The Zen of Big Data: How the Details Help Marketers Promote the Big Idea

Word Cloud "Big Data"As wise marketers have always known, there’s no substitute for inspiration. It’s a human skill — the one that created the Marlboro Man and the Jolly Green Giant, “Just Do It,” “The Quicker Picker Upper,” and “Don’t Leave Home Without It.”

But what even the “Mad Men” of yore struggled to better understand were their customers’ preferences, lifestyles, needs, and motivations. They wanted to know how often and where they bought soap, soup, or socks — and why.

Today, there are answers. They reside in the vast universe of information known as the web and they have united advertisers and the firms that serve them in a serious quest: getting to the bottom of big data.

That’s something companies like Mozenda instinctively understand. A U.S. company that created its name from the words “More Zenful Data,” its mission has been to develop web scraping and data extraction technologies that allow marketers to do what they do best.

“It’s all about knowing your targets,” explains Brett Haskins, CEO of Mozenda. “Big data has become a buzzword, but what it means is more understanding, more knowledge. It’s like Zen, which is derived from a Sanskrit word that means ‘absorption.’ If we can help absorb more data — meaningful information — we can help marketers be the masters of their art.”

Big data — the bits and bytes of information that can be collected when one knows how to aggregate what the web makes available — would have allowed those mad men to forego the many mid-day martinis they hoped would lead to insight. We’re talking big data insight — the massive amounts of real time data that would have allowed them to test their ideas before they hit the papers and the airwaves.

Marketers — both then and now — “look into this vat of data bug-eyed and frothing at the mouth,” notes Jean Spencer at Salesforce. “Why? Because Big Data holds the potential to describe target customers with an accuracy and level of detail unfathomable only a decade ago. While old-school marketing efforts were limited to things like tracking returns on direct mail campaigns, or number of subscribers to newsletters, modern marketers can have data on people’s exercise habits, digital clicking behavior, time spent on various sites, purchasing history, personal preferences based on social media postings, time awake, time spent in the car, caloric intake, and almost anything else you can imagine.”

In a word, that data means marketers can reach prospects based on the kind of knowledge that leads to better engagement, better response, and a better bottom line for businesses.

The companies that build products and sell them are in the marketing business, but not the big data business. That’s why Haskins and his team at Mozenda wanted to solve the problem of creating a software tool that gives non-programmers the ability to quickly and easily extract information from the web. And — no surprise here — the concept of creating a productivity tool rather than another application for the IT department resonated well with Mozenda’s customers.

Today, Mozenda’s “first of its kind” Software as a Service (SaaS) application for performing comprehensive web data gathering (a.k.a web data extraction, screen scraping, web crawling, web harvesting, etc.), and data management helps marketers throughout the world.

According to Spencer, knowing things like how successful a singular blog or social post was at generating revenue are amazing developments.

“Before Big Data that was an unanswerable question,” Spencer explains. “Now, marketers can distill the effectiveness of a marketing push down to a tweet.”

That’s something that Haskins understands. In Zen, there’s a koan about focusing on a single point of light. He and other explorers in the big data business know how to focus.

“At Mozenda, our work involves unearthing a whole lot of information,” Haskins says. “What we do is turn a mountain of data into a moment of clarity. That, more than anything, is what marketers need.”