Are Predictive Analytics Professionals the Futurists of Marketing?

By on April 9, 2019

 Image source: Unsplash

In the world of marketing, finding and catering to your audience is the top goal. The more you can learn about your audience, the more you can give them exactly what they want. This means more sales and customer loyalty for your business. Predictive analytics help marketing departments identify potential customers and analyze behavior in order to influence the business’ future moves.

What Are Predictive Analytics?

Predictive analytics use in-depth customer data to form intelligent predictions about future activity. Data must be continually collected from new customers, as the current generation of customers often influences the next generation. Data regarding demographics, preferences, and behavior should also be collected from customers at every stage of the marketing funnel, from first contact through leads and conversion.

The field of business analytics has evolved over the last few decades, with predictive analytics having revolutionized the field. Turning big data into actionable intelligence has become key to achieving success in the current marketing landscape. As evidenced by the changing curricula at the top schools offering MBAs, the practice of relying on big data and predictive analytics is here to stay.

Using predictive analytics is a different method from forecasting based on historical data. Traditional forecasting methods don’t account for how marketing operations are going to change in the future. Instead, they only look at past trends in order to guess what’s coming. Forecasting is often too simplified, as it doesn’t consider changing processes (like new social media algorithms) or uncertain environments.

What Is a Futurist?

In the data analytics world, a futurist is a professional who can make highly accurate projections up to five years in advance. They do this by analyzing data, and as the quality of data improves (based on how long the company has been collecting data as well as advancing technology), those projections can improve as well.

Futurists don’t simply analyze data to make any and all possibilities. Instead, they analyze data in order to determine the most valuable predictions for the company. If the marketing department’s goals change, the predicted trends should match up with the new goals, not old ones.

Here’s a simple example: a company has been using Pinterest as part of its marketing strategy. Up to this point, future predictions have included Pinterest. However, the marketing department has determined that minimal traffic comes from Pinterest, so they’re going to remove it from the strategy. Even if the company’s futurist can make Pinterest-related predictions, they won’t bother since it won’t be of value to the company. Omitting irrelevant data can streamline predictive analytics, ultimately providing faster access to actionable insights.

Futurists look at what happened in the past, but also why those events took place – why customers made the decisions they did. For example, let’s say a business saw an increase in sales of a particular shoe last year. Based on historical data alone, an analyst may assume that sales will continue to boom. However, a futurist will dig deeper: What led to those sales, and will those particular circumstances be present in the future? If the increase was due to a celebrity wearing the shoes publicly, it’s unlikely they’ll remain popular in the long run. A futurist would know this, and they’d also know to pay attention to what that particular celebrity wears in order to predict future demand.

Predictive Analytics Strategy

Though often used in the trading world, volume analysis can also help marketing departments predict trends. This is an extremely basic way to analyze current trends in order to predict their future, but it’s a good start for beginners in marketing. With volume analysis, you observe a trend to see how popular it is and analyze whether it’s grown or decreased in popularity over time. If it’s grown, it may continue to grow; if it’s been decreasing, it may not be a trend to invest in for the future.

A cornerstone of a predictive analytics strategy is collecting appropriate data. There’s a lot of data that businesses can collect. Tracking and analyzing every bit of data possible would be expensive, time consuming, and too overwhelming to be actionable. Predictive analytics professionals focus on the key performance indicators and data that are most relevant to the company’s primary goals. Furthermore, it’s best if the data collected is handled internally when possible, instead of using a third-party source.

Futurists go way beyond tracking and predicting trends. They formulate a story that relates to the specific business. Futurists aren’t just focused on data; they’re also creative and business savvy, allowing them to create a well-rounded picture of the future. Instead of saying what will happen, futurists create a vision of what could happen. From there, the marketing department can influence the future by making decisions and forming a strategy based on the futurist’s findings.

There’s no question that these vanguards, along with technological innovations in the field of business analytics, are disrupting industries across the board. Predictive analytics professionals are highly valuable to marketing departments. Businesses can decide which products and services to offer, as well as which ones aren’t drawing profit. Cross-sell and up-sell opportunities can be identified, providing more value to the customer and increasing the business’ loyal customers. Companies can also get ahead of the competition by formulating the best strategy for the future.

About Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about marketing, tech, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
Close

Like what you're reading?

Like us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for more!