What do declining marriage rates, America’s most literate cities, and local business reviews have in common? All of these are conclusions that were drawn from the analysis of large datasets.

A recent article in Direct Marketing News, titled Big Data Enables Bigger (and Hopefully Better) Campaigns, claims that we collect data about almost everything – the weather, search engine trends, and even how much it would cost to book your favorite musician. But often, it’s difficult for marketers to make the leap from these piles of raw data to “actionable insight.” So what do we do with all this data to make it useful?

Direct Marketing News writes that any dataset, no matter how large, can be a great resource for marketers – but only if we know how to analyze it properly. The article claims that integrating large datasets into marketing campaigns requires “the right plans and tools” to break down an overwhelming amount of information and find the underlying patterns and trends. These patterns and trends enable marketers to tailor campaigns and place the right content in front of the right audience at the right time. Using Big Data to increase relevance will likely strengthen a brand and lead to increased customer engagement, retention, and loyalty.

Direct Marketing News acknowledges that it is not always obvious how to integrate a dataset into a campaign, and may require “a little more time and creativity to make use of.” DMA offers several resources, including DMA Education workshops and webinars and member communities dedicated to analytics and customer engagement, to help members determine what will best inform their marketing campaigns, whether their consumers are reading reviews of a local business or are in the market to hire their favorite singer to perform at their wedding.

What have been some of your experiences with finding creative ways to use Big Data to inform a marketing campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments below.