Business intelligence analysts, marketers, and analytics mavens use many tools and techniques to extract useful information from all the meaningful data people generate every moment in every aspect of life.

I work with data every day, and I get great satisfaction from mining data to make things (like our clients' marketing programs) better.

Not everyone needs or wants to be an expert, however, and building expertise in data mining can be a struggle. Experts often confuse more than enlighten. But everyone should have an idea of what data analysts do. That knowledge can help you understand what data mining can and can't do.

Data mining is a science. That means we can repeat our successful analyses and use the results to become more effective and efficient at meeting our goals. All we really need is the recipe.

In the real world of business, the theory is not as important as getting accurate results. Data mining can resolve many of the questions and problems that arise in your daily marketing challenges.

A Cookbook Approach to Data Mining

Using a cookbook approach, even relative beginners can identify solutions by following step-by-step instructions.

Sometimes, the recipes can be very complex. For example, a direct marketer would be very interested in knowing how to find and address the right number of suspects or prospects for a special offer to optimize conversion rate and ROI. That's what our agency did for Volkswagen in China, the US, and Europe. We made a recipe that included all the data we collect—including behavioral, transactional, and self-reported data from social sites, from marketing campaigns and, with VW owners, even from their cars.

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image of Andrea Ahlemeyer-Stubbe

Andrea Ahlemeyer-Stubbe is the author of A Practical Guide to Data Mining for Business and Industry and director of Strategic Analytics at HackerAgency, a global direct marketing agency with expertise across all media channels and a focus on the metrics that matter.

LinkedIn: Andrea Ahlemeyer-Stubbe