Posted to Katie Thomas's blog on August 16th, 2013

3 Types of Big Data for Driving Marketing Strategy

It is commonly stated, and as my coworker Chris has brought up before, that 90% of the world's data has been created in the past two years. With digital content and data being created at such a rapid rate, savvy marketers will use this big data as a way to gain insights into a wealth of things. But what should marketers really be focusing on?

There are many tools and dozens of different tactics to harvest big data, but perhaps more important is that data can drive digital marketing strategy in key aspects such as: reaching audiences, personalizing web experiences and creating useful and relevant content. Here are three types of big data that drive marketing strategy:

1. Social media feeds

Social networks host a wealth of information about consumers, followers, thought leaders and competitors. Narrow this treasure trove of data by focusing on smaller metrics to discern the best ways to reach and engage audiences.

  • Look at click rates to discern which content is hitting, or missing the mark. Find patterns in popular topics that could merit further exploration and content creation.

  • With Google+ Communities see what other marketers, industry experts or even consumers are talking about and find questions that need answering (and then provide those answers!).

  • Or, use tools such as Moz’s Followerwonk to find out what times of day social followers on Twitter are most active. With this information, target the best times to post and share content.

Using these tactics, along with others, can help marketers to determine the best practices and methods for reaching a targeted audience on a broad scale.

2. Website data

Google Analytics is an obvious tool for collecting big data for a website: traffic, top landing pages, referral sites, conversion rates, etc. Marketing automation tools, such as Automatr, offer new ways to better leverage this data to yield big results.

Perhaps the most exciting of marketing automation functions is dynamic content, which allows a website to tailor its content to a specific user. The process is much more complex, but essentially data taken from an automation platform about the visitor (see this blog for information on how this works) can affect the way a certain landing page appears to one user as opposed to how it appears to another. This has large implications for targeted content creation that could yield more conversions and leads.

3. Search trends

User intent should be key to any content marketing strategy. Why write about a topic that no one is looking to read about? Finding out what users are searching for and wanting to know the answers to can drum up new content ideas. 

Try Google Trends to see what is happening in the world of search. Narrow the results by categories such as Entertainment, Business and Politics or Nature and Science. From here, look through the trends for writing inspiration.

Similar results can be found through website data in Google Analytics as well. Looking through your traffic sources with the primary dimension set to keyword can reveal queries that are bringing in website traffic. Make sure there is a landing page or blog post or resource answering those questions, and if there is not, considering creating content to answer those questions and keep those visitors coming back for more.

This is only touching the surface of how that big data marketing can be leveraged in a meaningful way. Regardless, it is worth the effort to sift through the data and focus in for real, strategic results that, if kept track of over time, can give a broad view for where marketing strategy should head.