Big Data in 2013

Entrepreneurs, start-up CEO’s and SEO gurus have been wishing, hoping, and waiting for the tide of Big Data to come in. With the dawn of 2013, their highest hopes are turning into reality. But have we got more information than we know what to do with? In some cases, we just can’t manage to convert all of that wonderful data into the ultimate marketing to-do list.

Big Data & Market Research

Assessing the success (or failure) of an online campaign isn’t a straightforward process anymore. One-size-fits-all marketing has become a thing of the past as the ability to target individuals has come to the fore. Or perhaps it is more pertinent to say that the consumers’ acceptance of one-size-fits-all marketing has diminished with the advent of ever-more personalised messaging.

You need to get your mind wrapped around Big Data as a concept if you want to capitalise on the individuality of the modern consumer; and breaking it down into two categories may be a good place to start.

There are really two kinds of information; unstructured and structured. Structured data is easily classifiable… the kind of data you could put into a database with columns and rows, allowing you to sort, filter and extrapolate information. With this structured data, we can use traditional tools to keep tabs on things and then work out how to change in order to improve our position in the marketplace. Nothing new there then.

Unstructured data is the one that we must figure out how to use to our advantage. This comprises all of the less ‘discrete’ information you can collect, such as all the reviews that customers post on the internet, social media profiles and conversations, or other interactions that include information about your business, service, or product, but don’t necessarily include someone from your business and doesn’t necessarily happen within your proprietary platforms.

When you think about it, that information is invaluable if it can be harnessed to target individual customers. But this unstructured data can be hard to get your hands on precisely because it isn’t happening on your own website and is not easy to classify or label. What’s more, it’s even harder to manipulate in any meaningful way.

Using that data to develop a large marketing campaign or product push that offers the kind of personalized service that will delight your customers is a tricky process; one that is still maturing.

Mobile Marketing – Making Progress

Modern mobile devices are linked to a wealth of customer information as well as having the capacity to store additional data about the user, either locally or in the cloud. As such, a huge amount of structured data is generated, allowing for the creation and segmentation of databases.

Of equal importance however is the fact that an average person using their mobile device will also engage in the kind of online conversations that create unstructured data; through social apps, through ‘session cookies’ and through location-based services (i.e. on review websites). So, the challenge for 2013 is collecting and using the unstructured data to embellish the structured data we already know so well.

There are already some great tools available to amalgamate the two (into what is often called ‘semi-structured data’). These tools will in fact likely be the spearhead of contemporary marketing in the future. They crunch the data together to help you profile the people who interact with your brand; including more specific demographic data and in-depth information on their browsing and purchasing habits.

All of this enables you to target market segments more efficiently and individuals more confidently. is the best one I’ve seen so far, with applications for almost every industry and type of website.

Nearly 90% of the data in the world was created in the last 2 years. That fact alone is hard to digest. 2013 has to be the year we figure out how to make Big Data work for us.

Posted by Paul

Paul is our Head of Marketing and digital strategy specialist. A Google certified SEO expert and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has worked on award-winning campaigns since 2003.

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