Looking at Social data from database marketing perspective!

Gary Angel in one of his blog posts alludes to an interesting aspect of using social data from database marketing perspective and I think it raises many intriguing questions.

First of all, if you have been following web analytics thought leadership for a while, you’d have noticed that there are 2 broad schools of thoughts in this space. On one hand you have people like Gary Angel, Jim Novo and Kevin Hillstrom et al. who come from solid database/direct marketing background and they see very insightful similarities in web analytics and database marketing analytics that others don’t. The other school of thought consists of people like Avinash Kaushik, Eric Peterson et al. who do not see much link between other fields and WA. Of course, the page and visitor level data from web analytics hasn’t traditionally lent itself to customer level data, so, those who’ve pursued WA as an entirely new field weren’t entirely wrong. Personally, after having extensively read Gary, Jim and Kevin, I think, it’d be stupid on the part of a web analyst to ignore the knowledge from established fields of direct/database marketing analytics, and more so when the technology to link visitor and customer level data is becoming a reality.



Now on to the original question:
Database marketing folks use survey research and focus group data to design their targeting strategies for various customer segments and since they have the data (demographics, psychographics etc.) for target customers, they don’t face the issue of linking attitudinal data with their targets. In digital world, however, the behavioural segments are mostly anonymous. Gary suggests that social data can bridge this gap and enrich segments that are constructed from website behaviors. However, it’s not clear to me how the website usage meta-data (functionalism) can be easily mapped with the meta-data (topic classification, influencer etc.) of social activity. If he's only talking about the social activity that begins at the website in question, so that website behaviour and social activity can be linked then that’d just be a small part of all possible social activity data. The rest of the social data would be anonymous and liking that anonymous data with the anonymous data from website would be even more challenging. In fact, all time-tested database marketing strategies work based on our ability to isolate behavior at individual levels, so multiple levels of anonymity isn't really going help the cause imho!

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