Predictive marketing—it often sounds like a confusing combination of statistics, Harry Potter magic and crystal ball readings. Add the complex set of marketing technologies involved—data points, vendors, marketing language—and I have a hard time understanding what it is and why I should care.

But, the problem is, I have to care. It’s everywhere, and it’s changing how we reach our audiences. If you want to compete in this day and age, you’ll need to get acquainted…quickly. To help, here’s a simple demystification, a pulling back of the curtain if you will, but thankfully not a mathematics lesson (please look elsewhere for the statistical explanation).

What is predictive marketing?

It’s a process that takes your CRM database of:

  • Customers
  • (and possibly) Prospects

Puts them through the magic of:

  • Predictive models
  • Machine learning

Adds in learning with signals from the web, like:

  • Publicly available financial information about your customers/prospects
  • What technologies your customers/prospects use
  • What positions your customers/prospects are hiring for
  • What conferences your customers/prospects are hiring
  • And much, much more

And delivers:

  • A profile of characteristics that match YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER

Basically, without going into all the technical, complex, geeky stuff (which is actually very cool), it gives you a more robust, clear and detailed profile of what your ideal customer would like, which you can then use in your marketing and business decisions.

I’m sure you now have a thousand ideas of how you could use this information. But for those who have yet to have their coffee, here are some ideas:

  • Identify the right target and view other similar targets
  • Unearth nonintuitive insights to help with content creation and messaging
  • Gain insight into customers who are more likely to churn early
  • Find upsell/cross-sell or bundle opportunities by reviewing this profile per product

Sound interesting? Well here’s a free tip if you decide to start your own predictive marketing program: Don’t just share the “Predictive Score” of someone who fits your profile; instead, share why that company got that score (aka which characteristics have they met). This insight is very valuable to your sales team to keep the conversation going and close deals.