Big Data and the Online
Three optimization techniques provide the link between big data
and a turbocharged online experience for your customers.
The term “big data” has muscled its way into the business lexicon and now looms over many key aspects of
enterprise activity. For online marketers, big data represents the potential to use myriad internal and external information sources to gain unique insights into customers’ online behavior, provide them with a more
compelling shopping experience and motivate them to buy.
These big-data fueled opportunities can, however, be fleeting. Online shoppers are mercurial, ready to flit
to another website at the first notion that better deals and a richer customer experience await. Because of
this, big data is most useful if it is brought to bear when a customer is on your site and on the brink of a purchase decision. Maxymiser believes that applying three optimization techniques – online testing, automated
segmentation, and behavioral targeting – can help companies capture the power of big data to enhance
customer experience at each encounter and make sound, data-driven marketing decisions.
Big data comprises the huge volumes of information that can impact decision making. It can include both
structured data found in traditional enterprise data stores and unstructured data, including raw machine
generated data, data from business applications such as email and word processing, and rich mixed-media
data from social networks.
The role that data plays in business performance makes capitalizing on the breadth and depth of big data
essential. According to Harvard Business Review, “The more companies characterized themselves as
data-driven, the better they performed on objective measures of financial and operational results. In particular, companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average,
5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.” 1
Data-driven decision making were, on average, 5% more
productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.
While big data can be a powerful tool, the unfortunate truth is that about 80 percent of it is usually useless.
The remaining 20 percent has the potential to be highly predictive of consumer behavior and preferences.
Employing big data to enhance customer experience involves filtering down to the predictive 20 percent and
then mining that data to reveal indicators of what people want. And testing, segmenting and targeting are
core tools in this process for data-driven companies.
Online testing. A testing tool simultaneously serves multiple variants of content, design and navigation to
website visitors, dynamically optimizing the test to determine the optimal combinations for increased conversion rates. Using this test-and-learn technique, information that you glean from the tested control group can
help calibrate conversion expectations. This approach promotes incremental gains that can together provide
more value in terms of return on investment and revenue than a single, big innovative change.
Automated segmentation: Automated segmentation is another technique to constantly mine visitor behavioral data to identify the best targeting opportunities by group. This enables you to track improvements in
conversion rates across different segments, apply test variants to specific segments as needed, and target
visitors regardless of their device — computer, smartphone, tablet, social media, and email. With so much
data arriving with every interaction, decisions need to be made extremely quickly, often in less than 10 milliseconds. This requires sophisticated mathematical modeling.
Behavioral targeting: Using mathematical models, a tool can measure visitor behaviors and responses to
content and offers. It rapidly evolves and adapts the content and offers to consumer interactions to drive the
highest engagement, conversion rates and revenue. A truly personalized experience can be created by monitoring visitors’ behavior and their responses to content, exploiting everything you know about them,
including customer data from customer relationship management (CRM) and point-of-sale (POS) systems,
as well as social media and other external sources.
“Big Data: The Management Revolution,” Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, Harvard Business Review, October 2012.
The value of real-time data
Focusing on real-time data is a key to gaining the benefits of testing, segmentation and targeting. Simply
put, the most recent data is often the most accurate and most predictive. A customer’s click on a website
price calculator is a clear signal of intent regardless of what earlier data might have suggested.
Real-time data may also be the most predictive data with respect to how a visitor or customer might interact
with the enterprise going forward. The Web is increasingly the first place people go to do research, providing
the very first data available on their interests and intentions.
Linking real-time data and customer experience
As they seek to take advantage of big data’s potential to enhance customer experience, businesses can
benefit from addressing key issues related to strategy, culture, skills, data and tools.
Strategy. Businesses and brands are defined by the people who patronize them. It’s common strategy in
the Web world to try and force as many prospects over the line as possible. Meanwhile, the CRM world
traditionally employs a pool strategy – who are the customers, what kinds of things do they want and what
can we do to make them more-frequent, higher-revenue customers? Strategic use of big data to enhance
customer experience involves bringing these two elements together. The Web drives the top end of the sales
funnel to keep the business thriving. CRM capabilities help in understanding who the potential customers
are, converting them, and continuing to make incremental improvements that build customer loyalty. Testing,
segmentation and targeting are the unifying tools.
Culture. Testing, segmentation and targeting can change the business operating culture, as the iterative,
data-driven process provides a surer path to accomplishing business goals than traditional marketing
intuition supported by historical data or market research. Also, the process provides a focal point for
interaction between different parts of the business, both people and systems, by bringing them together in a
symbiotic, data-driven dialog. As these interactions support ecommerce initiatives, other groups, including
sales and product development, likewise benefit from the information sharing and insights.
Skills and resources. The emergence of big data is increasing demand for data scientists, data modelers
and econometricians. Beyond these specialized capabilities, many of the skills needed to capitalize on big
data likely already exist in the organization. The benefits come from working together effectively to unlock
value. There is a strong heritage of organizations using data in customer teams and a similar heritage of
using data for online purposes as well. Bringing the two together can create breakthroughs.
Many of the skills needed to capitalize on
big data already exist in the organization.
Data. The power of big data and cloud computing might tempt an organization to undertake massive
transformation. But in today’s world, a two-year change program can become irrelevant before it ever
produces results. Instead, incremental gains can be made by deploying solutions and architectures that
yield results in the near term rather than going for large-scale projects. This requires agile technologies
that you can deploy quickly.
Tools. The technology for capturing the benefits of big data needs to be pragmatic enough in its design that
benefits can be achieved quickly. At the same time, it needs to be extensible enough that investments in
tools, skills and people will be relevant for three to five years. It’s important to determine whether you have
the right tools in place to pragmatically test and learn against different customer profiles. Doing so can help
determine if you’re acquiring and retaining the right kind of customers to make their business profitable.
Harnessing big data is a marathon, not a sprint
Some companies are entering the big data innovation era with big, overarching goals. They feel big data
can, and will, fundamentally shift the way they do business if they can implement it correctly.
That may happen. But the beauty of big data is that it can be continuously optimized by your customers,
getting you to your goals faster. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If your team can stay focused on
evolutionary, not revolutionary, changes in a continuous test-and-learn culture, the incremental gains can
add up to more than one big innovative change in terms of return on investment and revenue.
Testing, segmentation and targeting capabilities, integrated with big data and an analytics platform,
provide a strong foundation for building a better online customer experience and, as a result, competitive advantage. But this requires a transformation in the way companies organize and equip
themselves to deliver customer experiences and place evidence-based decisions at the center of
the company culture. Companies that implement this culture and make it the lynchpin for seizing the
big data opportunity will not only gain deeper customer intelligence but also develop more favorable
What We Do
Maxymiser enables any online business to turn every interaction into an experience with our cloud-based
testing, personalization and cross channel optimization solutions. Maxymiser serves billions of individual
experiences across every digital channel to dramatically improve conversion rates and revenue based on
real-time data. Combined with a team of industry experts, Maxymiser’s Customer Experience suite quickly
delivers measureable results to every client with multivariate testing, segmentation, behavioral targeting and
product recommendations for web, mobile, social and email. Maxymiser provides unique experiences for
the world’s most iconic brands, including Alaska Airlines, Harry & David, LIDS, Sovereign Bank, Teleflora
and Wyndham Hotel Group. Founded in 2006, Maxymiser has offices in New York, London, San Francisco,
Edinburgh and Dusseldorf, as well as a global network of marketing and technology partners.
www.maxymiser.com • firstname.lastname@example.org • USA +1 212 201 2359 • UK +44 (0) 203 375 0100 • Germany +49 (0) 89 207040 130