Why having a data layer is crucial to tackling your Big Data problem.

Is anyone else just a little sick of the term ‘Big Data’? For many of us as marketers it’s something we’ve heard about, something that we know we ought to address, but it’s something we just can’t get our heads around. And every time we hear or read the phrase it gnaws away at us, making you think “I really need to sort this out.” 

We’ve all heard the compelling reasons for collecting this data – that it’s the only way of understanding different types of visitors to your site, and how you can turn a visitor into a customer – and most of us are collecting this information, even if it’s unconscious. The problem comes in how do you process the data.

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For me, as someone non-technical, a phrase like “processing data” always makes my face go blank. “Yeah, sure, let’s process the data, whatever that means…”. But, the issue is that every source of information – whether it’s your digital analytics, stock information, email marketing client, CRM system and so on – uses a different, and incompatible data process, meaning that trying to get one single view of the customer can be tricky.

This is something we have been addressing along with IBM, Google, Marin, Adobe, Tealium, and many others, in driving adoption of our W3C digital data standard. This means that everything feeding into your data is constructed in the same way, allowing different silos to ‘talk’ to each other, and to be processed in the same way.

This is where a data layer is so important. It allows you to bring all this information from the variety of sources at your disposal, and have it in a format where you can start to process it. This is why we’ve built Universal Variable to format your information, and our Visitor Cloud to give you the ability to get a singular view of your visitors and customers.

By collecting as much information as possible, and processing it through a data layer, you can start to find the answers to the questions you have, and then find answers to questions you never thought you’d ask! It’s the idea of the ‘unknown unknown’, and with a data layer that brings all this information together you can begin to dig a little deeper to find those X factors that makes a user a bit more likely to convert.

If you can exploit these X factors, you can adapt your site to tailor it to different segments of users and ultimately make each individual more likely to convert. In that way, you’ll have tackled your big data problem, and you’ll have a positive outcome for your business. But the only way you can do this is with a data layer.

If you need some inspiration for how to look at your digital analytics to try and find insights, and these X factors, check out the Truth About Data community that we are building with our partners, BrooksBell and iAB?