What if every brand decision could be backed up by data accurately forecasting its success? Actually, with predictive analytics, it can.
The big data boom
The digital age has created a voluminous amount of consumer data. Everything from what they buy and where they buy it, to what they like and dislike about everything is out there in bits and bytes for brands to use. This collective data is known as “big data” – and it’s pretty amazing.
There’s never been a more comprehensive picture available – and it’s only going to get better as additional data is added into the mix by future technology.
Any brand not leveraging this data to inform their every move is taking risks that are fully preventable. Here are just a few areas where predictive analytics using big data can inform your strategy:
It feels like there are as many ways for consumers to pay for a purchase as there are items to buy. How far should brands go to offer consumers the best options? Should you jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon? Offer Google Wallet? Create your own payment app like Starbucks? The right answer lies in the data you collect from customers and the audience comprising all your potential customers. Crunch the big data to see what it tells you about consumer habits, and then apply some sentiment analysis to ascertain the payment methods your audience loves most.
New product design
All brands need to continually create new products to stay alive, but nothing you offer should ever be random. If consumers are demanding improvements, by all means answer that call – but if it ain’t broke… leave it alone, or suffer the consequences. More than 30 years later people still reference the New Coke debacle. Because it never should have happened. Which leads us to…
Understanding consumer desires and trends
Social analytics are a major part of the big data equation – and if you pay attention you can avoid a world of hurt. That’s because consumers spend their lives telling the world what they love, hate, want, and don’t want on social. Sometimes it’s as obvious as saying there should be a certain flavor of something. Other times, they simply share how they’ve taken matters into their own hands, leaving it up to brands to act on the information and delight them with how well they know what they want. In all cases, social insights reveal the trends driving consumer behavior – and that’s a huge advantage for brands.
Optimizing customer service
Speaking of trends, with customer experience management one of the big ones right now, you’ve got to have a killer customer service department. When things go wrong – and they always will for somebody – how you handle it is everything. That means first knowing there’s a problem, and then understanding what consumers expect in a solution. Social media is one place to find out what consumers think of you – but it’s not the only place. Online review platforms like Yelp should be part of your data, as should individual product reviews at your website or any online marketplaces your products are sold. Use predictive analysis to prepare for the eventuality of problems, and be proactive about handling known issues before they blow up. Case in point…
Keeping merchandise in stock
Nothing is worse than a shortage of a popular product – especially when you’re actively promoting it – unless you love angry customers, that is. Predictive analytics can let you know when product is running low in a particular area, or when there are other challenges in the way – like weather. Even better, following the data can prepare you for how much product you need in advance – in specific sizes, colors, etc. – so you don’t run out.
Recognizing geographic opportunities
Speaking of geography – predictive analytics can clue you in to unexpected bursts of activity in specific areas. When that happens you have to be ready to maximize the window. Right now that might mean social chatter alerting you to a flash mob or other event, but in the future we may be able track people’s vital signs to identify trends and events geographically – allowing brands to respond to any number of circumstances based on location data.
Staffing your workforce
As generations like the Baby Boomers retire, a number of industries will need to find new workers to staff their organizations. You can find the best talent by using predictive analytics to follow up-and-coming generations like Generation Z, and learn what they want in an employer, and why.
The areas above should give you an idea of the many ways predictive analytics drive business strategy. The best part is using big data in these ways saves money – because there’s less trial and error as it’s all data-backed maneuvering.
As brands look for new ways to stay ahead of competitors, predictive analytics will become increasingly important. In fact, this approach will be the norm within the next five years. But you don’t want to wait until then to get started. The results if you do are pretty easy to predict.
Reach out to see predictive analytics in action using our social listening tools.
Image from Alan Levine