September 24, 2013

The Truth About Big Data

by Steve Olenski

This past July Econsultancy issued a report which made reference to the fact that Big Data is causing big frustrations for those who make their living in the marketing world. The sub-headline that appeared on their site in announcing the report read: “Big data has become something of a buzzword over the past year or so, but is it actually useful?”

Well I happen to think Big Data is useful alright but only if it’s the right Big Data. I mean you can’t just have data just for the sake of having data, yes?

One company has found that leveraging a more accurate, scientific approach based on big data can help marketers socialize their data — giving them a way to understand and leverage their customers’ and prospects’ real-world relationships to substantially improve customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention.

In other words, identify the right Big Data.

The company is Pursway and companies like Comcast and Sony working with them to tap into the connection of real-life relationships that go well beyond the boundaries of Facebook friends and Twitter followers to drive 2-5x higher ROI for marketing campaigns.

Whether you call it Relationship Marketing or Influencer Marketing the key is to identify who in a certain group is most likely to positively affect the purchase and use of specific products or services in a particular population. And according to Ran Shaul, founder and chief client officer of Pursway, their technology can help marketers better target, measure and monetize those relationships.

Here are some key findings they’ve uncovered:

  • Consumers are 2X more likely to buy a specific product if their close friends did, yet most marketers cannot identify the real-life relationships between their customers
  • The top 10 percent of influencers can drive up to 50 percent of a brand’s revenue, yet most marketers cannot pinpoint these individuals in their database
  • Purchase influencers are usually NOT who marketers think they are — they are often not the high spenders, vocal brand advocates or social media superstars
  • Purchase influencers are category experts but tend to be the people others ask about products rather than the people who proactively discuss products

Digging Deeper

I wanted to learn more about this unique method of identifying those key influencers and using the right Big Data so I had a chat with Ran Shaul to learn more.

Steve Olenski: What makes Pursway different than other companies/platforms? (talk here about both Influencer Marketing and the need to identify not just influencers but the RIGHT influencers but dont get into the WHY as that will lead into my next question)

Ran Shaul: Pursway is the only company that actually socializes the CRM database. We can look at any customer database and reveal who is a friend of whom. By socializing data – combining big data techniques with factual evidence of social influence – we help brands map meaningful relationships between people in their database and unleash the power of the social graph of real-world relationships to influence purchase decisions and enhance brand loyalty. We also define and measure influence in a different way than other vendors. For us, influence is about one person actually having purchase influence over others, i.e. making others actually spend money, not about how many friends and followers they have.

Olenski: Why is it important to identify the RIGHT influencers?

Shaul: If you want to drive actual sales, it is critical that you figure out who people actually look to when they make purchase decisions, not necessarily those who are the loudest or most active on social media about your products. If you can find the people others trust enough to take their purchasing advice, you will convert prospects into actual customers. Anyone can have hundreds of Facebook friends and the time to comment, like, repost, share, tweet, etc. every product they purchase or store they visit but this doesn’t mean anyone is actually listening or cares. Pursway believes that meaningful relationships with the power to turn prospects into customers and inactive customers into buyers are rooted in offline connections, not online interactions. Identifying the right influencers means tapping a social graph that maps out powerful, real-word relationships based on concrete bonds (e.g., family, coworkers, college roommates, neighbors, teammates).

Olenski: What’s the biggest mistake you see brands making when it comes to relationship marketing and influencer marketing?

Shaul: The biggest mistake would be not actually taking advantage of it. The fact is, people buy what their friends buy and most brands have yet to use this. For example, by socializing your data, if you could know that if one person buys a TV, five of his friends are more likely to buy one, it would seem obvious that you would want to use and monetize that knowledge in your marketing activities. But instead, too many brands are targeting the wrong types of influencers.

I also spoke with Steven Fuld, senior vice president, Sony Corporation of America.

Olenski: What do you think the future holds for relationship marketing and influencer marketing?

Fuld: I think we are just getting going. We are social animals and social media has made it abundantly clear that social influence is a very powerful thing. But unlike social media which is hard to monetize – and at the end of the day it is all about delivering real value through marketing – relationship marketing and influencer marketing lets us target the people within our customer and prospect data with true purchase influence and make them offers that will prompt them to bring others on board.

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