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In my last post, I introduced the two great features of Big Data that great marketers strive for: simplicity and personalization. Increasingly, the work of conversion rate optimizers (CROs) and digital marketers can be boiled down to these two optimization tactics. Why? Because they do so much more than convert.

Personalization is about creating relevant and valuable content, and simplicity is about delivering that content quickly and seamlessly. Imagine waking up on your birthday, and a friend has already left the perfect gift—that rare gadget you’ve been pining after—right there on the kitchen table beside a steaming-hot pot of coffee, cream no sugar. That’s personalization. Now imagine the present is unwrapped, no plastic packaging to hack through. That’s simplicity.

Yes, in life most of us find unwrapping presents exciting, but in digital we don’t want anything between us and the product or information we’re searching for. In the testing we’ve done at Adobe most recently, we’ve found that the simplest version wins every time. You know how some sites give you the spinning “site loading” icon and then make you sit through 30 seconds of meaningless graphics before you even get to a navigation page? Throw out the wrapping and give your visitors instant gratification.

2-for-1 Big Data Strategies

Big Data should help us view and respond to visitors as individuals, creating unprecedented opportunity to target and convert. The four strategies below will help you harness Big Data to achieve both simplicity and personalization in one fell swoop.

1. Embrace the Process

Don’t make the mistake of measuring all your marketing efforts in decimals and dollar signs. Big Data can allow us to break free of this limiting yardstick and start measuring in three dimensions. Many visitor interactions are valuable and successful for other reasons. Visitors might read the great blog post you shared, download a free report, chat with a customer service rep, subscribe to an e-newsletter, or compare products without giving you a dime. But all these touch points have likely made them more familiar, trusting, and loyal to your brand. And they’ve allowed you to gather more behavioral data, which you can now use to enhance personalization over time.

On the path to conversion, every step is important. Identify each step, determine what makes it valuable, and optimize accordingly. You can then measure success by whether or not one touch point led to the next.

2. Cultivate Existing Customers

It may seem counterintuitive to use Big Data to hone in on smaller targets, but this strategy has proven results. For one, customer acquisition can be costly and time intensive. Studies show “it’s more cost-effective to cultivate existing customers than to find new ones.” Big Data can yield tremendous insight into the loyal folks who’ve already clicked through, subscribed, and made repeat orders. Integrate these individuals’ demographic, behavioral, and purchase-history data and continue populating emails and webpages with personalized messaging that anticipates their questions and needs. You’ll make it easy (i.e., simple) for them to stay loyal.

3. Generate Insights, Not Reports

A report tells you the percentage of visitors who clicked through, or the number of would-be customers who abandoned their cart. Insights tell you why. With Big Data, it’s possible to answer questions that we used to only guess at, such as “Who are the 15% who signed up and why?”

4. Pay Attention to Deviations

Big Data can liberate marketers from limiting categorizations of customers. When an individual does something unexpected or deviates from the trend, we can take note and respond. What may have been perceived as a failure of analytics, can now be an opportunity for engagement. If a customer buys something out of the ordinary, or fails to renew a standing order, a company can immediately reach out with discounts on a new line of products, a simple survey, or a freebie. This reminds people that you value them and can be flexible enough to grow with them.

Even negative visitor experiences can be turned into positive opportunities. If you’re tapping into Big Data, you can listen to customers across multiple channels, registering their complaint on Twitter, and sending them a personalized message to remedy the situation.

Consumers Welcome Relevance

Although we’ve all heard the buzz about Big Data and targeted marketing being “creepy,” the truth is your visitors are asking for a more responsive user experience. According to Monetate, 75 percent of consumers don’t mind retailers using personal information when it makes their life easier, and 85 percent understand that measuring enables companies to make more relevant offers. When it comes to Big Data, most consumers are opting-in and enjoying the benefits. As long as marketers treat people as the unique individuals they are, and focus on personalization and simplicity, we can all enjoy a long, fruitful relationship with Big Data.

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