SXSW Goes Back to Data’s Future

The convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, machine learning, Big Data, and predictive analytics is shaping the future of marketing faster than ever. The consensus at SXSW Interactive in Austin this week is that marketers will need to embrace a mixture of data methodologies and technologies to improve customer retention and loyalty.

Predictive analytics is accelerating the way businesses create differentiated, individualized customer experiences and help them make better purchase decisions. By understanding patterns in data, we can use what-if scenarios to optimize marketing campaigns and anticipate customer behavior, break down barriers along the path to purchase, and reduce customer churn.

Experts at SXSW spoke about the need for predictive to cover the full customer lifecycle and deliver value to customers. The predictive engine is typically an AI platform that can use historical customer activity data (likes, posts, shares, purchases, clicks) to serve up relevant messages, offers, products, pictures, and content.

Each year, for instance, Pinterest serves over 1 trillion recommendations to its users via an AI algorithm that has learned exactly what its users want. It thinks about the “state of the user” at the moment he or she logs in – are they there to shop, post pictures, do research, share content – and then optimizes the experience through relevant content.

Predictive analytics is what fuels data-driven marketing and many big global brands are successfully implementing programs. Gail Horwood, Johnson & Johnson’s digital content expert, told SXSW attendees that Big Data and predictive analytics are revolutionizing the way the healthcare products manufacturer understands the customer journey. But sometimes it’s more about “small data” or simplifying the analysis down to what really matters for the brand to build better customer profiles. Horwood said we need to understand the right data that adds value to predict better customer activity with the brand and helps us deliver a supreme customer experience.

Marketers need to embrace Big Data and predictive analytics beyond the campaign level and elevate their analytics to the broader effects on brand performance. It’s not just about measuring campaign success, it’s more about predicting brand success in a marketplace that’s increasingly competitive for consumer attention.

Darren Bosik brings research, analytics, and insight-driven methodologies to help brands elevate their digital strategy and increase ROI. He spearheads the research and analysis initiatives at MMC drawing on his prior experience as a B2C analyst for eMarketer and a business technology analyst at Gartner.

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