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Mine the Dark Data, You Must

Posted on the 08 January 2015 by Marketingtango @marketingtango
  • January 8, 2015
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Mine the Dark Data, You Must

Inside marketing circles these days, ‘dark’ data (a subset of ‘big data’) is getting a lot of industry press. But often, the discussion centers on how brainiac data scientists crunch advanced software algorithms and computer-aided linguistics to extract intelligence from sprawling enterprise server farms, leaving dark data’s application for small-business as hazy and mysterious as a Dagobahn swamp.

IT research and advisory giant, Gartner, defines dark data as “the information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.

Your small business may not have a large or complex enterprise. But chances are you have rich veins of actionable but untapped data just waiting to be discovered and transformed into insights that can help fuel your company’s growth.

For businesses truly intent on learning, even a modest mining effort could yield new sources and nuggets. But short of hiring your own squad of high-dollar data wienies, your foray into the dark will likely be simpler and more homegrown.

An article by mail technology solutions provider Pitney Bowes mentions several potential dark data sources that should be accessible to most non-enterprise size companies, all of which we encourage you to visit (or revisit) with a fresh eye for opportunity:

  • Recent surveys–Even if you’ve already analyzed them, go back and review surveys again. Assign new meaning to what was said (and left unsaid). Did questions produce the information you wanted? Where there any commonalities among responses? Anything you overlooked before? Any surprises? Is a follow-up survey in order?
  • Emails and Eform fields–What information are respondents most hungry for?
    Are there recurring themes, inquires or topics of interest? Any repeated terms you could potentially use as keywords or blog topics? Which materials were most requested?
  • Customer care and complaint logs or transcripts–Smart companies review these telltale records regularly.  Properly kept, they can help you uncover and fix shortcomings in customer relations, product quality, brand building and overall satisfaction. A renewed emphasis on gleaning useful data from all customer touch points can only help your company.
  • Social media comments and online reviews–Monitoring these sources for prevailing sentiments about your company is easy and, best of all, free (tips here). If you’re not spending at least a few hours weekly analyzing this information, you’re missing one of the richest marketing opportunities around.

By their nature, large digital enterprises generate vast quantities of dark data. But even in a small business there is an unseen universe of customer insight, right within your reach.  Harness its power and enlightened you will become.

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