Everyone has heard the term Big Data. If you haven’t, then I would assume you just came back from an extended island vacation, a really, really long one at that! But then because you are interested in marketing automation you just might have and are ready to get the business reved up!
Data is the New Currency
Seriously, though, data is very quickly becoming the new currency and the internet retailers that are able to grasp and use data will take their businesses to the next level. I have been arguing for the past five years that companies need a Chief Data Officer. Why, because in the new age of the data economy, we trade on the quality of our data. Data is the currency that will make and break organizations big and small. Bad data has enormous consequences on customer service, customer retention and business profitability. If, for example, you are manually entering orders into your fulfillment house’s web portal or manually creating a spreadsheet of that data to be uploaded, odds are you will not only make mistakes but you will also be losing money. How you ask? Well the full cycle of a manual web order in a nonintegrated environment costs a company on average $56. That cycle is order in, invoice out and shipment notice out to the customer. I am not making this up you can check out the facts. So along with the data quality, integration is quickly becoming a must have not a nice to have for successful internet retailers.
But before we explore the data mining aspect of things and how it relates to marketing automation let’s look at some history.
The Data Explosion a Historical Perspective
We are undergoing an explosion of data not seen before in the history of mankind. It is sobering to know that in the past 5 years we have generated 90% of the world’s data. There is a veritable revolution underway the likes of which has not been seen since the Agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. During that revolution, grains and animals were domesticated which allowed people to become sedentary and build cities. Cities allowed for the accumulation of wealth and an explosion of knowledge and ideas. Wealth allowed formalized writing to develop and that lead to structures that endure today. Our capitalist system had its roots in this revolution. The data economy has some interesting parallels. Old ways of doing business are being replaced with mechanisms that ten years ago didn’t exist – think mobile. The explosion in the data we are generating is in the process of changing the way businesses function, interact and derive revenue. Vast data warehouses are being created and their contents mined for patterns as well as the creation of new revenue sources. Amazon and Google have been in the vanguard of this revolution.
So what can a more modest internet retailer, but one with the ambitions to be Amazon, do to gain that competitive advantage? Well the first thing is to understand that the data you have is valuable, very valuable. The second thing is to develop a data usage strategy. What do I mean?
Do you have a Data Strategy ?
Your data usage strategy is essentially how you want to use the data you are collecting in your web store. Your web store needs to be connected to an accounting system; the data also needs to flow to a 3pl or fulfillment house if you out source your pick, pack and ship. However, to really take your business to the next level you need to also think about moving data to your marketing automation platform and your BI platform. Hubspot and Infusionsoft shine on the marketing automation front but like anything else bad data in, well you know the rest.
Integration is Key
This is where solid integration and some thought on how you want to use data in Hubspot or Infusionsoft becomes the fastest way to mine your B2C data. If you have to manually enter data into Hubspot or Infusionsoft to create and trigger your campaigns you will make mistakes. It may be that by the time you realize you have made mistakes that customer relationship has been damaged or completely lost because of the time delay. Integration has allowed Listen to Your Gut.com a web based retailer and an Infusionsoft customer to take their marketing to the next level. The stats speak for themselves it’s far harder to gain a new customer than it is to nurture and mine an existing one. But without a data strategy you can’t even start the mining operation. So in this new economy think about your data. Love your data and you’ll look at your business from a whole new perspective.
In my next blog article, I will explore using your web store data with a BI platform. Another way to love your data.