Data is everywhere these days. As consumers continually shift towards browsing and buying their goods online, so too does the focus of marketers and researchers. Two of the biggest buzz terms when it comes to the subject are rich data and big data.

So what exactly do these terms actually mean? Are they significantly different or are they basically referring to the same thing? And finally, how exactly you can use this information to improve your marketing efforts? Weve taken the time to cover all this and more, if youll just keep reading below.

In its simplest form, rich data is used to predict consumer behaviour. Its the process of compiling data to determine when and where a person is most likely to buy something, as opposed to relying on trend forecasts and gut-feelings.

Its a form of business intelligence that helps businesses answer specific questions about their markets, simply by linking the data available from various departments.

For example, previously a business may have simply delegated data gathering and analysis to the marketing team, to determine how many sales they made in a month and how those leads were generated. Rich data utilises additional departments within a company, such as finance, IT, human resources and customer service.

This helps to create a broader picture, including whether there were any IT issues involved as to why sales werent made online, how and when people paid for their purchases to finance, or even whether a new training module was implemented that resulted in more sales at the branch.

So instead of merely compiling data based on sales alone, rich data allows a business to see all the factors that influence the sales made, both internally and externally.

In comparison to rich data, it could be said that big data is much more about predicting trends. As the name suggests, big data is much more about collecting vast amounts of information to predict the movements of an entire market segment.

When we talk about utilising big data in a marketing sense, its most commonly used to help businesses create market personas and profiles of their desired audience. These personas make very general statements about a certain type of person, allowing the business to plan a more targeted and effective marketing strategy.

Furthermore, big data doesnt necessarily refer to online marketing trends. Big data can be gathered from all mediums, helping to identify how consumers prefer to receive their information and therefore generating the best return on investment for the business.

We know this sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but if youre serious about improving your marketing efforts then you should really be utilising raw dataandbig data to cover all your bases.

In a business sense, raw data can be used to stream-line your processes and efficiently manage your costs and resources. Raw data allows you to evaluate the dollar value of things like implementing a new technology within the business or just how successful individual marketing campaigns really are.

Big data should be viewed more as the initial research conducted before implementing a marketing campaign. Instead of simply sending out blanket emails to every customer in your database, big data allows you to identify different segments within your database, and determine how and when they will be most responsive.

If youre just getting your head around the concept of utilising data to grow your business, then theres no time like the present. Thankfully there are so many analytical tools available (many for free) that businesses of all sizes can use.

This may seem obvious, but the best source of data these days is through Google. The worlds favourite search engine provides all the tools a business could possibly need to review their existing assets and analyse traffic including what search terms people are using to find your website, when and where they are, what device they are using and how long they spent interacting with your brand.

One of the most common mistakes made by businesses these days is the temptation to gather way too much data to the point they have no real idea of how to piece it all together. The fact that there are so many data gathering tools and applications readily available to businesses these days, finding the data is not actually the problem.

The important thing when it comes to raw data and big data, is knowing what information is valuable and what should be ignored. Also, especially in the case of raw data, its about linking the different pieces of information together to create something useful knowing when one thing has direct influence on another, and taking note.

To this point, we suggest taking the data mining process slowly. Start by creating a Google Analytics account and exploring what information is available there. Take note of one or two specific items and keep tabs on the changes over time. When you think youve found a pattern, investigate further and link to other areas of the business.

Just thinking about all the data available can seem quite daunting at times, especially if you want to manage it in-house. And unless you know where to start looking and what to look for, the process itself can be very time consuming for very little results. Thats why we encourage you to give us a call.

Were always happy to sit down for a friendly chat, helping us to understand your business and what it is you want to achieve from there we provide some helpful insights and tips to improve your reach and boost sales online.

With a successful career in web development and digital marketing under his belt, Chris has been a driving force behind major projects for brands including Telstra, Heart Foundation, Laurastar and Noodle Box, Melbourne Mint and more.

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