4 Factors Driving the Predictive Marketing Revolution

By September 2, 2015
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It is undeniable. The term “predictive” has permeated the language of the MarTech world.  Is it only a matter of time before Scott Brinker adds a “predictive” bucket to his infamous marketing technology landscape?

brinkerWe could explain its emergence as the result of “the buyer’s journey has changed” phenomenon, and well, we would be right for sure.  But, I seek a deeper answer. Why has the journey changed? What is the cause?

I’m a data person.  I’ve lived in the big data and Hadoop universe for the past few years and am new to the marketing technology landscape, but I can’t help but identify with this emerging trend. “Predictive” and “big data” are very similar, in that there is real, game-changing value in the technology. And like the early days of big data, there is a swarm of hype around “predictive” because the value is becoming very obvious.

It took a few years, but the big data market is somewhat settled now and the pretenders have been separated from the practitioners. We are in the early days of Predictive Marketing and over the course of the next year or so, I believe that we will see a very similar correction as organizations start to capture and demonstrate real value and real differentiation from the technology.

Why does what happen? Innovation in tech? Hype? Or a reality check.

4 Factors Driving the Predictive Trend

The Predictive Marketing trend is the output of four factors (driving 101 in the morning and 280 in the evening gives you time to think). Maybe there are more factors, but in my opinion this is a fairly complete list. Plus, these factors are very similar to those that drove “big data” in 2010. (BTW – big data is a factor…how’s that for meta?!)

Those factors are:


1. Predictive is an Answer to Pressure. It’s a Diamond.

Today’s competition is rough and marketers are being asked to do more with less.  We live quarter to quarter and there is an intense spotlight on our results.  Pipeline metrics are exposed in easy-to-access dashboards, and we are driving market strategy. It’s a great time to be a marketer!

Ultimately, our role feeds the success of the entire business. And business today is a pressure cooker. And this pressure creates diamonds.

“Why is top-of-funnel important?” — No CEO ever

Predictive Marketing is a more efficient approach to doing our jobs. At the core of what predictive marketing delivers is the ability to build pipeline and drive conversions. Sound familiar? Predictive Marketing reduces the pressure to deliver on those two critical KPIs.

Think about it this way – how many programs do you run today (without predictive) to fulfill your top-of-funnel goals? With predictive demand generation, you turn the spigot on and off based on your sales capacity. Simply said, predictive demand generation uses your data to identify your optimal top-of-funnel accounts and leads, and then fills your funnel. We can now focus on demand acceleration – moving prospects through your funnel at an accelerated pace – vs. traditional demand generation.

Predictive marketing also focuses on scoring. Many of us score manually today, enabling our marketing and sales teams to prioritize and be more efficient.  Using predictive to enhance this process makes scoring more effective – so your sales team can spend time on only the best accounts and leads.

2. We Have Matured, We Seek Enlightenment… Er, Insight

Related to the pressure to drive numbers, marketing has matured.  Just imagine trying to hit your numbers using the technology stack you had six years ago. Even worse, go back in time six years and try to accomplish what you get done today.  Good god, no!

Marketing technology has matured at an amazing rate and it continues to move forward.  Predictive is the natural progression.  It is the logical next big leap forward.

At the foundation of the tech stack is your CRM and marketing automation tools.  Your CRM is your “system of record” – it is the authoritative source for all things revenue-related.  Your marketing automation platform is your “system of engagement”, tracking all the interactions you have with your audience. Theses two systems work well together, but personally, I still struggle to makes sense of the full picture.  How do we gain insight across both systems?  They are related after all…

stackThis is where predictive comes in (shocker). Predictive Marketing ingests your CRM and marketing automation data in order to synthesize your optimal customer model.  Predictive marketing uses signals outside of these systems to fine-tune and apply trends across both platforms.  Ultimately, predictive marketing is a “system of insight”.  It isn’t just another tool.  It is a foundational system and the next leap forward in the maturity of the marketing tech stack.


3. Remember Moore… and the Tech Behind the Trend

6031_MooreIn 1965, Gordon Moore, a young engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor (later to found Intel), predicted that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits will double every year.  Fast forward 40 years and what does this result in? Doggiefood.com, Uber, and an ability for buyers to move through their journey faster than ever before. Easy access to a world of information has given the buyer complete control over the purchasing process.


We could all just thank Al Gore for inventing the internet I guess… or we can lay out the tech that has allowed all this to happen.

Three key advances over the past few years have fueled complete transformation in IT.  If you think MarTech is changing, you should see the data center!

  • Linear scale compute and storage allows us to not only store massive amounts of data, but to also perform operations with that data in a reasonable amount time. According to IBM, every day, we (humans) create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (a quintillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). In fact, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. And we store a LOT of that data.  Ever hear of the Internet of Things?  We store that data so we can find a valuable needle in this haystack… for the marketer this is buying behavior.
  • Ubiquity of access and information has us “checking in” to a concert hall and then researching predictive solutions during the intermission of the show. We can do almost anything from anywhere – and we do. All of these actions create data, and we are constantly “on”. For the most part, we live in a completely digital world.
  • The simplicity of the cloud divorces the complexity of storing data and running apps. Today, anyone can be a software company. The cloud reduces cost and eliminates administrative overhead. In fact, most applications today are being delivered as cloud applications or as “software as a service”. This ultimately opens new business models and gives us an agility that we have never had. Not only can we analyze the data, but we can also make predictions a service!

“Every business will become a software business, build applications, use advanced analytics, and provide SaaS services.”  – Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft

All combined, these three tech movements have enabled predictive analytics to move front and center.  The concept of predictive has been around for a long time, but today, we create more data, store more of that data, and process it more efficiently. With more data and more power, predictive analytics has become a true differentiator in this new world.

4. Time Flows From the Future to the Past

What is the difference between “hype” and a “trend”? I believe it is time. It takes time for adoption of an entirely new way of doing business. Remember when you started a job and they gave you a desktop computer?  It took years for the standard to move to laptops. Will we see only mobile platforms in the future?

2000px-Gartner_Hype_Cycle.svgGartner has created an entire category built around this concept called the “hype cycle”, which uses clever names to track technologies from hype to trend and eventually a reality (with a pit-stop in the “trough of disillusionment” along the way).

What the hype cycle illustrates are trends over time. Think about the time you first heard about marketing automation or CRM. Those technologies went through the same pattern of hype, to trend, to mass adoption – essentially “crossing the chasm”.

All of these factors have come together to create the perfect storm for predictive marketing. Using technology that has a foundation in data science enables marketers to simply do their jobs better and with more insight.

Predictive has been emerging over recent years, and now it is finally ready for prime time.

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