How 4 types of Big Data analytics deliver data-driven results 0

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Rob Petersen


big data analytics

Big data analytics begins as a process. One that involves examining large data sets, containing a variety of data types, to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful business information.

Why do companies pursue Big Data analytics?

  • 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
  • By increasing the usability of data by just 10%, the average Fortune 100 company could expect an increase of $2 billion dollars (source: InsightSquared)
  • $300 billion could be saved if Big Data was used effectively in the US healthcare sector; thereby reducing expenditure by 8% (source: McKinsey)

But there are different types of Big Data analytics. And picking the right one for your organization is critical to delivering the right results. Because what good is the data if you don’t know what to do with it?

Here’s how 4 types of Big Data analytics deliver data-driven results.

  • PRESCRIPTIVE ANALYTICS – Seek to determine the best solution or outcome among various choices, given known parameters. For example, in the health care industry, you can better manage the patient population by using prescriptive analytics to measure the number of patients who are clinically obese, then add filters for factors like diabetes and LDL cholesterol levels to determine where to focus treatment. The same prescriptive model can be applied to almost any industry target group or problem. Prescriptive Analytics gives laser focus to answer specific questions. It usually results in recommendations based on rules. This is one of the most valuable types of analytics. Unfortunately, it is largely not used. According to Gartner, only 3% of organizations are using Prescriptive Analytics.
  • PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS – Show likely scenarios of what might happen with the goal of delivering multiple options. The deliverables are usually forecasts. For example, some companies use Predictive Analytics for sales lead scoring. They examine the data for the entire sales process, analyzing lead source, number of communications, types of communications, social media, documents, CRM data and, of course, conversions and closed sales. Then, they apply Predictive Analytics to different “what if” scenarios based on different marketing plans that deliver different forecasts. Like Prescriptive Analytics, Predictive Analytics is focused on delivering a data-driven solution. But not just one solution; rather multiple futures options on the decision-maker’s actions.
  • DIAGNOSTIC ANALYTICS – Examine past performance to determine what happened and why. The result of the analysis is often an analytic dashboard. Diagnostic Analytics are used for discovery or to determine why something happened. For example, for a social media marketing campaign, you can use Descriptive Analytics to assess the number of posts, mentions, followers, fans, page views, reviews, pins, etc. There can be thousands of online mentions that can be distilled into a single view to see what worked in your past campaigns and what didn’t.
  • DESCRIPTIVE ANALYTICS – Highlight what is happening now based on incoming data. To mine the analytics, you typically use a real-time dashboard. An example of Descriptive Analytics would be assessing credit risk; using past financial performance to predict a customer’s likely financial performance. Descriptive Analytics can be useful in the sales cycle. For example, to categorize customers by their likely product preferences and sales cycle. Descriptive Analytics or data mining are at the bottom of the Big Data value chain, but they can be valuable for uncovering patterns that offer insight.

Analytics is all about making the best decisions form the data that we have. Do these types of Big Data analytics help you see how your organizations can make better decisions from data. Is not the time for your company to learn how to use Big Data analytics for data-driven results?

10 experts give top digital marketing trends for 2016 2

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Rob Petersen


Digital Marketing Trends

It is expected within the next year or so, internet advertising will overtake TV advertising as the most widely used form of brand communication as the chart above shows.

What can marketers do to be ready for the future?

10 experts give their top digital marketing trends for 2016.

