We hear the term ‘big data’ a lot, whether in the context of marketing or that of information. Big data is hard to harness, hard to follow and hard to glean any game-changing solutions from. Companies can’t even agree on what big data means; for some it is data storage, for others it refers to new technologies that harness and manage data, and to others yet it means analyzing massive amounts of data.
Limitations due to large data sets happen frequently, but in marketing they happen all the time. As the marketing process becomes more automated, companies that seem to have an advantage are typically seen as having the most up-to-date technologies to run, gather and test marketing campaigns.
Small businesses are missing out on these inferences gained from algorithms simply because they don’t have enough manpower. I’m here to tell you that small data is just as important as big data.
Have you ever gone to a website, especially an ecommerce website, where you felt like someone was watching you? That’s because they are. Companies are watching every mouse movement, every click and every download and purchase you make to get data points. Each of these data points drives how they put messaging in front of you because they know what you’re interested in, where you have been on the Web, what you like to eat and pretty much everything else about you.
For some this is probably a little scary, but to a marketer it’s exciting. Now, I’m a data-driven marketer who is constantly monitoring traffic flows, conversion rates and funnels, but sometimes I think that all this data muddies the waters. Can we really make an inference about site performance just by aggregating visitor data? I think making a great site that caters to visitors needs to go beyond analytics tools and testing.
Small businesses must focus on their personas and understand what their challenges are and what they like and don’t like. What better way to do this than by talking with them and gathering small data points to make your product and their experiences better. From small data we can gather inferences based on our own human judgments, rather than some quantified action or trigger.