big data red button

There’s a lot of buzz around the term ‘Big Data’ right now. For the most part, B2B marketers know it’s something that should be on their radar, but it’s very easy to get stuck in the weeds.

So, what is Big Data? At the most basic level, it’s data analytics – the collection and analysis of sets of information. What turns it into BIG data is the amount of information, and the speed at which it can be created, captured and analyzed. The availability of information has increased dramatically in recent years with the proliferation of digital and social media channels, making this BIGNESS all the more apparent. Now marketers can collect posts, tweets, likes, click rates, comments, shares, downloads, website traffic, customer-uploaded images, email communications, mobile location information, and social media commentary about brands. It can very quickly get overwhelming. And, fortunately, there are many solution providers that can go into quite a bit depth about best practices for collection, hygiene, analysis and application of data.

As B2B branding and marketing strategists, what is most exciting about Big Data is the opportunity it gives us to be smarter: smarter about our key audiences, smarter about our campaigns, smarter about the results. We can leverage the behavioral insights gained from one channel to inform how we communicate with the same customers through other channels. We can combine information from all online and offline touchpoints to build a more complete profile of every customer. We can test different combinations of channels, content and frequency of communications to see what drives engagement, and ultimately performance, of marketing campaigns.

With all this information, B2B marketers can better target messaging across all channels, and deliver more relevant, more synchronized campaigns that truly resonate with audiences. Big Data, therefore, empowers us to do our jobs better. And this has never been more important. In today’s connected marketing environment, where the conversation never ends and every message can link across multiple platforms, B2B marketers need to provide consistent, relevant customer experiences, delivering messaging and content that is compelling and customized at all touchpoints. To do this, we need to understand which channels influence and persuade customers and how they behave and interact with our brands through these channels. We need data.

So, where to start? There are many schools of thought on this, but we suggest starting focused. Here is a good piece of advice from the experts at YesMail Interactive and Infogroup Targeting Solutions: “Start now with digital channels and existing data: Many digital channels have already matured and can be easily implemented to drive multichannel communication strategies. Marketers shouldn’t wait until the perfect solution is in place – or else they’ll wait forever. They should start now by building cross channel test plans and utilizing tools such as multi-variant email testing, which provide real-time automated optimization, and leveraging existing data to learn even more about their customers.” You can read their whole report on the Big Data revolution here.

Wherever you stand with Big Data, if you’re not telling the right story about your brand, it won’t matter which channel you communicate through or how frequently. Having a solid brand foundation is crucial, but to ensure synchronized success, you need to know why that brand is relevant to each of your key audiences. This is where message mapping can play an important role.


A message map includes a set of core messages appropriate for all of a firm’s audiences – think of these as the messages you might find on a firm’s homepage. Then individual messages are “mapped” to specific audiences, including clients, prospects, influencers, employees and recruits, media and communities. With a message map, you can easily develop communications tailored to each important audience without having to guess each time about what to say. This ensures messaging is consistent, customized and compelling, all the more critical in today’s hyper-connected digital marketing environment.