Beyond the Buzzword: Transforming Predictive Marketing Analytics into Actionable Strategy

Phil Crothers
Chief Marketing Officer
BrightTarget Ltd

Most businesses agree that predictive marketing is the future. In fact, Forrester find that a huge 89% of B2B marketers have predictive on their roadmap.

The issue though, as with all such things, is the country mile between talking the talk and walking the walk.

Many brands are still totally confused about the application of predictive. Like Dan Ariely said of Big Data, “it’s like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it”.

Predictive seems confusing and complicated; better left to other organisations, at least until the technology is more established. After all, there’s nothing like innovation to bring out the fear of risk. Except, the technology is established. There’s a straightforward, proven method to start leveraging predictive for your business – with fast, tangible ROI.

The No Frills Explanation - How Predictive Works

Traditional business intelligence means looking backwards, using the data of what’s happened to construct a meaningful narrative. Smart marketers, data scientists, strategists and business leaders interpret those insights, and use them to inform decisions in the future.

That important shift – from looking backwards to looking forwards – is where data becomes meaningful. And traditionally, we’ve always had to make that shift manually. Which involves a generous element of best-guesswork, unfortunately.

That’s where predictive comes in.

Essentially it’s the same process, but you get AI and machine learning to make the leaps for you, instead of fallible, bias and busy humans.

So that’s predictive in a nutshell: using machine learning and AI to accurately predict your leads and customers’ future behaviour. This insight transforms how you segment, target and engage, and can unlock millions of pounds of untapped revenue from your data.

I know that sounds fantastic, but what does it look like in practice? Let’s look at the implications.

Predictive Analytics: The Midas Touch

Predictive technology turns every customer touchpoint into gold, at every stage of the marketing funnel. The right predictive platform can:

  • Analyse your existing customers to build an ideal customer profile, so you can target the people who’ll mean most for your business.
  • Predict your most valuable leads and prospects, so you can target activity on those most likely to convert. (This isn’t your run-of-the-mill lead scoring. Think lead scoring on steroids – future-based, predictive, and leveraging millions of external data signals in addition to your internal data, to form a more complete picture).
  • Refine your understanding of existing customers, so you can send the right message, to the right people, at the right moments.
  • Identify customers who might churn with enough forewarning that you can address the issue – before it becomes one.
  • Drive revenue growth in existing accounts, by showing you where your best upsell and cross-sell opportunities are.

That’s pretty huge. We’re talking about making the entire marketing function more targeted, more relevant, more effective – and more accountable. No more wasted time. No more miss-the-mark campaigns.

But it might still feel pretty pie-in-the-sky, especially if your marketing function isn’t especially mature.

The good news is, you don’t need a mature marketing function. It doesn’t matter if your data quality isn’t tip-top. It doesn’t matter if your CRM is a mess, or you have a snazzy custom-built job that you think does the job just fine (predictive is miles ahead, we promise). It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have a CRM.

Possible routes to market

Execution looks different for every business, because predictive analytics can simply slot into whatever you already do, on any channel you use.

So, consider these as they’re intended: inspirational examples as opposed dogma.

First, Email.

Predictive analytics can prioritise your leads incredibly accurately, so you can decide which message, tactic and approach is most appropriate. You might deliver a different email campaign to your low-priority versus high-priority leads, for instance, funnelling them through different touchpoints.

Then there’s the growth opportunity. Predictive can empower you to hit your existing customers with the new offer they’ll find most appealing, driving growth and diversifying your income streams.

Or, on the retention side, predictive gives you the insight to make your existing reengagement campaigns pre-emptive. Targeting those people who might become unengaged before they do so, with appropriate messaging to stop their interest waning. That’s pretty cool.

What About Direct Mail?

No longer the saturated market it once was, direct mail offers a genuine opportunity to stand out. The insights generated from predictive marketing analytics can empower you to send more targeted, highly personalised mailshots to a more receptive audience – for higher conversion. Predictive could even help you identify totally new markets, not just new leads within your existing markets.

And SMS Marketing.

Traditionally more of a B2C channel, predictive analytics can help B2B businesses capitalise on the potential of SMS marketing. You could use predictive to send text offer codes – well suited to the immediacy of mobile – to the past customers who’ll be most receptive to them, for instance. Or you could deliver bespoke incentives to customers who are most at risk of not renewing.

Telesales and Telemarketing Too.

Your telesales and telemarketing people can close more business if you send them better qualified leads, ranked by those most likely to buy: that’s what predictive does. That’s true whatever you use the telesales function for, whether delegate sales or subscription sales or anything in between.

Predictive analytics can send prioritised prospect profiles directly via your CRM or call centre software, so your tele-people can seamlessly sell better. It’s about spending time in the right places, where efforts are most likely to convert.

Yes, and Business Development.

Maybe you take a tiered approach to outbound marketing and sales, funnelling top-tier leads through a BDR function. Predictive analytics makes that approach more effective, sifting through your inbound leads and sending the ones most likely to convert through to your BDR reps. Many B2B businesses have a mountain of inbound leads – a nice problem to have, admittedly – and those leads often don’t get put to their best use. Predictive changes that, by ensuring leads are allocated correctly so you can convert them.

Your BDR reps get a steady stream of red-hot leads, and they get more insight about each of those leads to aid their approach. We’re talking a profile calling on millions of internal and external data-signals including buyer intent, demographics, firmographics and lookalike projections. The result? Your business development people can do what they do best, and secure you more business.

Personalised Landing Pages, Let's Talk About That.

Imagine if you could drive leads to a personalised landing page that shows the content and/or offer most relevant and exciting for them. You can, with predictive. If you use a marketing automation platform such as Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua or Communigator, for example, your predictive platform can sync to that and generate personalised landing pages that are more likely to convert.

Similarly, if you are already trading online with B2B e-commerce platforms, predictive analytics helps you optimise your online revenue and profit margins, using predictive insight to fine-tune your product recommendations and pricing strategy.

And the list goes on.

The opportunity is vast, because there’s no route to market predictive can’t improve. You already collect mountains of data – this is about putting it to better use, instead of letting it collect dust in your CRM.

Bring The Future To You, Today

Predictive analytics isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a proven, straightforward technology that integrates with your existing tools and processes to improve your existing marketing strategies. Most businesses collect insane amounts of data, most of which never gets used. Predictive changes that, leveraging what you already know to tell you what the future holds – so you can make better decisions. And you can expect to see ROI very quickly, as your campaigns become rapidly more effective.

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