As published on www.dataversity.net on July 25, 2016
If data is a form of language – if all those ones and zeroes constitute a way of communication, then translating those figures into something intelligible for a mass audience should be the end-result of this phenomenon we call Big Data. It should be the culmination – no, the conversion – of a series of commands into a chance for discussion among the very people who represent the numbers flashing on hundreds of millions of screens, and causing the blades on those fans – in those server farms – to spin in seeming perpetuity. I give you, dear reader, the rise of conversational marketing, thanks to more affordable access to data.
Does this, then mean that we have some sort of alphanumeric way of helping companies reach the right consumers, at the right times, for the right reasons? In not so many words, yes; we have the experts to dissect the Analytics, and we have the economies of scale to make what was once the province of a few the domain of many, so we can have a better idea of how businesses should interact with current and potential customers online; how they can socialize within the realm of social media.
First, a caveat: Data reveals almost everything, but it does not write anything. Meaning, it is still the job of a skilled marketer to take what they know (or what a colleague tells them they should know) and craft a message of sincerity and action, of purpose and persuasive power.
Secondly, that responsibility is more difficult than absorbing the analytics of this or that report; because, and this where something as transparent as science must yield to something as inexact as art, specifically, the art of writing. I issue this statement from experience and understand the challenges inherent in treating writing like the discipline it is, like the exercise it must be, because there is no substitute for excellence.
The good news is that data shows us what people want (or what they want to talk about), which is a great thing, but transforming that material into conversational gold – well, that requires something else entirely. It demands awareness of where promotion ends and discussion begins. Not an easy task for even the most adept of marketers.
The even better news is that there are enough veteran marketers – there are plenty of talented writers, too – who know the difference between interrupting a conversation and furthering one, between disrupting the rhythm of everything from a chat about a new product, to a debate about a company’s core values.
In such a scenario, be as transparent as the data you possess; be as forthright as the analytics at your disposal and the numbers that are yours to use with discretion. Be honest, period, about who you are and what you can, and will say.
The takeaway lesson here is that data can be a catalyst for positive change. Far from being numbing, the numbers inspire us to write with clarity and conviction, to communicate with a sense of common sense.
The more the two complement each other – the more data and effective conversation unite as one – the more dynamic online discourse will be and the more successful marketing will be in general.
These events will not happen suddenly, but they will nonetheless occur. That forever improves the depth and breadth of marketing, creating an ongoing dialogue between companies and consumers.
That is the proof of the
rise of Big Data.