I was recently scrolling through LinkedIn when this caught my eye:
I’ll save you the trouble of enlarging the screen to look at all those words. This is supposed to be an illustration of all the different channels and routes today’s Marketing leader needs to think about and plan as part of Marketing strategy. If I was going to be picky I’d say there’s a lot missing here but that’s not the point. The point I’d rather make is that Marketers have a lot of choices on how they’ll reach their audience and what experience they’ll design to engage that audience. To make those choices, we’ve turned to data—click stream data, website data, social metrics, intent data, behavioral data etc. Here’s the problem, all of that Big Data is only telling us what customers did, it’s not telling us the most important thing when making Marketing decisions—why do my customers do what they do.
According to a new study we sponsored by Harvard Business Review Analytical Services, Beyond Big Data: Why Small Data Integration is the Key to CXM Success, 98% of the respondents believe that understanding their customers is crucial to creating relevant customer experiences, yet less than a quarter believe that their organization understands why its customers act the way they do. What did emerge from the study is that there is a small percentage (15%) of CX Leaders that cite their CX strategies are successful and helping them achieve critical business goals—increased revenue, customer loyalty and successful product launches. What makes them different than the other 85%? Their data. These Leaders are able to successfully combine both big and small data to create a 360-degree picture of their customers.
Small data is that "human" data that comes from trackers and surveys, mobile diaries, online communities, and focus groups. The study also found Leaders are more likely to take advantage of a variety of new customer information sources such as mobile, clickstream, telemetry, mobile diaries, online communities, and focus groups to get deeper insights into how their customers think, feel and act.
One of my favorite quotes from the HBR study was from Martin Lindstrom, founder and chairman of Lindstrom Company and author of Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends, "The biggest problem with corporate data today is that everyone is so obsessed with getting big data solutions on board. But you have to get your hands dirty to see the world from the customer’s point of view. You have to put yourself in their shoes and feel what they feel. Then you have something valuable." He continued, “ Small data can illuminate the ‘micro-frictions’ in the customer journey that may be missed analyzing big data on its own and making assumptions.”
There’s no doubt that the shift in consumer behavior and our digital lives are causing more disruption in business than ever before. Pile on top of that the buzz of an impending recession, and it’s no wonder that as Marketers we are trying to lead our brands on a mission to transform our businesses to meet the demands of the digital marketplace, direct-to-consumer preferences and the expectations of easy, relevant customer experiences. But the reality, though, is most brands are seeing little to no benefit from these efforts. It’s time to follow the Leaders that have found the most effective way to understand their customers is through the integration of big and small data and adapt our data strategies, do the hard work to truly understand our customers or watch our businesses fail.