Big Data vs. Thick Data: The Road to Data-Driven Marketing
// By Daniel Fell and Dean Browell, PhD //
Marketers shouldn’t overlook the incredibly powerful qualities of qualitative or “thick” data that delivers rich, deep insights and meaning that quantitative data often can’t provide.
Some readers may recall the popular “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign that ran in the early 2000s, a tongue-in-cheek parody of the differences between two popular computing platforms, one robust but slightly complex and one designed to be just as capable but a little easier to use.
Addressing the healthcare marketing professionals at the 28th Annual Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit in Austin, Texas in April, the ad was a good analogy for the way quantitative data, specifically big data, and qualitative or “thick” data as we referred to it, are sometimes viewed across organizations — that these two types of data are not only completely different but also competitive with each other.
Both are important to marketers, and when combined together for deeper analysis and better decision-making, they are even more powerful. Ultimately, both are increasingly essential in today’s fast-paced, data-driven healthcare marketing environment.
While they are inherently unique and do have different properties and applications in marketing, we see them as integrally linked and highly complementary. Marketers who aren’t thinking about using both today miss an opportunity to power smarter data-driven marketing.
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