The amount of data out there about individuals and businesses is vast. For any company, there’s an opportunity to gain a real insight into their customers’ behaviour and therefore to improve their marketing efforts.

Predictive analytics is just one tool that’s being used increasingly by marketing teams. But one expert recently suggested that marketers need to be careful how much they rely on it.

Writing for Inside Big Data, CMO at TechTarget John Steinert explained that predictive analytics should always be used with a degree of caution.

While it can provide useful insights, he stressed that the technology is only as good as the data that’s fed into it, commenting that “nothing is foolproof”.

Mr Steinert noted that it can be especially difficult for those working in B2B to use predictive analytics to their advantage, because there will be gaps in their knowledge and the information that’s missing is what’s required to ensure precise targeting of prospects.

He cited the example of discovering that a business prospect has searched for the term ‘marketing automation technology’. However, he explained that this doesn’t tell you who specifically at the business carried out that search, or help you work out the most effective way to make contact with them.

The key to getting over this hurdle is using strong intent data, rather than more broad-based intent data, Mr Steinert stated.

“Strong intent data provides better results in less time than a predictive model alone, ensuring a higher ROI and greater buy-in from your sales teams,” he asserted. The message is that predictive analytics should be one of your marketing tools, but not the only marketing tool you rely on.

However, an article for IT Pro Portal earlier this month pointed out that many marketers still aren’t embracing predictive analytics, instead viewing it as technology of the future.

The article suggested that using predictive analytics when mapping customer journeys is an excellent way to start getting to grips with the technology, and an opportunity to start “connecting digital breadcrumbs that aren’t readily apparent otherwise”.

This can help you identify the various pathways consumers may take through your website to reach the information they’re looking for or to get to the stage where they’re making a transaction.

Using data in this way can help to optimise marketing campaigns, in turn improving the results and ROI for marketers in any sector.

According to the news provider, there are various points at which you can apply predictive analytics to your work. Content is one area, not only allowing you to work out which content performs best, but also to present the optimum content to a customer at any point in their journey.

You can also use predictive analytics to identify the most promising leads, allowing your sales teams to focus on the people or businesses who are most likely to convert.

By using all the tools at their disposal, smart marketers can “create competitive advantages through modeling and validating, measuring and optimising the customer journey”, the news provider asserted.

If you and your business are struggling to get to grips with all the new technology available, working with a performance marketing agency could be advisable to embed good practices in your teams and show them how predictive analytics and other tools like AI and machine learning can be of use to them.

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