  1. BIG DATA IS SIMPLIFIED: The use of masses of data as an indicator of success will turn to the quality of the data being collected. This means that the variety for each company is likely to decrease, but the specific data that will be collected will become far more efficient, useful and plentiful. The term big data is likely to become used more infrequently as a business function, instead this is likely to be broken down into the sum of its parts. – Chris Towers, Innovation Enterprise
  2. BUY BUTTONS MAKE BUYING EASIER: E-commerce and retail marketers listen up! Buy buttons have slowly been appearing on social sites like Pinterest and Twitter. In July, Google also confirmed its testing its own buy button. The ability to buy directly from a social site, search engine and mobile sites is going to explode in 2016. – Margot da Cunha, WordStream
  3. CONTENT IS THE NEW SEO: With each update of Penguin, Google continues cracking down on SEO tactics in violation of their policy. And with every algorithm update like Panda and RankBrain, Google rewards high-quality content. Forbes writes about the the decrease and coming obsolescence of black-hat link-building for SEO: “By the end of next year, new Penguin revisions and an overall decline in opportunities to do this type of link building will make its ROI negligible once and for all, forcing more businesses to pursue… quality content publication that attracts and earns links on its own merit.” – Ben Silverman, Brafton
  4. CROSS-DEVICE TRACKING IS A REALITY: Tracking consumers across their many devices (mobile, tablet, and desktop/laptop) is a necessity for digital marketers. Marketing platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google can already track consumers who log in on each device. n 2016, more websites are likely to try implementing cross-device login functionality to gain similar visibility on their users and improve ad targeting. – Ryan Wilson, Founder of FiveFifty
  5. MARKETING AUTOMATION COMES OF AGE: As marketers today are spending at least 50 percent of their time on content, companies are coming up with more ways to automate marketing. Marketing automation alone is worth $5.5 Billion and is leading the way in lead generation and prospect nurturing. Using a marketing automation platform makes it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage your content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel. – Meaghan Moreas, HubSpot
  6. MOBILE OVER DESKTOP: Mobile usage will completely eclipse desktop usage in 2016. Mobile usage surged in 2015, thanks in part to Google’s decision to include a site’s mobile-friendliness in its search engine rankings. While desktop traffic won’t disappear entirely, Google is obviously anticipating that mobile traffic will dominate. It’s already happening: this year, more people used mobile search than web search in 10 different countries. – Matei Gavril, President and CEO of
  7. RETURN ON INVESTMENT BECOMES MORE REAL: Social media is now to be treated as just another digital channel. No longer can you rely on Facebook to provide free traffic to your website or blog. It’s become just another paid advertising channel. It’s time to get serious and focus on what matters. Moving beyond vanity metrics like traffic, likes and sharing to the sharp end of the sales funnel. Return on investment. – Jeff Bullas, blogger, author, strategist and speaker
  8. RISE AND RISE OF PAID SOCIAL ADVERTISING: Social media was free. Its pay to play. All social networks are now in this game and as social media has become just another media channel that reality is not going away. You are going to need to adapt. Facebook makes big money from this in 2015. But if you are paying you need to make sure you are measuring the results. You don’t want to be spending $100 in advertising every day and only making $50 in profit. Don’t pay for traffic until you know what it produces. – Jeff Bullas
  9. VIRTUAL REALITY EMERGES: Offers a refreshingly unique perspective to digital marking. By engulfing the viewer in the advertisement or commercial, virtual reality has developed an entirely new way to engage viewers. A benefit of virtual reality is that it demands the viewer’s attention. One of the struggles of marketing is to engage the viewer in a quick and effective manner.- AJ Agrawal, CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc.
  10. WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY BECOMES A RETAIL PHENOMENON – Next year should be the year when the consumer benefits of wearables converge to create mass-market adoption. More products will connect users to their health, clothing, technology, media systems and families. Because wearables satisfy two crucial demands of today’s savvy consumer – personalized marketing and on-demand immediacy. – Michael Kahn, CEO, Performics

Is your business involved in any of the these trends to be ready for the future? Are you interested in learning how you could be?

25 examples of companies doing something with Big Data 0

Posted on June 08, 2015 by Rob Petersen




Big Data

  • 90% of the world’s total data has been created just within the past two years (source: IBM)
  • 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (Columbia Business School/IAB)
  • 34% of organizations say they have no formal strategy to deal with Big Data (source: Information Week)

Although business leaders trust data to lead to insights on the effective management of their companies, many have no strategy on how to use data.

Big data is an evolving term that describes any voluminous amount of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that has the potential to be mined for information.

To inspire you, since more and more data is available, here are 25 examples of companies doing something with Big Data.

