For many companies today, access to data on client or customer behavior is no longer a challenge. As many marketers have already discovered, in the burgeoning age of Big Data the challenge is often the opposite: a "firehose" of raw data, so unstructured and overwhelming that it goes unapplied to real, concrete problems in your marketing campaign.
This information can be rich with potential insight for your organization, but you have to know how to impose order on the chaos of data by asking the right question and applying the right tools. Moreover, in order to maximize the usefulness of your data, you'll want to undertake a campaign that is predictive, not merely reactive. But what exactly does this mean, and how do you get started?
The road to a predictive campaign
Think about the old school of online marketing wisdom. You track your traffic with web analytics. Maybe you use surveys to calculate the effectiveness of a given campaign. This isn't obsolete – but it's no longer sufficient.
Now companies are acting dynamically based on real-time analytics and decision-making. These predictive analytics empower companies with the turn-on-a-dime agility that is increasingly necessary to compete in today's marketplace.
How do you get started implementing business intelligence and predictive analytics in your marketing campaign?
1. Identify decision makers. You'll want a dedicated team calling the shots in your marketing analytics effort – preferably a company insider grounded in the day-to-day of your business paired with an outside industry expert for objective, third-party insight.
2. Know your goals. Your mantra for managing an analytics-driven marketing campaign should always be: "What are my goals here?" This will drive everything else you do. The biggest analytics mistake many companies make is attempting to leverage the data without a clear, defined purpose.
3. Decide what to ask. Answers aren't good for much without the right questions. Your decision makers will need to identify questions that, once answered, will drive growth and other goals you've defined. You might ask, for example, "Which marketing efforts contributed to the nurture of a particular lead?"
4. Eliminate the guesswork. By asking the right questions and rigorously analyzing your data, you'll be able to determine – often in real-time – what works and what doesn't within each of your marketing channels. This means your marketing campaign doesn't waste time and money on stabs in the dark.
5. Discover the Grand Unified Theory for your marketing. For physicists, the Holy Grail is a consistent theory that comprehensively accounts for the mechanics of the universe. You need to uncover the same thing for your marketing campaign, finding the coherent set of trends and behaviors that speaks to every channel of your marketing efforts.
How do economic, social, and technological market forces align in your campaign? How do customers' brick-and-mortar activity relate to online traffic? These are the questions you will look to your marketing analytics to answer. And with a successful analytics strategy, you'll be positioned to respond predictively and dynamically to a rapidly changing marketplace.