and prospects offer the best marketing ROI
"For some organizations," explains Wolf, "a top customer can be worth 5, 10 or 15 times as much as the average customer."
Slavi Samardzija, executive vice president of marketing intelligence at the Richardson, Texas-based marketing solutions provider KBM Group, says marketers can spot these top customers by identifying "champions," customers actively engaged with the brand online.
Fairytale Brownies' champions are medical and law practices, firms that rely heavily on referral business and hence try to sweeten their relationships with gifts. David Kravetz, cofounder and catalog- and Web-team leader of the Phoenix-based online and catalog food gift-giving firm, says the IT staff zeroed in on the company's champions by mining the firm's database for top customers, cross-referencing against standard industrial classification (SIC) codes to determine the type of firm. As a result, Fairytale Brownies now targets doctors and lawyers because they are such a lucrative niche.