Database marketing can take the information you already have about your audience and derive incredibly useful insights from it, but what can it tell you about the future? That’s the question respondents to B2B Marketing’s latest Data Skills Benchmarking Report really want to answer. In the report, a little over a quarter of the marketers polled ranked their current data-driven marketing analytics as “good” or “excellent” at making predictions. Given how quickly marketing realities shift in the digital age, that’s not a strong enough performance record.
Great Data In, Great Predictions Out
How do B2B companies harness the predictive power of their database marketing tools? It starts with building a strong foundation of data. Programmers and IT techs have long had a saying about data: “garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, feeding bad data into a system gives less than helpful results. Your first step, then, is to develop a sound data warehousing strategy that relies on clean, current data. It needs to be able to verify and sort new data as it comes in, too, so records stay clean. Finally, data hygiene operations such as merge/purge and de-dupe processes need to happen frequently.
History Is on Your Side
The insights you’ve gotten in the past from your data are essential to making actionable predictions about your future marketing possibilities. Time is your ally when it comes to database marketing; the longer your history, the more information your database services team has to make forecasts and predictions. That’s why it’s imperative to catch the wave now, if you haven’t already, and implement database marketing software now so you start collecting information as soon as possible. To update an old proverb, the best time to get a database marketing system in place was ten years ago; the second best time is today.
Better Models, Better Predictive Power
Database services aren’t a set-and-forget solution; they need sound data governance plans. Using new statistical modeling techniques, refining demographic analytics, and understanding behavioral signals all play a role in enhancing the predictive capacity of your data. Big-data technology is an evolving science, one that’s constantly improving and delivering more accurate predictions – but only when your database management is sound. The story of your organization’s growth is there, but you need the right database services to read it.
Telling a Story
Speaking of stories, the marketers polled also felt that creating a narrative was one of the weaker aspects of their database marketing activities, yet it’s a critical part of what data does for you. Marketers talk of a buying journey, but they could as easily talk of a customer’s story – one with a beginning, a middle, and a “happily ever after” buying decision at the end. Assemble demographic and behavioral data into a narrative involving that customer account, and you can track decision-making choices over time. When you see the twists and turns in one customer journey, you’re able to anticipate them in others, generating true predictive power.
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