Put Big Data to Work


What do websites, social media accounts, inventory counts, and heat maps have in common? They all compile into a treasure chest of data. Every time you sift through its contents and find that perfect gem of a statistic, you’re given a unique insight into consumer habits. The trouble is identifying which data will benefit your overall objective and not leave you overwhelmed and confused.

There’s no question that Big Data and analytics are transforming marketing. It doesn’t make marketing more strategic, it makes it more precise. Data goes beyond vanity metrics to provide a holistic view of a consumer journey. How social content performs, likes, shares, KPI, and engagement rates are all important… but does it really encompass the consumer journey? We need to look past content performance and be able to visualize extended data to help measure the success of social in a business context.

Back in 2009, Google’s Chief Economist Dr. Hal R. Varian stated, “The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.” Well, Dr. Varian … it’s 2016 and your assessment couldn’t be more accurate.

What data is out there?

  • Primary Data: Information directly provided from the source — potential customers. Gather this information via surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. Conducting primary research can determine two things: a specific problem and a solution to said problem.

  • Secondary Data: Primary research done by a third party. Oracle, for example, came out with a recent study, Millennials and Hospitality: The Redefinition of Service. The study highlights how technology has altered consumer expectations and presented hospitality operators opportunities to win millennials that weren’t known before.

  • Social Listening: Monitor what people are saying online about your brand, your competitors, and other topics of interest. Here are some examples of how you can use social listening to generate leads, discover advocates and influencers, improve customer care, and provide feedback on products.

  • Website Data: Includes insight of who is visiting your website, where they are coming from, how long they stay on your site, which pages were viewed, bounce rate, and source of traffic. All this can be accessed for free with Google Analytics.

  • Offline Data: CRM datafiles, data bought from vendors, retail transactions from credit card networks, and offline catalog transactions. This data enables and improves the ability to reach high-value prospects across all channels and devices.

  • Social Analytics: According to Simply Measured, social analytics “is a system that allows for the collection, aggregation, and standardization of social media data to discover and communicate meaningful patterns.” This data will help with planning and measuring in the marketing process.

Why do we need data?

With new technologies rapidly transforming the consumer funnel, brands need additional insight to see what the actual impact is on their business. Was it the product or message that increased engagement rates? Was it the influencer or the campaign that decreased engagement? Data explains what part of your approach needs to change and what doesn’t. Marketing guru Peter Drucker said it best, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Knowing a consumer “liked” a photo is great, but what did they do after? Did they buy? Did they sign up? Did they register? These are the questions extended data will answer. To accurately measure ROI, there needs to be a definitive connection that will attribute final revenue to a specific campaign. After consumer behavior is characterized, it’s time to combine data points and create a holistic view of the consumer journey.

How do we put data to work?

Before you even touch the data, the right team must be assembled to execute the objective effectively. Starting with a data collection expert who defines the sources of the data by looking through research reports, census reports, or conducting primary research. Next in line is the data scientist who analyzes and determines trends found. This is where context must be taken into consideration. Are trends happening because of seasonal effects or are they happening because of global/national issues? Play your own devil’s advocate when deriving trends, and consider all possible effects. To tie all the information together, bring in a data strategist to bridge the abstract world of marketing with the logical world of data.

Here’s how we utilized data for one of our clients:

UNIQLO’S OBJECTIVE: Increase overall engagement of audience.

UPTOWN TREEHOUSE’S APPROACH: We conducted primary research to define Uniqlo’s audience using Affinio. It highlighted four different tribes of social users that made up more than 50 percent of the audience. With secondary research, we classified the four groups into millennial personas: fashionistas, streetwear/sneaker culture, moms into main-stream media, and stylish men.

Affinio gave us insight into how each cluster behaves by identifying who they follow, what content they engage with, and possible connections between each group. From that data, we designed content that spoke to each audience, and identified intersection points. Instead of running a broad campaign and hoping for the best, we focused on the specific audience that would have the greatest ripple effect.

Social listening defined why each cluster resonates with Uniqlo. For fashionistas, the Liberty London campaign speaks to the idea of being ahead of the fashion curve. For streetwear culture, they resonate with the social responsibility aspect of Uniqlo, and sneakerheads appreciate the simplicity of the clothing, because it accentuates a prized possession… their kicks. Uniqlo’s Activewear and Airism is what attracts moms since they need clothing that is as versatile as their lifestyle. As for stylish men, collaborations like Uniqlo X Theory provided affordable, simple basic wear that matches with fashion statement pieces.


To activate engagement from all four groups, we needed the golden piece of content that would accomplish that goal. Here is where the social circle comes in, because it flows with the cyclical nature of data. By scientifically utilizing data at every level , we determined one product that would reach the greater audience: joggers. Why? For the fashionistas and stylish men, joggers are an “in piece.” For sneakerheads, the pants are affordable so money can go to shoes instead. For moms, joggers can be worn from day to night without compromising comfort or style. We were able to identify a product that maximized engagement and minimized production, all thanks to Big Data.

Traditionally, our industry tends to focus on the most visible data, but people today interact with hundreds of brands in a multitude of ways. It takes balance and the ability to interpret habits within context to truly detail a consumer journey. Each touchpoint is more than a data point; they link all the pieces together that create the total brand experience.

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