Read time: 5 minutes

TL;DR

  • Predictive analytics involves a business turning data about their customers into actionable business insights.
  • Any business with access to customer data or statistics from a business website can use predictive analytics to their advantage.
  • Businesses can turn to Google Analytics to develop useful and actionable insights from website activity for free.
  • More advanced data analytics platforms include SAS, ClearStory Data, InsightSquared and IBM Cognos Analytics.
  • The first step to analysis of the data is to set goals and objectives. Then identify which metrics measure key performance indicators.
  • Hypothesize why metrics are the way they are and conduct A/B tests to pinpoint what works. Use these results to guide your future marketing efforts.

In today’s digital marketplace, competition is everywhere. In an environment like that, no business can afford to pass up anything that might provide them with an advantage over the field. As it turns out, companies have had access to just such an advantage for years, but didn’t know how to unlock it. The advantage is the vast amounts of data that they collect about their customers.

Today, advances in technology including in artificial intelligence, big data, and data analysis have given businesses a way to turn all of that data into actionable business insights in real-time. The key to making it work is to know what data is useful in a marketing context and what tools should be used to make sense of it. The umbrella term that describes the process is predictive analytics. Here’s a guide that explains the basics of predictive analytics and how your business can use it to achieve better results right now.

The Value of Predictive Analytics

In any business, pitching the right product to the right audience at the right time is the key to success. For years, however, marketers and salespeople had to look to broad historical trends for vague insights into how their target markets might behave in the future. Predictive analytics is an intersection of science, intuition and technology that allows businesses to predict, often with great specificity, how a given market will behave.

It can also produce insights that allow for more accurate targeting of advertising and sales efforts. For example, consider that Orbitz.com was able to use their data to determine that people that visited their platform from Macintosh computers were likely to spend more money on a hotel room booking. They used that insight to adjust their search results pages to highlight the price level that those customers were most likely to want, and the result was a higher overall booking rate average.

Collecting Data for Predictive Analytics

Although the practical applications will vary from industry to industry, any business with access to customer data or statistics from a business website can use predictive analytics to their advantage. But first you’ll need to collect that data. These days, there are a variety of analytics platforms aimed at small businesses that need to catalog, house, and analyze their unstructured data (things like customer feedback, sales histories, etc.). Some of the most common general data analytics platforms include:

Those platforms offer a variety of feature sets and can be readily adapted to a variety of data types. Businesses that will use their own website as a primary data source can turn to Google Analytics to develop useful and actionable insights right away, but don’t just look at one source of data. Additional insights can be obtained from a program like Lead Logic, which allows you to see the names of companies who visited your website. You should also look at the insights of your social media platforms and audience data within your company CRM and note important stats, trends and demographic factors.

Using Data for Predictive Analytics

Businesses that opt to make use of Google Analytics on their websites will gain access to a sophisticated data tracking platform and analytics engine that’s the current gold standard around the world. Best of all, it’s completely free.

The first step in starting the predictive analytics process is to define goals for your business as a whole. Then start identifying key performance indicators that feed into those goals. Next, identify metrics within your data sources that affect your KPIs directly or are connected to these key performance indicators.

You’ll need to set up conversions on Google Analytics for these key metrics you’ve identified, which allow you to track when website visitors perform a specific action, such as visiting a product page for a certain amount of time or signing up for a newsletter. Once those are set up, it becomes possible to track how successful specific marketing efforts are, and to conduct comparative A/B testing to fine-tune messaging or audience targeting.

With your data platform tracking your KPIs, you’re ready to form a strategy based on real-time data.

Interpreting Data and Using it to Guide Marketing Efforts

There’s almost no limit to how valuable the insights gained can be. The ultimate goal of predictive analytics is to guide future efforts based on real time audience behavior and return on investment. Data analysis makes it easier to calculate ROI on your marketing investment and determine what’s working and what’s not, as well as predict what will work in the future.

Some common metrics that can be measured on a monthly basis to be used for predictive analytics include:

  • Pageviews – which pages are the most popular?
  • Unique Visitors – how many people visit your site in a month?
  • Bounce Rate – do people land on a single page and then leave?
  • Qualified Leads – how many qualified leads submit contact forms or call?
  • Channels – do the majority of visitors come from ads, a Google search or social media?
  • Devices – do most users access your site on a phone or desktop?

From here, do some brainstorming. Customize your questions to your business needs and company marketing efforts:

  • Do visitors from Google searches or from social media have a higher conversion rate?

 

  • Why does this page have a higher bounce rate than other pages?
  • What is the most popular call to action button on the site?
  • What is our best performing blog, and how can we replicate that success?
  • If I doubled ad spending, how many more conversions can I estimate based on current performance?

 

When it comes down to it, predictive analytics relies on a company expert to connect the dots when it comes to the company’s goals and the data that feeds into that.

Partnering with Analytics Experts

Since websites should evolve as business needs change, the conclusions drawn from performance data should dictate improvements made to the site, as well as ongoing marketing efforts. Check your business website with our free website grader to get started. It will identify problems or areas that need improvement, and if you choose to collaborate with Comit Developers’ team of experts, we can help you solve them (and any other problems that could be lurking under the surface) right away.

That’s not all, though. Here at Comit, we’re committed not just to working for you, but also to working with you to get results. We believe that collaboration is the key to great websites, so we love working with businesses that want to have a productive two-way dialogue about their goals and needs every step of the way. If that sounds good to you, contact us today and let us put our expertise to work for you to help you get the most out of your business website and all of your valuable data today!