Before you get to BIG data, don't forget the LITTLE data in marketing

I was privileged enough to participate in two panel discussions this week - one for Ad Week Europe and the other for BrightTalk*.

Both were for slightly different marketing audiences but both came round to some common topics. Namely what are the big things going on in marketing, what's being over-hyped and what can add value. And specifically, what are those things in digital marketing.

[Side note : I have to say, the concept of "digital" marketing as a standalone thing is now an anachronism. Just face it, such a thing no longer exists. We're just marketing in the digital age. But I'll leave that for another post.]

Naturally the conversation soon came around to Big Data and what that means for marketers. With the rise of huge varieties of data sources (online, offline, location/telematics, quantified self etc.), real-time behavioural information and always-on marketing, its tempting to get blinded by the science.

My point at both sessions was this : we've got enough trouble dealing with the "little data" without worrying about "big data". Too many marketers have yet to get the basics right. As my fellow panellist Adam Sharp nicely put it, there are just four pieces of data a B2B marketer needs to understand/measure to build credibility and success in their business. These are:

  • Revenue target
  • Average deal size
  • Win:Loss ratio
  • Average length of sales cycle

From these you can calculate how many deals your business needs, and therefore the number of leads you need to generate. By month or quarter. You can also focus on improvement - increasing deal sizes or reducing the sales cycle.

Get it right and you'll be a hero. You'll also earn the right to flex those creative tendencies and expand your marketing footprint. It's all about getting numbers on the table and proving the business impact of marketing. Get it wrong, and you'll never get anywhere near to iBeacons, leveraging digital "body language" and the whole world of Big Data. 

So, sweat the small stuff first!

Of course, if you want to get some best practice on marketing in the digital age you can attend our Digital Marketing Summit in May in London. 2 days packed with 200 of the finest  speakers you'd care to meet, 3,000 marketers to network with and a kick-ass party to top it all off (Jessie J was the headline act last year). It's going to be a great event.

*By the way these were two of the most enjoyable panels I've taken part in for a long while. Particular kudos to the respective facilitators - Mark Earls and Lindley Gooden. Top guys.

Image : Courtesy of Scriberia Ltd