How Machine Learning Can Give Us Greater Customer Insights

Big data. Data mining. Data lakes—and data swamps. Today, data is everywhere we look, and most businesses have made it a top priority to gather as much of it as they possibly can—but often, that’s where the story ends.

In fact, there is so much data being produced in today’s digital landscape—2.5 exabytes every single day—that it can be completely overwhelming to work through it. For some companies, it remains stored in the cloud, or siloed in a single department—never shared with those who can use it. For others, it becomes sorted and formatted placed neatly into reports that never produce tangible results. Data is no joke in today’s economy. But it’s only valuable if we know how to use it.

Luckily, technology is progressing along with our data production. Machine learning offers businesses the tools they need to make sense of the vast amounts of data their customers are producing and to use it to make more informed, evidence-based decisions within their company. Whereas it once may have seemed strange to include a data scientist on your marketing team, soon it will likely become commonplace as businesses begin to fully understand how valuable data mining is and how we can use it.

Today, there are already 3,600 marketing technology (MarTech) vendors ready to help you make sense of data for your business. If you’re considering hiring one—or simply not sure what machine learning can do for your business—check out my top reasons for investing in machine learning below.

It Helps You Market to the Right Audience

Did you ever notice that commercials for beer and erectile dysfunction medication always seem to play during football games? That’s because the NFL knows its audience. You might say, “But there are women and children who watch football games, too. What about them?” That’s where machine learning comes in.

Machine learning allows marketing teams to segment their audiences even more deeply, and with the help of other technologies like AI, to create specific content for each audience type. For instance, machine learning could help networks determine that women and children are more likely to watch football games on their iPads, and to change their commercials on those channels to reflect the different preferences. On the web, it can even switch ads or landing pages in real time to appeal to different audiences. In essence, it helps market smarter to produce even better results. According to MarTech company ZIO, it’s about mobilizing “the right channel, with the right offer, to the right customer, at the right time.”

It Helps You Impact Customer Behavior

Face it: it doesn’t matter how many customers visit your website if they don’t engage while they’re there. That could mean enrolling for a class, buying a product, or joining a movement—whatever your company is about. Imagine if your customer was on the fence about buying one of your products—and you could offer an incentive just as they were about to walk away from the online shopping cart? With machine learning, retailers can do just that, offering messages and incentives to help them stay, buy, and even return to make the purchase they left behind. In this way, machine learning is kind of like a robotic haggler. It reaches out on your behalf to keep your customers engaged.

But machine learning doesn’t have to be limited to coupons and incentive deals. It could mean automatically opening a chat bot if the searcher seems confused, launching helpful articles they may not have found on their own, or indicating events or workshops that they would find helpful. In this way, machine learning helps you customer know that you understand and care for them—someone all customers want in the digital age.

It Helps You Build Loyalty

With the help of machine learning, analytics are no longer simply descriptive. They’re predictive—and increasingly, prescriptive. They help you anticipate your customers’ needs, which can keep them coming back again and again. For instance, machine learning could help you determine that Customer X purchases a new water filter every two months. Imagine if, the next time they place their order, you offer the option to have the filter sent automatically—no need to place the order at all? Now you’ve got a lifelong customer, and one who believes you care about making their lives easier. That’s the magic of machine learning.

Learning to incorporate machine learning and evidence-based decision-making into your company will likely be a cultural shift. It won’t happen overnight, but if you start by focusing on one or two key insights that align closely with your business goals, it will give you the confidence to harness its power even more into the future.

Additional Resources on This Topic
Cultivating Your Fans: Big Data Finds its Way to Sports Marketing
Why Deep Learning and AI Will Change Everything
Machine Learning Already Changing the Entertainment Industry
Can Machine Learning Make HR Better?
Intent Data: Taking Personalized Marketing to New Level

Photo Credit: webzin Flickr via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.