While working on a blog post about online travel industry’s digitalization, I stumbled upon the term predictive marketing. After doing some more research, I chose the term as the defining angle of the post. Judging by the popularity of that piece, and the fact that I’ve seen “predictive marketing” in one way or another popping up in the twittersphere more often, I just knew I had to get to the bottom of this. So what really is predictive marketing?

First of all: who the hell comes up with all these terms?

Predictive marketing. Or perhaps predictive analytics? Nah, it’s all about machine learning. Data-driven marketing, you know, with big data and all that. Really now?

If we take a closer look at this terminology, the first thing we realize is that predictive marketing is nothing new.

Marketers have used data before to analyze and forecast the success (or failure) of their campaigns. I think what drives the predictive marketing hype is that year after year marketers have had access to increasing amounts of data and especially data sources/types, and now the technology to harness that information is becoming more commonly available. So instead of expanding on the things they already worked with, marketers did what marketers do: rebranded the whole thing as a new approach.

Big names (and big gains?)

Already the behemoths of SaaS industry, like Adobe, Salesforce and Nokia, have engaged heavily with the concept of predictive marketing and analytics. The field is still open for newcomers too: a San Francisco based startup called Radius has raised so far $125 million from investors. Their main product is a software that “uses more than 50 million data points” for predictions.

What is shared between all predictive marketing solution providers is the consensus about the fact that this technology is the next logical step in marketing, and those who ignore it are doomed to perish. The ability to understand and identify every individual customer and their individual needs, based on their behavior, time, location, relations, and thousand other variables, is a huge asset. Also things like predictive lead scoring have been attributed under predictive marketing, so there’s rather nifty new possibilities in all stages of the funnel.

As several studies keep showing time and time again that consumers want personalized online services now more than ever, predictive marketing seems to answer a loud and clear demand – whether or not consumers themselves know that they want it.

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