Digital, Data and the Analyses Conundrum

Digital, Data and the Analyses Conundrum

I attended and spoke at the Big Data Retail Analytics Forum in London last week. The event hosted by IQPC sought to discover how to embed a data-centric culture into your business.

The Forum was attended by data analysts, marketing & CRM Directors, business intelligence executives, supply chain managers, software development companies and data analyses solution-driven companies.

The event sparked broad discussion about what ‘big data’ actually is and how retail is utilising this information for greater actionable insights.

I’m neither a scientist nor an analyst and I could have been forgiven for attending the wrong event. However, as day one rolled on it became pretty clear that the data world once inhibited by mathematicians, scientists and engineers was now enveloping those in the digital marketing world.

Data is everywhere, and as we were reminded by Andrew Mann, Customer Data Director, The Co-Operative, data has been around as long as humans have. There is just more of it with the arrival of the social web and the evolution of the Internet of things (IOT).

Today we leave a data footprint with each digital action – search, browse, click, download, sign-up, post, like, swipe – and over multiple devices. So it is becoming ever more difficult, not simply to track all of this data, but to analyse it for actionable insights.

Visualisation of data was one of the major themes to emerge from the Forum. In my world as in the world of CRM, Supply Chain Management or Data Analysts we look at dashboards every day. But with more data, the danger is that we have multiple dashboards that confuse as oppose to solve.

Digital marketing professionals like I use multiple tools to analyse data such as Google Analytics for web traffic, Kissmetrics for customer behaviour and Hootsuite for social media insights.

However, it seems that granular data is precisely what we should be examining, that being the specific and personal journey of each individual customer.


eBay UK From What to What’s Next Through Insight Integration

 Heather Wade, Head of Customer Insight & Rhea Fox, Head of Research gave an insightful presentation on how eBay UK is using data to influence strategy.

They gave us their manifesto for what’s next:

  • Customers not data
  • Only do meaningful work
  • Be method neutral
  • Train for insight narration skills
  • Recruit for attitude
  • It doesn’t matter who does what 


Algorithm Driven Retailers Know Their Customers


Founders of the The Smart Cube, a people business made up of 600 data analysts, told us that data should be used to come up with smart algorithms to influence strategy. Dashboards are visualization, they are stories that talk about ROI, customer journey, next steps. As you move to smart analytics you move to smart visualization.

  • Look beyond your organisation, look at the digital footprint being left behind by your customer
  • Make data an offensive weapons through algorithms
  • Leverage new out-tasking models for partnership


Knowledge transfer is key – an open relationship is key, it’s about sharing and leveraging knowledge to get the job done.


Why Stories Rule the Social Web

I delivered a 90-minute workshop on the importance of moving your marketing focus from selling, to building a better relationship with your customers.

Joanne Sweeney Burke Why Stories Rule the Social Web

Nowadays, we are constantly being sold to. We have people at our front door, emailing and calling at all hours. The problem is as a whole, we don’t like being sold to, so eventually we put up a wall. The key for retailers is to think about people and stories, not sales and technology. Going back to basics is all about building relationships with the customer first, before selling a product to them.

I shared with delegates how to use data insight to anticipate customer behaviour and create an innovative content marketing strategy, with a particular focus on past, present and predictive analytics.


Context Marketing Tips – Personalisation of Content

I would argue, having spent 25 years in advertising, that most brands in a sense don’t really have a target audience, they have a target context. I think actually who you sell to is probably less important – certainly in demographic terms – than the moments at which people are prepared to do something.  – Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group UK


  • Alter your mindset: You don’t always have to sell; it’s all about the prospective customer;
  • Use data analytics: to identify your consumer’s habits, shopping behaviours and preferences, so that you can create online content and experiences for each individual customer;
  • Consider the “online influencer”: do they have their own community that you can tap into?
  • Engage with the “word of mouth” marketer: Is there somebody who would recommend your brand? 



I also outlined why retail needs a Digital Revolution and shared a series of videos tracking how technology, customer behaviour and data is changing retail as we know it.



Finally, I interviewed retail and tech entrepreneur Jenny Griffiths, founder of SnapFashion. Jenny is a remarkable young entrepreneur who turned her Masters thesis into an international tech company working with some of the major retail brands including Time Inc.

With Snap Fashion, shop fashion in a Snap

Take a photo of the look you love and we’ll find you similar things from over hundreds of thousands items available on the high-street and online. Snap Fashion is available on the web and your mobile phone.

Jenny Griffiths Founder of Snap Fashion


Do you need content and context marketing ideas?

If you would like to develop a context marketing plan for your business then please get in touch. Email [email protected].

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