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Big Data dominates Online Marketing Summit

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Marketers increasingly have access to massive amounts of data. Taking advantage of that information is another matter. The challenge of tapping Big Data was a common theme at last week's Online Marketing Summit in San Diego. “Many companies, especially in the SaaS space, are sitting on gold mines of data,” said Heidi Melin, CMO of Eloqua, in a keynote discussion. Many of those companies, though, are not leveraging that data, she said. What's needed is a better understanding of customers' and prospects' “digital body language,” Melin said. “As they move through the sales cycle, this digital body language becomes more robust,” she said. It's crucial, she added, that the insights gained through the analysis of this information is shared throughout the organization. Melin said that while the data explosion has put a premium on analytics capabilities in marketing, it's important to remember the creative element. “A good idea is really powerful and remains powerful,” she said. “That balance between art and science is truly that, a balance.” Pam Didner, global integrated marketing manager at Intel Corp., echoed Melin's comments in a later session on generating leads through Big Data. “Gathering the data is a science. Interpreting the data is an art,” Didner said. There are three major steps in effectively using Big Data, Didner said. First, marketers must define the problem they want to address. Next, they must “separate the signal from the noise.” Finally, they must continually test their insights. “To me, there is good Big Data, which is insight, and bad Big Data, which is noise,” Didner said. Cheemin Bo-Linn, president and interim CMO at Peritus Partners and a co-presenter with Didner, noted that three key measurements of data are variety, velocity and volume. “Against all three of these metrics, Big Data shoots up the scale,” she said. Bo-Linn said the rise of social data has pushed Big Data to the forefront, with Facebook alone generating 10 terabytes of data a day. Through new technologies, marketers are able to delve into this wealth of information to assess customer behavior, study the dynamics of campaigns, analyze churn and loyalty and make actionable decisions. “It gives us X-ray vision. It lets us go scuba-diving in a world we're not familiar with,” Bo-Linn said. Among those companies making good use of Big Data, she said, is Intuit, which has launched an initiative called “Big Data for the Little Guy.” “They're helping their customers understand their customers better,” she said. The three-day Online Marketing Summit, produced by UBM, attracted more than 800 attendees.
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