– Porapak Apichodilok – CC0 License

As marketers, we are trained to create marketing content and initiatives that help attract the prospective customer. We go the extra mile to understand their motivations, pain points, questions, what customer touch points are effective and many other attributes that help create more effective marketing. We call this prospective customer a “persona.” But there’s more to understand – more on that later.

As the brand, we position our entire marketing and advertising based on how we define them and their interaction with our marketing initiatives. It’s a well-documented approach, proven to ensure your marketing is crafted to reach the audience you want. It’s all part of content marketing which does a lot more informing and educating than selling.

“Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.” – Content Marketing Institute

Let’s change gears and discuss my thoughts on a few things that have emerged for marketers and all businesses for that matter. If you’re up for a little analytics commentary on hot topics… let’s get this started.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

It sounds like a made-up term for something fancy, but trust me, there is a lot more than meets the eye here. In a world full of methods and their names longer than route 66, AI is the shortest known to marketers. Don’t fight it; embrace it. When you know more about how you can adapt it your marketing ops it will soon be common, everyday language in your staff meetings.

What exactly is AI anyway? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, AI is “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” This happens all the time behind the scenes if your business is advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Google and LinkedIn and other companies that make a living online – not just advertisers by the way.

There are many ways marketers use AI, here are just a few I have experienced myself that can be helpful for your team to understand.

  • PPC Advertising: This is a no-brainer. PPC has made great strides of late to do more than target, but “learn” an audience based on previous behavior and serve relevant content.
  • Personalized website experiences: Similar to PPC, websites also can learn customer behavior and provide a personalized experience based on what that customer action was. This is important to keep them informed with the right information important to them. If you’re serving them information they don’t want they will disappear fast and may not give your business a second chance.
  • Customer Insights: This quite possibly could have been the first reason marketing teams were exposed to AI, but they didn’t know. Typical metrics were past actions, communications, and purchase behaviors, all on-site naturally. There are even deeper insights now like geo-specific, referral, psychographic, social groups and interactions… and so much more. These insights are endless, so beware of what you measure, you may find yourself spending your entire week looking at data and forgetting about your other work. That’s another blog altogether.

Predictive Analytics

AI and Predictive Analytics have some crossover both in value for the marketer and data delivered. I will try to explain this in a way that makes the most sense. Here goes. Search Business Analytics says, “Predictive analytics is a form of advanced analytics that uses both new and historical data to forecast activity, behavior, and trends.” Okay, so how do we differentiate the two and why do we need both? Hmm. The way I see this working for marketing is in the form of predictive modeling and scoring for prospective customers and their likelihood to purchase. If you have predictive models built for you to review, decisions can be made purely on data sets fed into dashboards –crazy.

(IoT) Internet of Things

Okay, if you thought AI and predictive analytics were somewhat confusing, we are going to take this to another level with IoT. Because I do not have the level of exposure with IoT like the others we just talked about, I must rely exclusively on external sources for this. Hang in there; here are a few sources that will help provide clarity on how IoT is relevant for marketers.

TechTarget mentions how it all began. Did you know the first glimpse of IoT was in 1999? It was on MIT’s campus in Cambridge, MA with co-founder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center, Kevin Ashton. Okay, we all knew MIT was a smart place, but seriously – that was nearly 20 years ago. That’s what I call ahead of the curve.

IBM is known as the worldwide leader in IoT so I figured I would give them a mention. Here’s what they have to say that explains pretty well what IoT is and how it works from a ten thousand foot level. “In a nutshell, the Internet of Things is the concept of connecting any device (so long as it has an on/off switch) to the Internet and to other connected devices.” We all know marketers live and die on the Internet and devices right? Without it and the data it provides we are back to the dark ages of marketing–Are you following me?

“The IoT is a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them.” – IBM

For the most part, IoT “adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without a human being involved, and merging the digital and physical worlds” says ZDNet.

Clarity = Customer Intent

Now that we have a little more clarity on three emergent technology means that we’re all grappling with, what in the world is a marketer to do with all this? I think if we boil this down to one thing it would be much simpler to grasp. Customer Intent. Yep, that’s it. Marketers want to know who their customers are before they know they’re a customer. That requires understanding the intent of each and every individual. Thinkwithgoogle says it best.We call these intent-filled moments, micro-moments. And they’re the best opportunity marketers have to connect with people at the exact moment they are looking for something.”

Research says most customers are about halfway through the process of making a purchase decision before a connection is made. Wow, I guess intent is important. Intent revolves around the question why. As marketers, if we understand the why, we can craft better strategies for reaching our prospective customers and nurture them painlessly (wishful thinking) through to the sale. Isn’t that what we all want?

Let’s go back to the original question. Why do marketers collect data? All of these above are on the minds of marketers, many of which collect data through the use of these methods. The end goal ultimately is to know the customers’ purchase intent before they know they are going to be a customer.

Scott MacFarland is a lifelong marketer with a passion for content, marketing, digital, social, web, video, analytics, and all things that lead to successful conversions. Scott is currently the Marketing Director for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida.

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Photo Credit: – Porapak Apichodilok – CC0 License



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