Predictive Analytics Tools Now at Home With Print Ads?
Print marketing is not exactly cutting-edge, but real estate analytics firm Benutech believes that there is potential for a crossover. It has linked predictive analytics tools with print marketing services from Corefact to produce a unique product: Tailor-made postcards and fliers. Is this the start of a retro-analytics revolution?
According to a June 22 article from Inman News, Benutech's ReboGateway tool already does a pretty good job of targeting potential leads. By prospecting a geographic area and using data about "life events" such as a change in marital status, notice of sale or even expired for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) listings when other nearby properties have sold, ReboGateway gives real estate agents the inside track on homeowners that might be primed to sell — often before these homeowners have considered the idea themselves. Combining with Coretech's print services takes the idea a step further, allowing agents to customize fliers and postcards and have them mailed directly to prospective buyers. Direct integration with ReboGateway means applicable data can be uploaded and formatted almost instantly.
At first, this seems like an odd combination. Business intelligence (BI) tools, especially those focused on prediction, tend to eschew traditional marketing efforts in favor of electronic communication and social media. But think of it from the perspective of a homeowner who is suddenly faced with a major life change: When an advertisement offering top dollar for the home he can no longer afford or may no longer want appears in the mail, it seems like fate — like too good of an opportunity to pass up.
The IT Factor
For midsize IT professionals, it is easy to look at this use of predictive analytics tools as a marketing effort, an interesting take on a new concept that has little bearing on the IT department at large. As a recent InformationWeek article points out, however, admins are critical to the success of these ventures. The process begins by identifying the analytics need. IT professionals excel at pinpointing specific outcomes, while other departments tend to think big-picture. When it comes to predictive tools, however, this can be a problem since it leads to a kind of generalized aggregation without any usable outcomes. Midsize IT can help refine data sets and outcomes to produce actionable results.
There is also the issue of office infighting. Many departments identify data as "theirs" rather than part of the corporate culture at large. Here, IT acts as a kind of buffer, a form of utility rather than ownership. Instead of marketing handing over their data to sales or production, all departments contribute to IT. Of course, this leads to the issue of timeline management, because data analytics is a science but cannot produce results on a schedule. In other words, weeks of work may be required to see even a few days into the "future." Managing timeline expectations can help keep budgets on track and avoid the problem of rush decisions based on incomplete analysis.
Ultimately, the use of predictive analytics tools combined with paper-based marketing showcases the versatility of BI solutions, but while predictions are not constrained by physical or social media, they are dependent on underlying infrastructure. Sending the right message requires raw data, time and — most importantly — intelligent oversight.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.