B2B marketers have long faced the strenuous task of proving the impact of their work. Though it remains one of the most daunting aspects of the job, demonstrating ROI is becoming easier thanks to marketing technology and, specifically, predictive analytics. At this point, most CMOs have at least toyed with the idea of launching a predictive analytics-driven marketing plan. As a CMO myself, I’ve had to consider the risks. Is this doable? Is this cost-effective? Can we prove ROI? As CMO of a predictive analytics software business, I’ve had unique access to game-changing technology enabling me to overcome these hesitations and see the value.
The fact is, predictive analytics platforms that go beyond the prediction and actually operationalize those predictions yield serious results. And the best part is, those results are tangible and measurable in the form of improved conversion rates at each stage of the sales funnel. Predictive data that can drive and automate marketing tactics and inform sales outreach can be a game changer for marketers, helping them to improve their outcomes – and to measure and report those outcomes.
The Untapped Power of Predictive
The behemoths of the B2C world have long been run by algorithms. Amazon and other data-centered companies have left little market share for those who fail to pivot to an algorithm-focused model of customer engagement. For some reason, the B2B world is not quite there yet, but there’s reason to believe that early adopters will prosper and technophobes will fall behind.
Marketing, sales and customer success departments may be intrigued by the idea of predictive analytics but fear risking the expense and the time it takes to train the algorithm. After all, it’s no secret that success across those three roles relies on demonstrating ROI. Many marketing executives may be understandably hesitant to try and fail, or they may fear not having the runway to complete the task.
The reality, however, is that one of the best investments for producing short- and long-term returns for marketers – and sales and customer success teams for that matter – is predictive analytics, but it requires a bit of patience. Fine-tuning an algorithm is a long-term strategy that pays dividends over time. Predictive analytics yield incredibly powerful intent data: first-party data from website visits and customer lookalikes, second-party data derived from responses to marketing and sales touchpoints, and third-party data from partner data providers. Combined with historic data, this intent data leads to significant ROI for marketers, as it helps them to better understand leads.
Marketers can utilize this profound data to more accurately map the buyer journey and more effectively target marketing and sales. For instance, marketers should bring predictive analytics to the next level by building on predictions to test the effectiveness of their content and offers against the predictions and buyer journey stages. They should also re-map their customer engagement strategy by aligning more closely with sales to ensure rapid engagement for customers showing high levels of pre-purchase research. Additionally, marketers should operationalize predictive by measuring conversion across sub-segments and tactics to determine the best mix of engagement strategies.
Software Meets Services
Seeing results from predictive analytics software becomes easier and faster when marketers combine the knowledge gained from software with strategic, thoughtful and well-executed account-based marketing programs. Predictive analytics and ABM are perfect complements, particularly when the two can inform one another in real time. Machine learning allows for continuously smarter predictions and, in turn, continuously smarter marketing and sales tactics and executions, which ideally result in a higher percentage of new customers and even larger average deal sizes over time. Learning occurs as second-party data, customers’ responses to marketing and sales outreach, provides a deeper understanding of the tactics and touches that are moving the needle with an account. For example, within a predictive analytics platform, response data from an email campaign might trigger the identification and retargeting of appropriate accounts with relevant and personalized banner ads.
ABM services should be rooted in predictions. For instance, predictive analytics can support marketers in refocusing the way a programmatic budget is spent by adopting a laser focus on specific geolocations, automatically engaging third-party partners to fill in contact gaps for your buyer personas at a given location, and leveraging the natural language processing at the core of good predictive platforms to align specific content and offers to keywords most consumed by an organization in a specific location.
This piece – actually operationalizing the predictions yielded from predictive analytics software – leads to the real results. Predictive analytics alone can be incredibly valuable. But coupled with ABM, predictive analytics take on new value and drives impressive results.
Operationalizing predictive analytics with strong account-based marketing plays results in ROI that’s easy for marketers to measure and report.
While we live in a world of instant gratification, sustained ROI from predictive analytics is a long game. Predictive analytics simply don’t work that way. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not worth the investment. There are some quick wins with predictive analytics, such as identifying whitespace opportunities or total addressable market, active accounts that show intent around a product offering that are not part of your target market. Predictive analytics can also quickly identify accounts that actively research and engage with competitors and prioritize ones that are near end of contract.
Predictive analytics, coupled with smart account-based marketing strategies, can be the secret sauce for marketers looking to identify and reach prospects, funnel leads through the pipeline, and deliver more sales-qualified leads over the long term. And a predictive-centered strategy can also result in meaningful engagement over the short term.
Marketers all know the constant struggle of proving that tactics used yielded meaningful outcomes. Predictive analytics platforms can not only reveal the impact and effectiveness of a marketing touchpoint, but can immediately use that insight to improve future outreach and better target decision-makers.
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