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How can email marketers use Big Data?

Marketers have seen the number of channels used to access customers—email, CRM, social, mobile, etc.—grow. Each of these channels typically siloes its data. The challenge then for email marketers is harnessing the data within all the various channels while still reaching a given customer or segment of customers—and at the same time more effectively converting sales and building customer loyalty. No small feat; so how do email marketers do it? Integrate CRM data. Today, companies have tools at their disposal to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) data with customer behavior from websites and preference data from emails. Not enough marketers are incorporating insights from the data within a consumer's social graph or leveraging third-party data sources such as Rapleaf or Demandbase. A fully informed view happens when marketers are integrating point-of-sale data, customer call-center data and other information to create a more comprehensive, holistic data set. Align to a customer segment. It is not uncommon to hear of marketing managers aligned around customer segments rather than such specific channels as email marketing or social marketing. While there will always be domain experts when it comes to the use of sophisticated automation tools like those seen in many email and cross-channel marketing solutions, the analysis—and even organizations—is changing to look less at a specific channel and more at a particular customer segment or type. Integrate siloed data. To effectively harness the power of Big Data, marketers need a way to integrate previously siloed data with little difficulty. However, many solutions providers, including legacy email service providers, are architecturally incapable of such cross-channel data integration as they require marketers to upload the data onto their platforms, which can take days or weeks. What marketers need instead is a "go to it" model that brings the technology to the data rather than the other way around. Analyze the data. The larger the data sets, the more difficult they are to analyze; this is when tactics such as statistical modeling and predictive analytics come into play. Traditionally you had to hire data scientists to find trends and clusters of meaning, but recent developments in Big Data analytics software will be presenting marketers with cost-effective automated products and services by the end of 2013. David Atlas is senior VP-marketing at StrongMail, a provider of online marketing solutions for email and social media.
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