  1. ATLANTA FALCONS: Use GPS technology to assess player movements during practices, which helps the coaches create more efficient plays.
  2. BANK OF AMERICA: “BankAmeriDeals” provides cash-back offers to credit and debit-card customers based upon analyses of their prior purchases.
  3. BASIS: Is a wrist-based health tracker and online personal dashboard that helps users incorporate small, progressive health changes over time—that ultimately add up to major results.
  4. BRITISH AIRWAYS: “Know Me” program combines already existing loyalty information with the data collected from customers based on their online behavior. With the blending of these two sources of information, British Airways is able to make more targeted offers while responding to service lapses in ways to create a more positive experience for the flyer.
  5. CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT: Combines patrons’ gambling outcomes with their rewards program information to offer enticing perks to those who are losing at the tables.
  6. CATAPULT: uncover vitally important information like whether an athlete is developing an injury, or whether certain workouts are overly stressful. That helps teams keep their players safe and game-ready. Sales grew 64% last year and Catapult now works with nearly half of NFL teams, a third of NBA teams, and 30 major college programs.
  7. COMMONBOND: Is a student lending platform that connects students and graduates to alumni investors and accomplished professionals. As a result, students are able to access lower, fixed-rate financing—and save thousands of dollars on their repayments.
  8. DUETTO: makes it easier for companies to personalize data to individuals searching online for hotels. Prices by hotels can be personalized by taking data such as how much you typically spend at the bar or casino to incentivize you with a lower price for your room. The hotel can give you a better price, knowing you’ll spend money on other services.
  9. EBAY: “the Feed” is a new homepage that allows customers to follow entire categories of items no matter how obscure. This makes it easier for customers to stay on top of the latest items they have a particular interest, especially if they are collectors.
  10. GE: monitors the performance of its jet engines to flag maintenance needs (such as blade wear), thus reducing flight cancellations for customers.
  11. GOOGLE: Working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, tracks when users are inputting search terms related to flu topics, to help predict which regions may experience outbreaks.
  12. HOMER: Handcrafted by top literacy experts, helps children learn to read. It has a complete phonics program, a library of beautifully illustrated stories, hundreds of science field trips, and exciting art and recording tools—combining the best early learning techniques into an engaging app that connects learning to read with learning to understand the world.
  13. LENDUP: a banking startup, evaluates whether to approve loan applicants according to how a user interacts with its site.
  14. NETFLIX: having drawn in millions of users with its high-quality original programming, is now using its trove of data and analytics about international viewing habits to create and buy programming that it knows will be embraced by large, ready-made audiences.
  15. NEXT BIG SOUND: Explains through analytics of online activity Wikipedia page views, Facebook Likes, You Tube Views and Twittter Mentions which bands are about to break, which late night shows really impact an artist’s trajectory, and many, many other quandaries that for decades had been the exclusive domain of mercurial executives
  16. NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Deploys customized software to monitor rail traffic and reduce congestion, enabling trains to operate at higher speeds. The company forecasts $200 million in savings by making trains run just 1 mph faster.
  17. PALANTIR TECHNOLOGIES: Uses big data to solve security problems ranging from fraud to terrorism. Their systems were developed with funding from the CIA and are widely used by the US Government and their security agencies.
  18. QSTREAM: allows sales reps to engage in fun, scenario-based challenges—complete with leaderboards and scoring—and produces sophisticated, real-time analytics. With this information, companies gain important insights into their existing knowledge gaps and are given the tools to create dynamic sales forces.
  19. RENTHOP: Is an apartment search platform simplifies real estate decisions, allowing users to look at curated apartment listings from trustworthy sources and determine which apartments are worth investigating—then schedule appointments with reputable brokers and property managers.
  20. SEARS: has consolidated data relating to customers, products, sales and campaigns to reduce the time needed to launch major marketing campaigns from eight weeks to one.
  21. SUMALL: Is a tool that draws in more than 60 different streams of data, including Google Ads, Fitbit, and Zendesk. And the company keeps adding more.
  22. UNITED HEALTHCARE: analyzes text converted from call center conversations to determine customer satisfaction levels via language-processing software.
  23. UBER: Is cutting the number of cars on the roads of London by a third through UberPool that cater to users who are interested in lowering their carbon footprint and fuel costs. Uber’s business is built on big data, with user data on both drivers and passengers fed into algorithms to find suitable and cost-effective matches, and set fare rates.
  24. UPS: monitors speed, direction and other drive performance metrics to design better routes through telematics sensors in more than 46,000 vehicles.
  25. VIROOL: is a powerful video service, allowing clients to target desired audiences on its global network of more than 100 million viewers. With affordable campaigns starting as low as $10 per day, Virool gives anyone the ability to distribute YouTube video content through a series of online publishers and offers clients full transparency with accurate and detailed analytics.

