Predicting Customer BehaviorMarketers want to be able to predict customer behavior through the volumes of customer engagement data available to them. But, the reality is marketers are struggling mightily in this department.

Despite a plethora of consumer data and analytics, marketers have yet to master funneling this multiplicity of data into actionable insights to reliably anticipate and predict what's ahead and then prepare for it.

According to a new study from the CMO Council, titled, “Predicting Routes to Revenue, a mere 5% of marketers indicated that they have mastered the ability to adapt and predict the customer journey and what actions will derive maximum value. The study is based on insights from more than 150 senior marketing executives surveyed primarily across North America and Europe during the fourth quarter of 2015 and was conducted in partnership with Pegasystems, a provider of strategic business applications.

Marketers looking to deliver exceptional customer experiences are increasingly turning to personalization as the key driver to maximize customer value, according to the study. But this will require redefining data’s value and primary role, moving away from using data as a vehicle to calculate past performance metrics and into a critical tool to uncover new, real-time insights about customer behavior—including how customers react to different trends, news, offers, deals, product promises, promotional prompts, recommendations, social commentary, and personalized messages.

While 23% of marketers are able to develop predictive insights into broad customer trends, another 20% feel they are only able to predict the next best action and struggle to move beyond that first step. Delivering on brand promises is another area that appears to be lacking for marketers, as two-thirds of respondents revealed their success in this area is hit-or-miss, with 14% admitting they were completely missing the mark. 

Why are the numbers so staggeringly low in this era of rapidly changing data technology?

According to the study, a key contributor to this lack of advancing analytics is a fundamental misalignment of data sources as marketers continue to struggle with aggregation, alignment, and analysis of data across disparate sources. Forty-eight percent indicate that data is collected and analyzed but remains separate and is not well aligned. Only 3% say their current data sources are integrated and totally aligned, delivering a comprehensive 360-Predicting Customer Behaviordegree view of the customer.

“Marketers have the right intentions, working to deliver rich, personalized and relevant engagements across an increasing number of channels, but there are still a number of roadblocks preventing us from maximizing efforts in this area,” said Liz Miller, Senior Vice President of Marketing with the CMO Council. “Personalization isn’t a question of using a customer’s name in an email subject line. Personalizing the customer experience demands that we harness the data that is collected across the organization and immediately transform that into something that is actionable and resonates with the customer and their preferences. If personalization remains a way to add a few interesting indicators to a momentary campaign, we will fail in fully optimizing the revenue potential of each individual customer.”

The top sources of insights into customers, prospects, and markets include visits to the corporate website (74%), sales data and CRM-based customer records (68%), and customer satisfaction surveys (57%).

“The sheer volume of customer data available to marketers today is both a blessing and a curse,” said Robert Tas, CMO of Pegasystems. “As customer expectations rise when they reveal more about themselves, most organizations aren’t equipped to reciprocate by providing a better, more personalized experience. By deploying real-time analytics to turn this data into actionable insights, organizations can predict customer needs and quickly adjust as those needs change to provide superior experiences at every interaction.”

The study highlighted key priority areas for marketers:

Adding more personalized experiences that are based on customer data (59%)

Expanding engagement channels to better meet customers where they want to engage (54%)

More completely aligning front-line resources (sales, service, and in-store support) to create exceptional experiences in any channel (45%)

Delivering real-time, relevant offers to optimize revenue (41%)

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