Many businesses take a curious approach to using big data in terms of marketing. They start by outlining their marketing objectives and then mine the data for information relevant to those objectives. While businesses do glean important insights in this way, it’s also an excellent way to leave a lot of money on the table.

Start with Business Objectives

Business objectives and marketing objectives don’t always align well. A common business objective is to increase revenue by capturing market share. The marketer might read this objective as a call to capture more market share in your tradition demographic, psychographic or region. A careful examination of your data can reveal a smaller, but substantive, market segment that buys your product or service. Making it a marketing objective to capture more of that market segment serves the business objective. A direct mail marketing campaign aimed at that smaller market segment, for example, can show a significant return on investment for higher-cost products and services.

Look at the Business KPIs

Much of marketing focuses on customer acquisition and acquisition rates, but that is just one of several key performance indicators that can help you outline marketing objectives. Businesses often cite customer retention and churn reduction as marketing objectives, but do very little to actually achieve retention and churn reduction. If your data indicates high levels of churn, overall or within a particular customer sub-group, it probably signals a problem in customer relationship management that needs to be addressed. It also signals a potential objective for marketing. If you’re seeing churn across your entire customer base, regardless of demographic and psychographic features, a multi-channel marketing effort can prove an effective tool for drawing those customers back.

Examine Communication Channels ROI

Quantifying the return on investment of marketing activities is notoriously difficult, but is not impossible. If your business collects data on how its customers heard about you, and it’s a best practice all businesses should employ, it can tell you a lot about which communication channels bring in paying customers. You can correlate what customers report about how they heard of you with incoming traffic to physical or online storefronts. If you find that most customers report hearing about you and also come in from online sources, such as your website, blog or social media profiles, it can mean it’s time to prioritize digital marketing efforts over more costly print and TV/radio marketing.

Big data can seem overwhelming. By analyzing the data for specific information, such as sources of incoming customers and KPIs, you can separate out information that informs and shapes your marketing objectives to better meet the needs of your customers and drive revenue growth.