If the saying “knowledge is power” has any bearing on the world of article writing and content marketing, then tapping into “Big Data” can easily stand out as the biggest weapon in your arsenal. Considering that Manju Bansal of MIT’s Technology Review reports that the total amount of data on the web will grow to around 44 zettabytes by 2020, at a rate of 1.7 megabytes a second, it’s safe to say that the Big Data field is definitely packing some firepower.

Unfortunately for many brands out there, trying to put this weapon to good use on the digital front is a lesson in frustration and wasted potential. To ensure you’re not letting the rest of your industry pass you by with content refined and optimized via Big Data integration, let’s take a moment to break down the particulars of this tool, as well as where it fits into your content needs going forward.

What the Heck Is Big Data and Why Does It Matter?

If you’re sitting at your desk wondering just what the heck Big Data is, don’t worry; you’re not alone. As Forbes magazine’s Edd Dumbill explains in his overview of this ever-growing digital field, Big Data is simply a term that describes seemingly unimaginable amounts of data and collated information. In this case, these sets of information tell the story of your targeted audience from virtually every viewpoint and perspective on the web.

So how big is big? Dumbill notes that Big Data sets often exceed the processing capacity of conventional databases and grows at an accelerated or even exponential rate. Essentially, this means that while Big Data offers up powerful insight into the lives of the people that matter most to your brand – primarily thanks to information garnered by social media and even mobile devices – making use of this at times unwieldy tool isn’t always easy, especially for those who are new to the world of laying out content marketing strategies.

Getting the Most out of This Tool

Now that you understand that Big Data is a tool that can help set up detailed and accurate consumer profiles, which in turn guide your content development, but that it’s far from simple to integrate into your current approach, it’s time to talk about easing your transition into a world defined by this kind of data. For starters, aligning your brand with a content professional who understands how to translate consumer insight into engaging and value-driven content is a step in the right direction.

From this point, Julie Fleischer – the Head of Content, Data, and Media for Kraft Foods Group – suggests keeping the ball rolling with some clever acquisition and database maintenance tactics. During her time on stage at the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing 2014 expo, Fleischer suggested that instead of thinking of your content development and data insight operations as separate entities, your brand should aim for the shared ground between the two.

Whether this means gating a white paper or other premium content behind a survey, or installing a questionnaire as part of your email contact list sign-up process, you can ensure that your brand has a bead on exactly who spends time checking out its content, as well as what they’re interested in going forward.

Outside of harvesting new data and adding it to any current Big Data sets that your brand owns or leases, Fleischer has one final piece of advice – don’t be afraid to let the trends held within this information guide your content direction. By letting go of what you expect the data to tell you, and instead allowing the stats and insight held within point to the subject matter and style that best fits your audience’s needs, you’ll not only drive up page traffic and engagement, but build a deeper bond with these viewers. Regardless of whether you walk this path alone or connect with a team of article writing experts who have been around the Big Data block before, it’s hard to argue against the appeal of this kind of outlook.