All this talk about Big Data and what to do with it got me to thinking about the old days of the infancy of marketing databases. When marketing databases first entered the scene, we worked hard to get transactional and demographic data into a centralized data repository. Sometimes we even incorporated survey data to expand the picture of the customer. We talked about marketing databases as the opportunity to know our customers – to return to the good old days of the general store relationship. The days when you stood at a counter and the “clerk” knew your name, your children, and more.

Today the hype is all about Big Data and the seemingly endless creation of it. We read headlines about the power of the consumer as in the infamous Verizon Wireless $2 convenience charge. But amidst all the hype, are we marketers missing the real value of Big Data in support of conversational marketing?

Unfortunately many organizations have siloed their social media team apart from the marketing database team and have squandered the potential of social media data to enrich the traditional customer/prospect data in a marketing database. Smart organizations are judiciously bringing social media data into the marketing database to enrich their insights of brand sentiment, geographical and competitive landscape positioning and their marketing relevancy or personalization strategies.

Incorporating social media aggregate scores and social media reach into your marketing database expands your understanding of your customers. Big Data brings to the marketing database the “listening” component of a conversation.  Big Data elevates the old marketing database single view of the customer to another level – it takes customer-centric marketing to conversational marketing, which brings us right back to the decades old standard of replicating the old general store experience.