From getting the most accurate weather forecast for your weekend trip to tracing the most efficient route for your morning commute, predicting the future is something you do on a small scale every day. Being able to see ahead is even more important for your organization, letting you spot nascent trends, build the necessary infrastructure for growth, and enjoy more successful lead generation. Predicting the future is possible today, but only if you have the right tools to see what lies ahead. Marketing automation technology is the best tool we have for gaining insight into an organization’s future.
Following the Trail
When a lead visits your site, how much do you know about your visitor? Is the lead a new arrival or a returning prospect? Where did he or she come from? What pages piqued the most interest? How long did your lead stay on the site? Taken together, these individual data points define a lead’s trajectory through your content. The speed and angle of the lead’s journey answers those questions and more with such precision that you’re then able to predict where he or she is likely to go next.
The Buying Journey
There’s a reason marketers are fond of the metaphor of buying decisions as a journey. Like a journey, buying decisions have a beginning, middle, and end. A journey doesn’t always have a set destination in mind, but the end result of a buying journey is already known: an effective solution to a lead’s problem. For you, the ideal destination for a buying journey is a purchase. The key, then, is to align your lead’s goals with yours so you take the journey together. To accomplish that, you need the foresight marketing automation gives you to create nurture programs to guide leads to sales readiness.
While historical data tells you where your customers have been, big data analytics that are part of marketing automation technology can shed light on where they’re headed. Certain behaviors are closely linked with certain outcomes – downloading a white paper or attending a webinar, for instance, would signal a higher degree of sales readiness than a 4-second stay on your website. Sometimes these correlations are subtle; they aren’t always as obvious as the previous example. Intent data analytics monitor aggregate information and highlight these subtler data interactions. With marketing automation, you’re able to see not only the broader strokes but also the finer details of your leads’ buying journeys.
Another way in which marketing automation gives you a glimpse of the future is with buyer personas. Refined from composite data, a buyer persona is a representative image of a specific customer type. Personas often align with audience segments; you could even think of them as the personification of a segment. You might not be able to predict a single buyer’s decisions with total accuracy because you don’t control all the variables that go into that decision, but with a customer persona you control, you can understand a good deal more about how your audience as a whole will progress toward a buying decision.
Putting Predictions to Work
Predictive power helps your leads as much as it helps you. With better predictive models from your marketing automation system, you’re able to give you leads what they want at every step of the decision-making process.
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