These are businesses and brands that are both data-driven or dedicated to data. Are they good example of companies doing something with Big Data to you? Does your organization need help learning to work with data?


5 reasons analytics is the most coveted marketing skill 0

Posted on March 22, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Iceberg for Analytics

  • 76% of companies believe analytics is a very important skill to have
  • Only 39% believe they have strong analytics talent
  • That’s a gap of 37%  among companies that value analytic skills but don’t have the talent in place (source: Online Marketing Institute)

Analytics is where more companies state they have the biggest talent gap according the OMI Study. The State of Digital Marketing. This is the issue on the surface. But is there a bigger problem that lies beneath?

Analytics is the study of past historical data to research trends and evaluate performance to gain knowledge and effect decisions. The result being to make improvements that create change.

Why do so many companies believe strong analytics solve a problem? Or is this the tip of the iceberg and another issue  lies below the surface?

Here are the 5 real reasons analytics is the most coveted marketing skill (with the facts that back them up).

MAKE BETTER DECISIONS: Analytics gets to better business decisions.

  • 91% of senior corporate marketers believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions (source: Interactive Advertising Bureau/Columbia Business School)
  • 72% of executives believe management decision making is only moderately efficient (source: Economist Intelligence Unit)
  • 56% of executives are concerned about making poor choices because of bad data (EIU)
  • 55% of executive decisions are based on ad hoc consultation instead of corporate metrics (EIU)
  • 25% of executives believes management frequently, or always, gets its decisions wrong (EIU)
  • Less than 10% of of executives receive the information they need (EIU)

ACCOUNTABILITY: Analytics improve accountability

  •  70% of senior executives say they use “what if” scenarios at different budget levels to determine sales and profits  (source: Association of National Advertisers)
  • 39% of senior management views marketing as an expense (ANA)
  • 39% say they are satisfied with marketing’s impact on sales and brand equity (ANA)
  • 38% of senior executives agree marketing and finance share common metrics (ANA)
  • 34% of senior marketing execs say they were satisfied with their agency’s metrics (brand health, copy testing, reach, frequency) (ANA)
  • 20% of senior management feels confident in forecasts of how marketing activities will impact sales (ANA)
  • 19% say they were confident that if they had to cut marketing spend by 10%, they could use metrics and analysis to forecast the impact on sales (ANA)

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI’S): Analytics help identify the right key metrics to create an actionable scorecard that keeps strategy on track

  • 90% of CFO’s believe the KPI’s they use are reflective of reality but could be improved (source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers)
  • 33% of CFO’s deploy too many KPI’s (more than 20) to be useful
  • 33% don’t deploy enough (less than 5) to be useful (PWC)
  • 33% think their current set of KPI’s is adequate (PWC)
  • 20% plan to produce KPI’s more often (PWC)
  • Only 8% think the quality of their source data is excellent

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI): Analytics determine how effectively the business and financials are being managed.

  • 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (IAB/CBS)
  • 57% are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis (IAB/CBS)
  • 51% say that a lack of sharing customer data within their own organization is a barrier to effectively measuring their marketing ROI (IAB/CBS)
  • Only 43% of organizations are establishing their marketing budgets based on marketing ROI analysis (IAB/CBS)
  • 38% say they were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their company’s ability to change established marketing strategies and budgets when ROI reports demonstrated they were not effective (ANA)
  • 37% of respondents did not include any mention of financial outcomes when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization (IAB/CBS)
  • Only 8% of companies can determine ROI for their social media spending (source: Econsultancy)

BIG DATA: Analytics gets us ready for Big Data.

