Painting an accurate customer profile is critical to use of ‘big data’

By John EganAugust 21, 2014

“Big data” is a big deal these days, but that data does no good if lead generators lack a clear picture of their current and potential customers. That was among the key takeaways from a performance marketing session Aug. 14 at LeadsCon New York.

“It’s not just about connecting the dots; it’s about painting a portrait of who that person really is,” said Chris McArdle, general manager of media and advertising at Neustar, a provider of real-time information and analytics.

McArdle said the accuracy of data that Neustar and other companies collect is critical to creating an accurate portrait of a customer. “Getting a consumer’s identity right is really difficult,” he said.

Painting a realistic portrait of a customer is vital to long-term engagement, McArdle said. “If the identity is wrong, nothing else matters.” That identity must be nailed down before an outbound sales call is made or before an ad is purchased, he said.

In its effort to churn out accurate consumer data for its clients, Neustar updates consumer information from 200 sources every five minutes, according to McArdle. Only 30 percent of that data comes from public sources.

Hampering the pursuit of accurate data is the fact that millions of people change their addresses, phone numbers, cellphone carriers or names every year, McArdle said.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to use data, but it can be overwhelming,” McArdle shared.

Despite the hassles, gathering that data is important so that businesses can clearly define their customer personas, according to Anna Agishtein, enterprise marketing manager at Google. For instance, Agishtein can divide her customers into personas such as small business owner, chief information officer and IT administrator. The more you understand your current customers, the easier it is to find new ones, she said.

However, in their quest to identify customers, marketers walk a fine line between invading customers’ privacy and serving up insights to help customers make purchasing decisions, Agishtein said.

In the end, using customer data to fine-tune outreach can pay dividends. McArdle cited a case study of one its customers, computer maker Lenovo, showing that segmenting visitors into “profiles” triggered a 40 percent boost in Lenovo’s online conversion rate and a 25 percent lift in revenue per visitor. That segmentation allowed Lenovo to change the look of its website to match each customer’s profile.

“Personalization is something we want to move to as a dot-com organization. We know the technologies exist to serve the personalized experience but we lacked the data points to get us there,” Siping Roussin, senior manager of optimization and personalization at Lenovo, said in the case study.

This article is brought to you by LeadsCon New York.

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