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Data, Predictive Analytics Made Big Waves in Q1

by David M. Raab, Raab Associates.

So, how’s your 2015 going? (People who live in Boston need not reply). If you spent much of your holiday season making and reading predictions about the coming year, it’s not too soon to check how they’re playing out.

My own predictions for 2015 saw continuation of two major themes: integration of external data with marketing systems, and expanded use of predictive modeling. Underlying both of those were more tools to build integrated marketing databases (which I call “customer data platforms”) and closer integration of marketing with sales systems (often under the label of “sales enablement”). Let’s take a quick look at the industry headlines (specifically, the front page of Demand Gen Report) and see how closely they relate:

• Acquisitions: There has been one big one so far, D&B’s purchase of prospect compiler and data cleaner NetProspex for $125 million.

• Funding: Two big rounds were reported, $20 million to intent data compiler and prospect scoring vendor 6sense and $18 million to custom video producer Vidyard.

• Integrations: DiscoverOrg announced a deal to supply prospect data to HubSpot; LiveHive integrated its content-consumption-based predictive models for prospect ranking with Act-On, and Oceanos integrated its data cleansing and appending services to Marketo and Eloqua.

My shoulder is still recovering from a fall on last winter’s ice, so I can’t pat myself on the back. But five of the six news items I just listed relate to external data, predictive modeling, or both. The only exception is Vidyard, and I’ll happily concede that video is an important trend that I’ve largely ignored. *

The NetProspex/D&B, 6sense, DiscoverOrg/HubSpot, and LiveHive/Act-On deals all qualify as sales enablement, so we can safely say that is growing nicely as well. Anything related to data enhancement can be seen as marketing database creation, but I’d also cite the $30 million in funding announced last week by tag management and customer profile builder Tealium, even though Demand Gen Report didn’t mention it.

Okay, things are going according to plan. But last year’s predictions are so, well, last year. Here are some newer trends I’m keeping an eye on:

• Fingerprinting: This describes identifying individuals based on a combination of behaviors and device attributes, both on the same device (overcoming problems with cookie deletion) and across multiple devices. “Identity stitching” is a related term. It has come up in at least conversations in the past week. If you’re really going to do cross-channel marketing, something like fingerprinting is essential. So I’d guess it’s here to stay.

• Attribution: Not really new, but more important as marketers run programs across channels. And more possible as technologies like fingerprinting and customer data platforms provide necessary data.

• Advertising and Marketing Automation Integration: It seems like yesterday that connecting these seemed wild and crazy. Now it’s almost commonplace: Eloqua and Marketo have announced deals from the marketing automation direction, while DemandBase, LinkedIn/Bizo, Adobe, and (just today) Terminus approach it from the advertising side. So you can definitely add it to the trend list, unless you think it’s already past that stage.

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*In fact, I just saw a survey today from Webmarketing123 which found that B2B marketers ranked video as the most widely used and most effective content marketing tactic, beating out case studies, webinars, and blogs. Who knew?

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David M. Raab is principal of Raab Associates, a consultancy specializing marketing technology and analytics. He is author of the B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Tool (VEST) and the Customer Experience Matrix blog.

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