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Are you drowning in data but don’t have enough useful information? Most companies today are encountering big data problems. (Big data is the term used to describe all the analytical information collected from digital content.) A book on digital marketing would not be complete without a discussion of data. But before you look at specific content measurements, you need to understand the impact technology has had on data and the opportunities and problems it presents. In today’s marketplace, data plays a key role in every part of your online business and is critical to your success.

The good news is that both small and large companies can collect the data they need to make smart decisions. The bad news is that so much data gets collected that making sense of it can be hard. In this chapter, you look at the types of data that are available to you to gather, and the problems you may run into when trying to harness their value.

The first instance of the use of the phrase big data was said to have been used in a paper written by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1997.

Big data is a valuable commodity for marketing. It lets you see data patterns that you may have missed and allowed you to make predictions about the content your customers want. But you need to ask yourself a question before you launch a big data effort. That is, what are the business goals for the data you are collecting?

Your content needs to tie into your overall business goals — and your big data effort needs to tie in as well. You want to be sure that the questions you want your data to answer are crucial to the success of the business itself.

Big data collection and analysis can be expensive. Your company will quickly sour on the effort if it doesn’t deliver on its promise to increase revenue and satisfy customers.