As with many things digital, online publishing has opened up a lot of big possibilities to B2B and B2C publishers. Multiple delivery channels, an array of devices, social sharing and diversified revenue streams make the world seem bigger (and smaller) all at once—with a universe of new prospects at our fingertips.

Yet we can’t nurture those prospects into leads and those leads into customers if we don’t understand them. That’s where the data comes in; there is an ever-increasing wealth of digital data out there and its sheer volume has earned it the moniker Big Data —because it’s often too big and too fast for the data management tools used traditionally by businesses, but it can yield big insights.

Of course, big data applies to all types of businesses, but what does it mean for publishers?

Essentially, appropriately analyzing big data can lead to added value for readers and sponsors: 

  • See a clearer picture of all the moving parts that are most effective for your audience—channels, messages, content, devices—and how different groups interact with those parts.
  • Gain greater insight into what works best where and what isn’t working, which enables you to tailor your content to specific segments of your audience, for maximum results—without squandering resources.
  • Learn what your audience wants and needs and therefore develop products and tools that fulfill those needs.
  • Apply this knowledge to provide advertisers and sponsors with increasingly stellar, targeted Lead Gen and advertising opportunities to connect with your audience.

The result? Delivering the right message or tools to the right people in the right place at the right time. Not only does this perpetuate greater audience engagement and monetization of your content and products but it also allows your sales and marketing team to succeed more quickly and efficiently.

How Do You Handle Big Data?

Big data can be hard to handle, but you can reduce that complexity by aligning your staff and systems. As we mentioned, traditional data management tools are not necessarily equipped to handle all this information. Big data requires you to take a more data-driven approach to your content and sales strategies:

Develop a data-savvy team.  This doesn’t mean that you have to totally reorganize. It just means that it’s important to have people on your team (whether staff or contractors) who possess technical expertise in big data and can interpret the story it’s telling in the context of your goals.

Implement tools and systems to apply audience data to content delivery and marketing. To begin with, you want to know who your users are and track their activities to gain insights on how to serve them best:

  • Capture eNewsletter and event registration data
  • View, sort and export audience behavior data – pages and content viewed, time on site, articles emailed, purchase history
  • Synchronize audience data captured on your website with marketing lists to target marketing, subscription and sales efforts
  • Target content to maximize value and engagement

You also want something flexible and scalable enough that you can integrate visitor and customer data with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel as long as registration, subscription and eCommerce are aligned with Circulation and Sales systems.

Encourage members and subscribers to manage their own accounts. No need to guess when customers set and update content preferences, keep track of subscriptions, purchases and downloads.

Make the data yours:

  • Handle registrations, subscriptions and purchases on your site to capture this data and monitor behavior during the check-out process.
  • Don’t send buyers away from your site; you’ll lose important data about purchase decisions, offers and your shopping cart.

What’s next?  You can build each of these components into your CMS and CRM systems, or look for an Enterprise Publishing System (EPS) that brings together data capture and management with content management and eCommerce. 

We didn’t say big data HAD to be hard to handle, it's just worth handling.