Whether you are looking for a way to bring up your plummeting sales, increase the rate of your already sustainable growth, or exploring new ways for the IT technology to make your business more nimble and competitive, you will always find a reliable solution within the data that your business has been generating.
However, data without disciplined analytics is just a pile of figures. Paraphrasing one of my favourite modern thinkers Charlie Munger, making strategic decisions without analytics, as a business owner, you go through life like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest!
But let’s step back a little bit and ask ourselves the following question:
If we had any piece of information, however unbelievable, to make the perfect decision, what would it be?
A study conducted by Google and Harvard Business Review in 2016 suggests that such thinking should precede any analytics. It is by far easier to approach analytics by defining a business problem rather than asking a bunch of geeks to stare at your data and try to infer some meaningful insights out of it. Business directors still face the same strategic decisions that have always been on their agenda. What makes the difference now is the abundance of data and computing power that help to make these decisions.
“The primary challenge to achieving a competitive advantage with analytics is moving from data to insight followed by action. An effective analytics strategy starts with a clear definition of business problems, an understanding of what the analytics solutions need to accomplish, and a metric to measure the outcomes. These definitions can determine what data is required and when. Without a disciplined approach to analytics, you will end up with customer experiences that aren’t as effective or engaging as they could be. Like any source of information, you need to embed and ingrain analytics into decision-making processes to obtain the desired results.”
Top performing companies use analytics not only to improve targeted marketing efficiency or effectiveness. While it is important to increase return on every spent marketing dollar, top performers go even further. They aim at creating value to customers at every touch point that matters. The goal is to gain a single view of the customer, ensure the optimal product offering and the most effective communication strategies. To achieve that, they capture data at every single point of interaction with the customer. From email responses and Facebook likes to tweets, polls and purchase history. Marketing needs to connect the dots across the whole company and its partners to deliver real value instead of just communicating the brand.
Luckily, artificial intelligence – AI – can help connecting these dots. Research by Forrester revealed that when asked about contextual marketing, most marketers think about targeting or programmatic media buying campaigns. However, this is not the full picture. While customer acquisition is of great importance, it is vital to retain customers as well. Interacting with them at every step of their journey, propelling them to the next best interaction based on insights derived from customer profiles, relationship history, and situational context is where AI makes the difference. AI can stick together disparate data sources, reduce time and complexity of turning them into actionable insights.
AI is not meant to be another system that would complicate your technology stack even further. Instead, it is intended to simplify and automate your processes. “AI-driven marketing promises autonomy and ongoing improvement throughout the customer journey, and delivers powerful insights with less manual time and bandwidth.”
Companies around the world are already reaping the benefits of AI-infused marketing. A Harley-Davidson dealership in New York saw a whopping 2,930% increase in leads forcing them to open a second call centre to handle all the new business. Cosabella, an Italian manufacturer of luxury lingerie, following a period of falling sales and the adoption of AI, benefited from 155% quarterly revenue increase and 565% improvements in return on ad spend. By the end of the third month after integrating AI into their ecosystem, their Facebook conversions rose by 2,000%. Both companies used AI software named Albert. In-house marketers set parameters like location, channel, target audience, budget and KPI’s leaving every other decision to Albert, such as identifying the best keywords, shifting budget between channels, finding fraud and executing buys. In other words, Albert entirely replaced their advertising agency.
According to a strategy research firm Innosight, the average lifespan of a typical company is down from 67 years to just 18 – and at current churn rates, 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027. Disruption is the primary factor behind this trend. Companies that embrace digital transformation dramatically increase their chances of survival while watching customers deserting the ones that are lagging behind.