The contribution of big data in marketing will first translate into improved marketing tools and strategies. Personas are a thing of traditional marketing toolbox. These ‘robot portraits’ personify the customers and the kind of people a company is targeting and in this way, these help companies plan how they will meet their needs through their offerings. Traditionally, the personas were constructed from an empirical knowledge of customers and some amount of intuition as well. Big data will make these personas more real by providing not only the data derived from their purchasing behavior and their verified characteristics but more importantly, by providing a context to these behaviors.
Data and inbound marketing
This new data will then be used in inbound marketing campaigns. Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting sales leads or customers by providing them with useful information or services. As opposed to reaching them out directly, it is about being found out. By multiplying the potential contact points with sales leads (through corporate websites, e-shop, blog, social networks, downloadable white paper, etc), companies can gather information about the behaviors and expectations of their sales leads. They can then refine the content they publish and personalize their communication as much as possible. Identifying your sales leads sometimes requires using weak cues and connecting disparate information. For example, there exists a link between downloading a white paper, locating an IP address and publishing a blog post which suggests that the user is about to set up a new project which will be requiring a particular service and in this way, he or she becomes a potential ‘lead’. Only data management tools allow marketing departments to make such scoring quickly and efficiently.
Lead scoring and lead nurturing: Combining marketing and sales
Providing relevant analysis and new information to target groups is the basis of inbound marketing. By making the potential customer come spontaneously to the company, the marketing department gets an opportunity to ‘score’ the lead or in other words, to assign him a ‘maturity’ rating in terms of making a purchase. For this purpose, the department uses all explicit and implicit data emanating from potential customer’s online behaviors. The explicit data comes, for example, from a form that the lead fills on the website of the selling company. His score may vary according to his title, his role in the decision-making process, the size of his company, his career path (degree or diploma obtained), the budget at his disposal, etc. The implicit data comes from his online behaviors. For example, did he follow a webinar or go to a trade show or subscribe to the company’s newsletter and follow the company on social media? Collecting and monitoring all this data helps in lead scoring. When the lead appears ready to make purchase, the salesman takes over to complete the sale. The period of contact between the lead and the company prior to sale is not a waste of time. Actually, it allows the marketing department to practice ‘lead nurturing’ whereby they push more and more personalized content towards the lead in order to grab his attention and convince him of the company’s suitability and expertise.
These two phases of acquiring a lead requires constant exchanges between sales and marketing teams. Having said this, it is understandable why both the departments are open to collaborating and aligning themselves according to customers, while maintaining their respective roles.