Predictive dataA few recent articles about brand experience and the future of predictive data have me thinking about the somewhat dichotomous relationship that most bloggers have set up between these who aspects of marketing. Some will tell you that the next big thing is big data and predictive analytics. Others will say ignore that stuff, what really matters now is a sense of human interaction. I say, both of those things are necessary for a strong marketing strategy.

Pros of Prediction

Let’s take a look at predictive analytics. The big story in this sphere is all about how big data is going to lead to huge ROI for the businesses that can collect the most information, and learn how to target their campaign essentially down to the hairs in your nose.

Proponents argue that this will happen in two ways. Businesses can use all of their data-driven predictive analytics to:

  • Make better decisions about what content to run, in which places, and at whom, and then objectively measure the success of that marketing effort
  • Automate personalization of customer experiences through stored databases of individual users’ demographic information, behavior, and purchase/search history

Those are two incredibly useful things as consumers indicate that they more and more want a personalized experience, and there are an incredible amount of real-world applications of the 1’s and 0’s your company has likely been collecting recently. Predictive analytics can help you suggest products your customers might like, figure out what devices to optimize your campaign for, and figure out which CTAs are the most effective for driving your sales.

I’m always one to say that all information is worth having. But even so, there are detractors who currently argue that predictive analytics aren’t a strong enough foundation on which to build a marketing campaign, or worse, that they’re no longer relevant.

The Experience Element

Stephanie Miller of Clickz recently asked the question, “Are Predictive Models Dead?” While it seems at first glance like a little bit of an overstatement, this question is actually extremely appropriate at a time when brand fans and other consumers are clamoring for more interaction from brands, and an attention-grabbing experience that goes beyond a statistics-based assumption that they’ll be interested in a certain product.

A guest post on likewise argues that in recent years, the customer experience has gone beyond simply researching and buying products. With the rise of social media, consumers have developed complex relationships with brands that rely on self-identity and the many associations that become attached to a product or service. Buying a product or spending money on a service is no longer a simple transaction based on a consumer seeing an ad, deciding to fork over some dollars, and getting a physical product in return; rather, constructing an entire brand experience is a necessary aspect of gaining loyal customers.

And predictive analytics, these bloggers say, simply can’t account for things like emotional response or the weird quirks of the internet that make some content go viral and leaves others in the dust. Yet, brand experience and customer engagements, again, remain only one piece of a very complicated puzzle.

What This Means for You

Both predictive analytics and understandings of what makes for a perfect brand experience continue to evolve, and I think that at this point in time, employing both strategies is key for any business that wants to succeed in a world where customer desires are rapidly changing.

In a two-pronged approach, businesses might use predictive analytics to ask important questions like, which of my previous customers are likely to come back and buy again? What advertising strategies earn the most conversions? What factors make my clients more likely to contract with one of my competitors?

Then, a focus on brand experience might allow you to shape a company culture that appeals to prospective buyers, to help your loyal customers develop positive associations with your brand, and to turn your product into something more than a product.

This is all pretty theoretical, so I’d love to hear how you’ve used predictive analytics and brand experience building within your own business, together and separately.

Share your own experience in the comments section below!