Big Data Can Be 'Big-Time Data'

Big Data opens huge opportunities for email marketers to better target consumers. Yet, consumers surely get freaked out with all that knowledge about them, right? Apparently, not across the board.

In some businesses at least, customers don’t mind and may even be enthusiastic if the personalized information collected gives them some value in return.

At, Greg Samson, the vice president of marketing, says: “We've found that the most data-driven, potentially scary messages that result from signals that we get from following people, are the messages actually that our customers and our subscribers react the most positively to.”

Speaking at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit on Tuesday, Samson added that travel is a very personal activity and, while messages are “driven by data … but they seem to be coming from a person who has just reached out to this customer to help them.”

(CheapAir competes in the online travel booking space.)

Erin Levzow, director of e-commerce and interactive marketing at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, said customers appreciate staff knowing their preferences and making them a spa appointment or directing them to a favored slot machine.

While she said it is important not to get “too weird and creepy for people … they really like that, they feel welcome.”

Levzow joined Samson on a Big Data panel and mentioned the casino industry has mounds of data from online hotel bookings to loyalty cards, which offers opportunities if it can be harnessed.

“If we don’t connect all that data and all those touchpoints, I’m not doing the best job I can (in) targeting that customer,” she said.

Big Data has gotten a lot of media play recently even though it is hardly new, but it still offers immense opportunity. According to Rapleaf CEO Phil Davis, the potential is there to find the “the holy grail of one-to-one marketing, getting the right message to the right person at the right time in the right way … at a cost that doesn’t cost more than the actual conversion.”

Casting forward, David Baker, an Acxiom vice president in multichannel marketing, said a Neiman Marcus for example will be able to obtain information on customer spending habits and propensities. “That’s big-time data, not big data,” he said.

Rapleaf’s Davis thinks Big Data will yield more automated analytic engines to help process the data coming with volume, velocity and variety as never seen before. Effective engines need to isolate “the data fields that moves the needle the most,” he said.

He said third-party data can be immensely effective. Rapleaf clients tend to spend between $3 and $20 to acquire an email address. Davis said though they generally don’t know how to take advantage swiftly, but data “will allow you to create much better first impressions.”

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