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The past few years have resulted in an explosion of big data collection and storage, now open to the public. Many businesses don’t realize the incredible power of this untapped resource. Gathered and stored by government agencies, big retailers like Google, and Amazon and even social media, this information is ripe for the taking. What public data offers is context when combined with customer information you have already collected.

What is Public Data Exactly?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws made thousands of types of data sets publicly accessible. Things like arrest records, real estate, pharmaceuticals, warrants, lawsuits, visa applications, driving records, demographic information and so much more are readily available for anyone to search and find online. Public data is stored in a variety of formats from CDs, paper records, to vast online databases with powerful search engines.

The buzzword used to be “big data” but has transitioned to open or public data. Both mean the same thing; huge databases filled with millions of raw open data records that you can use for a variety of purposes.

Getting Value Out of Public Data

Most businesses are using public data to create customized marketing strategies and buyer personas. By combining open data such as demographics, personal preferences, family situations, real estate holdings, and legal issues with their buying profiles, companies can get very specific about who their customers are and how best to market products and services to them. The process of combining public data with proprietary information creates much richer customer profiles and opens up the door to very specific targeted marketing campaigns.

Another valuable purpose for using public data is protection and compliance. You can use publicly available data to confirm information and make sure what you were given is accurate and up-to-date. Verification is helpful when hiring staff and contractors. No one can hide from the Internet and what you uncover online might save you thousands of dollars down the road.

Timing: Gathering The Most Relevant Data

Although many companies use historical data for predictive analysis when it comes to putting together marketing strategies you want fresh, reliable data from reputable sources that match up with your specific needs.

One way to ensure you are getting the most “hot off the presses data” is to use online public records. Various portals collect and organize data to make it very easy for you to search and pull reports of all kinds. You can even download data sets from some sources. You can then use database tools and analytics to connect the pieces and form a hypothesis and come to a conclusion about your ideal customers.

In your searches make sure you use date ranges or criteria that limit your results to only the freshest, most relevant data for your purpose.

Understanding Your Consumers

Compiling a detailed profile of your customer is one of the most critical aspects of successful marketing. Public data makes this possible but companies can get overwhelmed with so much information and not know what to do with it once they have it. The best approach is to identify your needs and what you want to get out of it. Then find a few concentrated data streams that provide the essential details you are looking for and use only those. You don’t need to oversaturate with too much data and then spend thousands on data experts to mine the information for anything usable. A tighter focus now will result in the more efficient use of the data you collect and connect with your existing market research.

Understanding the core mindset of your perfect customers will help you target them specifically and more effectively with ads that zero in on their lifestyle choices, preferences and desires. The better you know your audience, the more apt they are to hear your message and take quick action that results in sales. When you know your customers inside and out, it opens the pathway for the promotion of increased revenue streams and repeats business. Knowing what is important to your buyers will help you structure your customer service department appropriately. Happy customers come back again and again.

Other Uses For Public Data

Public data comes in handy for so many business-related endeavors. You can check review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and even social media to check out the competition and see what they are doing right or doing wrong. You can then adjust your business practices accordingly and also develop marketing campaigns based on the feedback from reviewers.

Public data isn’t going anywhere, and it is being collected and stored faster than we can process it. In the coming years, there will most likely be even more innovative ways for businesses to connect to and use public data that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.

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