The world of marketing, and therefore websites and the internet, is rapidly changing as all of our decisions and the way we do things is informed by Big Data.

Until fairly recent developments, Big Data was something that only large businesses could take advantage of. The servers and hardware required were too expensive for most medium and small businesses.

However, with the advent of cloud data services and other tools, big data can affect even the smallest business. So where does this data come from and how do we use it?

An Introduction to Big Data

Most big data that we use in marketing and customer service comes from information the customer voluntarily shares with your company, the industry as a whole, search engines, or on social media. Some of it comes from the devices those customers use.

The devices that collect and share this data are a part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Loosely defined, these devices are anything that gathers data that can be used to initiate or influence an action.

An example is the Breathe app on the new Apple watch. The app encourages users to “take time to breath” a few times a day based on their activity and settings.

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The app the gathers the data of when the person used it, how long they meditated on their breath for (1 minute minimum), and even how many times they engaged in the app over a week and month long period. It sends these reports to the user, which then has the potential to make an impact on their behavior.

While this may seem simple, the key is that this data is information the customer has surrendered, and the device has collected. That same device influenced the behavior in the first place.

Similar data, from shopping and browsing habits to purchase timing and options can be derived from a customer’s online behavior and used to personalize their web experience on your site. So once you have established a domain name and a solid web presence, what are the ways we use this data?

Introduce Yourself

One of the first things you can learn about the customer if they register or sign in to your site is their name and usually their gender. This information allows you to introduce yourself to them in a much more personal way.

This means your homepage or landing pages will not always look the same to everyone who visits your site. This process can be automated, and very effective. This personal introduction is how you start building a relationship with your customer.

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The Virtual Handshake

This is the part of your sales funnel where you find out what the customer wants. Fortunately, you do not have to ask them: you can simply follow their previous browser and shopping history, and showcase for them the products and services they are looking for.

The longer they stay on your site, the easier this is, but using tools like Google Adwords, your site can be showing them things they have searched for elsewhere that they can also find on your website.

You are not only introducing yourself and asking how you can help them, but you are showing the customer that you are interested in what they are interested in. This is not about hard selling, but instead about aligning with customer interests and showing them related items as well.

While this can be somewhat automated as well, many customers respond well to chat windows that ask if they need help finding anything. These can be great ways to gather even more data about your customers.

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Listen Closely

With all the data out there, it is very possible for it to seem like just noise, and for data to be missed. It is vital to be careful and listen closely to what your customers are saying and sharing. This means not only should you gather data through things like social media listening, but you also need to analyze it and be selective.


Your customers are telling you a lot about how they like to be treated, how they like to purchase things, and the payment methods they prefer to use. Listening to these things is vital to your customer service success, and achieving good personalization.

Remember too that although we use social media to gather data and listen to our customers, it is also about being social, engaged, and interacting with them. If you don’t, you will miss some great opportunities to hear from your customer and to change your behavior and processes accordingly.

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A Fond Farewell and Offer to Return

Finally, you can use big data to give the customer a fond farewell when they leave your site, whether or not they have made a purchase.

Then you can, through personalization, offer them a reason to return: whether this is a coupon or discount towards an item they were looking at, a consultation about their needs, or even some free information.

Even if they do not take you up on your offer, you should still bid them a fond farewell, and let them know you hope they will visit again.

No matter what the size of your business, you can use Big Data to inform your decisions, improve your marketing and customer service, and make your website the best it can be.