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Taking Small Steps into Big Data

Moving into big data can seem like a big step for any association, but the rewards are certainly worth it.

Big data refers to any set of data that is too big to analyze using standard office software, like a spreadsheet. Large amounts of data are gathered, for example, from website metrics or social media profiles. By analyzing the data, an association can learn things such as:

  • What topics their members enjoy
  • When their social media or blog posts get the best responses
  • The demographics of their visitors

And so much more. Big data means mining valuable information about your members and using that information to deliver more of what they want, building a good relationship with them, and fostering loyalty. So how can your association get started in big data without breaking the bank or giving your team members a headache?

Decide What You Need

The best way to start with big data is in fact to start small. Not in terms of the amount of data, but in terms of your focus. Pick one area where you could use some extra insights and target all your efforts there to begin with. Say for example you want to find out more about how your website visitors behave – start there and focus on that.

Decide How to Get it

Once you know where you are going to focus your first big data efforts, you can decide how to get the data you need. Depending on what you want to learn, your big data could come from several different sources:

  • Social media metrics such as Facebook Insights
  • Google Analytics
  • Information harvested from web forms
  • Data from CRM systems
  • Website visitor stats

Decide What to Do Next

Once you have your data, you need to decide what to do with it. By knowing what you’re looking for and how you are going to store and analyze it, you will make your transition into big data much easier. Knowing what to do next isn’t only about knowing what to look for though – decide what you are going to do with the information once you get it. Perhaps you want visitors to your site to subscribe to your mailing list? Then look at where visitors typically click away and focus on what you can do to keep their attention. Be sure to build in a strong review system so you can see for yourself how big data has helped you.

Decide to Get Everyone on Board

By now you might be wondering if your association is going to need a special data analyst. In fact, you will find a lot of useful skills among your existing staff. From that one person who’s an absolute whiz with databases to the quick thinker who can always see the big picture, start by looking at the talent your association already has.

Big data doesn’t have to be daunting. By focusing and starting small you can take your first steps into big data and take advantage of the big insights it offers.

Taking Small Steps into Big Data

Moving into big data can seem like a big step for any association, but the rewards are certainly worth it.

Big data refers to any set of data that is too big to analyze using standard office software, like a spreadsheet. Large amounts of data are gathered, for example, from website metrics or social media profiles. By analyzing the data, an association can learn things such as:

  • What topics their members enjoy
  • When their social media or blog posts get the best responses
  • The demographics of their visitors

And so much more. Big data means mining valuable information about your members and using that information to deliver more of what they want, building a good relationship with them, and fostering loyalty. So how can your association get started in big data without breaking the bank or giving your team members a headache?

Decide What You Need

The best way to start with big data is in fact to start small. Not in terms of the amount of data, but in terms of your focus. Pick one area where you could use some extra insights and target all your efforts there to begin with. Say for example you want to find out more about how your website visitors behave – start there and focus on that.

Decide How to Get it

Once you know where you are going to focus your first big data efforts, you can decide how to get the data you need. Depending on what you want to learn, your big data could come from several different sources:

  • Social media metrics such as Facebook Insights
  • Google Analytics
  • Information harvested from web forms
  • Data from CRM systems
  • Website visitor stats

Decide What to Do Next

Once you have your data, you need to decide what to do with it. By knowing what you’re looking for and how you are going to store and analyze it, you will make your transition into big data much easier. Knowing what to do next isn’t only about knowing what to look for though – decide what you are going to do with the information once you get it. Perhaps you want visitors to your site to subscribe to your mailing list? Then look at where visitors typically click away and focus on what you can do to keep their attention. Be sure to build in a strong review system so you can see for yourself how big data has helped you.

Decide to Get Everyone on Board

By now you might be wondering if your association is going to need a special data analyst. In fact, you will find a lot of useful skills among your existing staff. From that one person who’s an absolute whiz with databases to the quick thinker who can always see the big picture, start by looking at the talent your association already has.

Big data doesn’t have to be daunting. By focusing and starting small you can take your first steps into big data and take advantage of the big insights it offers.

John Foley, Jr

John Foley, Jr. is President and CEO of interlinkONE. interlinkONE provides software and marketing services for associations and professional societies to generate prospective member leads, increase engagement, and strengthen member retention. John is a renowned international speaker who passionately speaks to associations in the areas of transformation, multi-channel marketing, social media, mobile, and content marketing. Some notable association affiliations include Mr. Foley’s involvement as a board member and acting CMO for the recently merged Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP) and National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), as well as his membership with the Business Marketing Association and American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He often takes part in the weekly Twitter chat for associations, "#assnchat,” and contributes content to many industry resources. Learn more about John at http://JohnFoleyJr.com, and how interlinkONE can help you at http://interlinkONE.com and http://MarketWithMAX.com.