Once the hottest topic dominating every marketing expo and content forum, “big data” has become like white noise to most marketers.

Big data on its own might be so last year, but marketers are waking up to what’s called “predictive marketing”, the newer, smarter big data.

With predictive marketing, marketers are looking at that same data differently. It’s still about extracting intelligence from big data in order to predict future outcomes, be it the impact on pipeline or contribution to sales. Effectively, predictive analytics moves marketing from a cost centre and ROI mentality to a profit centre, based on forward thinking demand management.

Predictive analytics:  2 Areas of Focus
Pre-campaign analytics, where ‘predictive’ = better and smarter targeting

This means mapping existing customers to ideal target prospects and those with the highest propensity to buy from you. What used to be called segmentation and targeting can now be done with greater analytics. Indeed, we have a dedicated services in this area.

Oracle is investing in this space with the purchase of BlueKai. BlueKai helps users gather big data to analyse and predict who will become likely customers. In doing so, they have invented a whole new approach to media planning and media spend. The focus of BlueKai is unlocking the value to enable data driven marketing.

Post campaign analytics, where ‘predictive’ = forecasting outcomes

Forget ROI. ROI is historical, and the new focus is on predictive or forecasted. This is the ability to make bold but logical claims based on past activities and outcomes. To be able to forecast or predict marketer’s contribution to revenue (or at least to the funnel) is so much more powerful than reporting on outputs.The great thing about MA is that many organisations are only waking up to the ability to run campaigns continuously. Our joint customer Dell/Trend has been running the same fully automated campaign in 9 countries and 7 languages for 4 years continuously now. Such strategic thinking and sustained activity means that campaign outcomes can now be forecasted.

How are companies practising and applying predictive marketing?

Here are five ways smart companies are starting to approach predictive marketing:

  1. Focus on outcomes not output: Marketers are moving away from just reporting the ‘so–what’ metrics of open-rates and click thrus to reporting on KPIs such as ‘contribution to the pipeline’.
  2. Focus on back end digital infrastructure not front end digital identity: The smarter markets are realising that the marketing cloud starts with the backend infrastructure and not the front end content and brand design. Content is a fashion item, a tactic, but you can’t scale through content and you aren’t guaranteed boardroom credibility with it.
  3. Ban spreadsheets: This is a follow on from the point above, but the rigour of trying to ban spreadsheets means organisations become more reliant on systems and processes that can scale or provide a closed loop rather than run on creative but tactical outputs. Too many business are still run on email and spreadsheets, which is a pretty lamentable state of affairs. Get strategic and build something to outlast you and to scale.
  4. Focus on being relevant to the business - not adjacent to it: It is ok to be busy, marketers love being busy but it can also be very tactical. Focus on the big picture, focus on how to make money, save money or to bring greater entrenchment for the business. It really is that simple.
  5. Put effort into real time business dashboarding and predictive analytics (more on this in our next post).
Inbound marketing and predictive marketing

The concepts of inbound marketing and predictive marketing go hand in hand. Stay tuned for our next post for more information.