June 11, 2015

Beyond Big Data

Big data. Research. Analytics. It’s more complicated than ever to figure out how to think about these topics—and to understand what it all means.

That’s just one reason I appreciated what Leslie Feinzaig, VP/Digital at Julep Beauty, Inc., had to say recently at a business forum in Seattle.

“I pick up the phone and call people!” she proclaimed.

In addition to calling people, here are three other considerations that go beyond big data to gather customer or stakeholder insights.

  1. Ask yourself a few simple questions
    What is the purpose of the research? What type of research—quantitative or qualitative—will provide the information I need to build a marketing plan or communications strategy? Will this research provide my leaders important insights?

  2. Consider conversations, rather than statistical significance 
    I just reviewed a comprehensive research report from a reputable research firm. Objective questions, check. Representative sample, check. Lots of pretty charts and graphs, yep. The problem: It didn’t help me understand the “why” behind the stats.

    Face-to-face conversations build trust—and trusted conversations can reveal hopes and fears, passions and problems.

  3. Think differently
    Survey responses and online behaviors don’t necessarily reveal truths or facts.

    Two recent examples:

    I signed up to get the online edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) delivered to my work email, yet I usually delete it. Once HBR landed in my Facebook NewsFeed, which I scan every morning over coffee, I began to read it regularly. There are many things I say I’ll do, think I’ll do and hope I’ll do. The retailer or digital strategist who understands and anticipates my needs, gets my business.

    Back to the smart folks at Julep.

    In addition to hosting #MavenMeetups all over the country, Feinzaig and her colleagues continue to dig deeper, always aiming to understand their customers. When IT staff observed that customers were clicking and viewing items all over the Julep site, they worried there may be problems with the app.

    Not Feinzaig: “It showed me women were enjoying their shopping experience.”