  • 90% of the world’s total data has been created just within the past two years (source: IBM)
  • 75% of companies say they will increase investments in Big Data within the next year (source: Avanade)
  • 65% of companies deploy Big Data technology to boost the speed and quality of business decisions (source: CIO)
  • 59% of organizations lack the tools required to manage data from their IT systems (source: Saffron Technologies)
  • 34% of organizations say they have no formal strategy to deal with Big Data (source: Information Week)
  • 5% of companies believe Big Data will “fizzle out after the hype dies down” (source: CIO)
  • 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month (source: McKinsey)
  • 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytic skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts will be needed by 2018 to fill jobs in Big Data (McKinsey)

BarnRaisers helps companies use analytics to make improvements and create change.

Digital Analytics, Measurement and ROI are courses I teach in the Digital Marketing Mini-MBA program at Rutgers CMD. Class is in session the week of March 31st.  I also am a co-author of  Strategic Digital Marketing, the ultimate crash course in digital marketing, and wrote the chapter on Measurement and ROI.

Does your company need analytics help? Do these reasons explain to you why analytics is so important to so many companies?





7 reasons social media agencies are like advertising agencies; 8 reasons they’re not 131

Posted on July 13, 2010 by Rob Petersen

Before starting BarnRaisers, I worked at well-known advertising agencies.  I was fortunate to have worked on major brands, some at times of profound change, and with very talented people.  It was a lot fun for a lot of years.

A former client, Brian Perkins, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at J&J, said at Cannes this year, “holding companies for ad agencies should consider taking themselves private.  Advertising is a labor-intensive, not capital-intensive, business and it’s inevitable digital agencies are going to gravitate toward brand stewardship.”

You may or may not agree, but Brian’s comments indicate a shift is taking place.  To help explain why, here are 7 reasons social media agencies are like ad agencies and 8 reasons they’re not.


  1. Both have to demonstrate a deep understanding of consumer attitudes and buying behaviors
  2. Both have to find insights into unmet consumer needs
  3. Both have to know how to create and build brands
  4. Both have to be able to take the brand idea and translate it across all media platforms
  5. Both have to be on top of media usage and trends
  6. Both have to find unique tactics and executions that accelerate sales and have people talking
  7. Both are accountable for results, return on investment and sustainable sales growth


  1. Ad agencies communicate through a monologue.  Social media agencies through a conversation
  2. Ad agencies work with product benefits.  Social media agencies with shared interests
  3. Ad agencies target heavy users of brands who they encourage to buy more.  Social media agencies find advocates who they encourage to spread the word
  4. Only 14% of people trust advertising.  80% of people trust the recommendations of other people
  5. Ad agencies use multiple mediums and are “media neutral.”  Social media agencies work mostly on the internet where 90% of all purchase decisions begin.
  6. Ad agencies are labor intensive.  Social media agencies are even more labor intensive because, once the campaign is launched, the work has just begun (e.g. content refreshment, community management, measurements and analytics).
  7. Only 18% of ad campaigns ever generate a positive ROI.  While people kick the tires on the ROI of social media, brands, like Blendtec blenders, have proven an ROI of 500-to-1 with much less investment.
  8. Ad agencies tend to be secretive about their “proprietary” and “trademarked” process for creating ads.  Social media agencies tend to share their work and publish for all in places like SlideShare.

I’ve found social media promotes a culture of givers, not takers.  People like Joe Sorge, Toby Bloomberg, Tom Anderson, David Berkowitz, Kelley Connors and Mike Rogers (to name just a few) have routinely offered to help or participate in speaking engagements, workshops and presentations with no mention of “where’s my cut” or “what are you getting.”  It something that’s a little different and a whole lot more fun.

Do you have an opinion on the difference between the two?

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.

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