Big Data Won’t Drive Creativity, Big Insights Will


A key focus for businesses has been how to meet the big data challenge. However, the emphasis has been on the quantity, rather than quality, of data and while being overwhelmed by volume, businesses have missed the real opportunity – the Big Insight.

The problem is that marketers aren’t quite sure where to begin. They should take a leaf out of the book of Behavioural Economics and break the problem into bite-sized chunks. Rather than thinking about “all that data, flying at us at hyper-speed, to be culled, analysed and sliced a million different ways” they should consider identifying which data is the right data. Often referred to as ‘little data’ but it’s the same logic i.e.: look at fewer data points and make sure they can help you to answer your key business challenges.

True data insight can guide better business decisions and also help to mould creative communications. Having a clear picture of what your customers look like, what motivates them, what interests them, what and where they engage with communications, will ensure that the right content is created, or curated, for them. This is content that customers see value in, as is relevant to them.

Here are four key considerations that can help brands identify the right data, how it should be gathered, analysed and then applied creatively:

1.  What Do You Need To Understand?

Before diving head first into collecting and analysing data, first consider the types of things you want to know. Start with your customer, not the products you sell them, and think about who your customers are. What do you already know about them? More importantly, what don’t you know about them that you’d like to know? What information would make a difference to how you sell to them? Are you able to define the needs of your customers and know how to keep them close to your brand? From all of your customers, are you able to pinpoint the ones that provide the biggest opportunity for business growth?

In its simplest terms what you really want to understand is: who are my most valuable customers, what do they engage with most, and where can I find more like them? You would then know exactly who you’re targeting and why. Understand what key customer knowledge is needed to provide the foundation for driving usable customer insight.

2.  Match ‘What You Want To Know’ With ‘What You Already Know’

Once you’ve established the core insight drivers, work out whether the data you need already exists within your business or whether it needs to be collected. Useful data often sits across many areas and teams within the business and so consider all of the touchpoints customers are likely to engage with; your website, your call centre, your retail sites, your partners, as well as the transactional information held in customer databases.

3.  Collect The Data You Need… From The People You Want To Attract

Create a phased plan to collect what you need over time. Some of the data you need may not be immediately available and so work within the constraint of your budgets, the technology available to you and the access you have to your customers.

Some of the most important pieces of the jigsaw such as “what do my customers really desire?” may only be answered through undertaking qualitative research or through deeper analysis of a variety of existing quantitative information.

Remember that less is more. Try to balance what you’re asking customers to share with you with what they are likely to get in return. A value exchange doesn’t necessarily need to be incentive based; useful information or access to inspirational content can be equally appealing. Whatever you offer, make sure it’s helpful, interesting and engaging.

4.  Marrying Data And Creativity

The creative use of data, rather than working with a set of statistics, provides the Big Insight. The Big Insight about your most valuable customers will come from your insight journey. It may be about what customers love about your product or brand, or equally what they hate about your competitors. It might not be product related at all but revolve around customer service – speed of delivery, how efficiently complaints are managed, how simple products are to access. The Big Insight fuels creative idea generation as it offers a true reflection of the audience for whom the creative output is intended, and it means that what is created will be something that customers care about.

Some brands have managed to use their data and insight in fun and clever ways to encourage consumers to engage with them. Richmond Sausages developed a great value exchange for customers to encourage them to buy their sausages, and in return, they could claim a teddy-tracking chip. Their Big Insight revolved around bringing families together, and sitting around the dinner table eating a meal together does exactly that. They then identified that the worst thing that could happen to the family unit was to lose the children’s teddy – hence, the teddy-tracking chip. They collect data from the people who request the chip (through redeeming a code online) and then the brand has an engaged customer base to communicate with in the future about their products.

Brands can learn from this approach and many other successful campaigns that have used data insights, to develop smart and useful campaign and long-term strategies. It takes effort to find the right customer data and pull real insight from it. But brands that manage to achieve both can build creative content that truly captures the imagination – and ultimately, the ongoing custom of their customers.