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Small data: The evolution of engagement

The explosion of social media channels over the past five years has forever changed the way companies communicate with customers. Marketers watched as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more recently Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat enjoyed being the ‘New kid on the block’, gained early adoption and then mass following.

The way different segments of customers engage with and use these respective social media platforms has now matured and changed. As a very basic example, teenagers are most likely to use Snapchat, while women over 30 would be more inclined to connect via Facebook. Customers are also more empowered than ever before and have moved from passive observers to regular content contributors and influencers.

The proliferation of channels available to connect with consumers and the ability to access rich data about them creates huge opportunities for marketers to engage and create brand loyalty.

The term ‘Big Data’ has become a much overused buzzword recently and is generally referencing little more than good, old fashioned targeted marketing. In other words, companies are merely segmenting databases and creating demographic generalisations about those segments, before marketing to these audiences en masse. However, the focus is now shifting to ‘small data’, or targeted marketing campaigns based on individuals. This could include selecting specific coloured backgrounds a user likes or offering a percentage discount rather than dollars off, based on that particular individual’s purchasing history.

Interestingly, many customers are no longer fearful about this level of ultra-personalisation. Instead consumers have become more discerning regarding the brands and products they endorse based on how well companies tailor their messaging.

The lines between where and how consumers see marketing are continually being blurred. Consumers are becoming increasingly au fait with interacting with brands in the same places they have social conversations. In the world of small data, marketers must create continuous and personalised relationships at scale with proven impact. In other words, companies need to move beyond customer engagement towards customer obsession.

The new focus on small data is of course not without risk. Organisations are in danger of alienating customers who still view ultra-personalisation as scary and there is also the risk of brands getting their messaging wrong, due to incorrect analytics. Creating this level of personalisation at scale requires sophisticated digital marketing tools and a high level of expertise.

However, the real risk to companies is doing nothing. Customers know that marketers now have the technology to communicate with them on the most personal and intimate of levels. Brands that continue to offer generic, mass messaging will suffer from increasing irrelevance and savvier, contextually aware competitors.

About the Author:

Cade WitnishCade Witnish is the Managing Director of Loud&Clear, a full service creative digital agency based in Melbourne. For more information visit www.loudclear.com.au


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