Analytics have exploded into prominence in the past 15 months. What was once a mysterious statistical discipline understood by few has been elevated as the enabling technology that allows companies to unlock the potential of Big Data. Big Data was everywhere in 2012. There was a track devoted to it at the World Economic Forum in January, 2012. In October, the Harvard Business Review had a cover section on Big Data which characterized analytics as sexy and dubbed its leading practitioners Data Scientists. And at Ketchum, we made analytics training mandatory for ALL employees in 2012, a first for our industry.
The digitization of all forms of analog data is at the heart of the Big Data explosion. From our click behavior online to purchases we make with a loyalty card to places we go in our vehicles, everything is captured as digital data potentially available for analysis. And with the accelerating use of cameras and sensors, the volume of data promises to keep rising for years to come.
For all the talk about Big Data, no one really wants Big Data. They want the insights hidden within the data that only digital analytics can unlock. Probably the hottest area within digital analytics is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics essentially predict how consumers will behave given certain conditions, assumptions and stimuli. This has powerful and tangible benefits to marketing. An Aberdeen Group study published in December 2011 found marketing organizations that applied data mining and statistical modeling to optimize marketing efforts saw as much as a 2X lift from marketing campaigns, a 76% higher click-through-rate and a 73% higher sales lift.
Marketing organizations are seeing the tremendous power and potential of predictive analytics across a broad spectrum of marketing activities. For example:
- Proactively optimizing marketing campaigns to improve engagement and conversions
- Identifying customers most likely to switch companies and targeting offers to them designed to keep them as customers
- Delivering customized offers designed to appeal to a prospect’s specific interests or life situation
- Predicting which ‘first visit’ customers are most likely to return or not return, and sending offers targeting the ‘not likely to return’ group while avoiding the costs of making offers to those likely to return anyway.
In 2013, we have seen analytics continue to be a mainstream news subject. Analytics is only in the early migration phase from early adopters to mainstream use. Expect this trend to continue and accelerate in the coming years as more marketers discover analytics are a clear path to improving marketing effectiveness, efficiency, and ultimately, the bottom line.