Ask anyone in the marketing industry today and they will tell you that big data is where it is at. Unfortunately, despite all we know about the importance of using big data to target customer and prospects, few companies are leveraging that data to its full extent.

The fact is, most businesses see big data as simply a way to figure out what a customer will purchase next. And while this is certainly an important piece of information, that is all it is-just one piece. Big data should also be used for a more sustainable competitive edge, namely harnessing that information to create long-term loyalty. After all, if all of your customers are one-and done-buyers, you won’t be in business very long.

So instead of asking what will compel a customer to buy, companies need to ask what will compel a customer to remain loyal to their brand in the long term. For example, if a competitor offers a lower price, what will prevent them from switching to that competitor?

In other words, big data needs to be used to help businesses understand what they can do for their customers instead of the other way around. Doing this involves asking a few questions:

  1. How can I use data to reduce my customers or prospects costs or risks? Testimonials and reviews are increasingly important to consumers. That’s because people want to know what others in their situation gained from going with a particular vendor, be it a hotel chain, a dry cleaner or a daycare provider. If I can provide those cost- or risk-cutting measure that people are looking for, then I would be providing value that other companies are not.
  2. Is there something people are looking for that is not currently available? Think of companies that have been widely successful doing something we all feel we should have thought of. No matter what you sell, there is undoubtedly a better way to sell it. One example would be insurance companies that began selling their products online. Is there a better way to give the people what they want? Your customer data will likely offer many clues.
  3. No matter how different my customers or prospects may seem from each other, is there something that they all have in common?
    Collecting information from a wide-range of customers or prospects can allow you to pinpoint specific traits of a particular customer.
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