Merging New Data with Traditional Marketing Principles

No matter how much the world changes, at its core, marketing will always stay the same. When we distill what marketing means down to its most basic form, we understand it as the practice of matching products and consumers based on those consumers’ interests and needs. We even took a closer look at this when we discussed why customer-driven marketing is so important.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the world is indeed constantly changing, constantly evolving. The Digital Era has seen the proliferation of several buzzwords, including Big Data, which can often seem like an intimidating and vague concept. Put simply, though, big data generally refers to massive amounts of data we’re now able to easily collect and put into use.

This week, we’ll dive into an example of big data in action and look at how we can use layers of data to become better marketers.

Big Data in Action

Product managers put big data into use every day as they work on refining existing products or developing new ones. Mastercard, the financial tech giant based out of Purchase, New York, processes trillions upon trillions of transactions around the world every day, giving them a mindboggling amount of consumer spending data. This data is mostly processed at their operational headquarters and data warehouse outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

Mastercard Operational Headquarters, O’Fallon, Missouri

During my time at Mastercard, I worked on a product management team that oversaw all consumer credit card products in the Latin American region. While working on product redevelopment projects to redesign and launch refreshed products across the region, we would access the St. Louis data warehouse to begin mining for consumer trends that could inform us about what features we could add to the product to make them even more relevant to our target consumers.

Using data analysis techniques, like using pivot tables, we would search for patterns based on a number of different parameters. For example, when researching potential new features for the Mastercard Gold Card, a product targeted to middle class consumers, we could sort consumers by average spend and utilize a pivot table to identify the most common spend categories, such as dining, grocery stores, or entertainment. Diving further into the data, we could then identify the most common merchants among our target consumers in various categories. Using this data, we could begin to develop product concepts, such as a credit card with special cash back bonuses at popular grocery chains.

Layering Data Onto Data

Data, of course, has limitations in its ability to provide proper context for the patterns you may be able to identify. Truly sophisticated data-driven organizations have the ability to layer different kinds of data, or data from various locations, in order to add definition and depth. At the end of the day, our goal as marketers has always been to determine exactly what consumers want and need.

In the Mastercard example above, the next logical step would have been to layer on social media data from each individual market which could add context for the transactional data we were utilizing. By tapping into social trends, we could layer on information about how consumers feel about certain merchants or how different unserved consumer segments feel about our current products.

Next Steps

While the term Big Data might seem like an intimidating buzzword, the truth is that it’s just the natural evolution of the marketing discipline. The first step towards getting a grip on big data is to understand where and how your organization is collecting data. Then, you must understand how to access and manipulate that data in order to put it to use. Once you’ve accomplished these first two steps, you’re ready to begin tapping into big data to become an even more effective marketer.

Please do also check out some of our other articles that discuss the importance of marketing research and clean data, among other topics.

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