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Big Data is a big buzzword these days. Everyone wants to know how to leverage it to improve their marketing.

Except, nine times out of ten, when someone asks how to leverage ‘Big Data,’ they really mean they want to analyse their existing dataset (which may be large, but not officially ‘Big Data’) to see where they can improve.

So, first off, what is Big Data? The fine editors at Wikipedia tell us it’s “a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.”

data recovery

It’s generally used to spot large, emerging trends in data – the stuff powering search engine indexing, or processing astronomical data.

Realistically, what we all want to do is get better at using our own, little data; to get better at testing, measuring, and acting on those results.

And one of the simplest ways to get started is by implementing some A/B(C/D/E…) testing for your subject lines and CTAs. Parry just presented a great webinar on how to achieve some big wins with little data if you’d like some more ideas.

Big Data is certainly useful; those annual trend reports that show what huge swaths of people are doing on social networks, or with their smartphones, or how people are shopping online or consuming media, are still important. They inform our strategy, and help us decide where to allocate new marketing resources in the not-so-distant future.

But don’t let the sexiness of Big Data distract you from a rigorous practice of testing, measuring, and making incremental improvements using your little data. After all, what good is a fancy, sexy, Big Data-based strategy, without results to back it up?