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You Ask, I Answer_ Basic Prediction

Christopher asked,

“Christopher! Went to the SMMW this past year and attended your presentation. One of the most impactful and motivating talks I have seen. I am extremely amateur in my domain expertise in coding- signed up for a python course via codecademy for my personal growth. In my professional role I am pulling the necessary data to create a similar”To Do” action calendar. Curious if you can give some additional tips and tricks to amateur especially when matching/selecting the dates to map out actions.“

Great question, Christopher. The short version is that without predictive algorithms, you can’t achieve the level of specificity I showed in my session, but there are things you can do today. Let’s dig in.

You Ask, I Answer: Basic Prediction

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Welcome to another episode of You Ask, I Answer. Today, christopher asks, went to social media market world this past year attended your presentation in my professional role, i’m pulling the necessary data to create a similar to do action calendar curious you can give you some additional tips and tricks to amateurs, especially in matching us look dates to map out actions.

It’s a good question, christopher and the tough part is the material presented at Social Media Marketing World was specifically around predictive analytics, which requires some of those coding skills in order to do it well. However, there are some basic things you can do to prepare for this, to have an action plan sooner rather than later.

The first most, important thing is you need to have mapped out your marketing operations funnel, so from the moment that you have a first contact with a customer to the moment that they buy something. How long does that take for some products and services? From a pack of chewing gum, for example, you know this may take seconds right? A child sees it at the end of the rack, they yell at their parent, the parent goes and buys it. It may be a purchase cycle that lasts seconds.

On the other hand, if you’re selling Gulfstream airplanes or large commercial buildings, you could have a ten year sale cycle depending on how things go, so you need to have that mapped out first. How long is it going to take you to get from contact to purchase? For every business it’s going to be different. B2C, B2B businesses, it could be 30, 90, 120, 300 days – once you know how long that moving window is, even if you don’t have access to to predictive analytics software, you could still do generalized predictions.

So for example, if you were to take two years worth of your sales data and map it put into it something – Tableau or Excel or IBM Watson Analytics, and say what month do sales peak? That’s something you could determine from from past performance. As long as your company’s performing similarly, you say ok, we know September’s our month, that’s the month we must sell stuff, so now you have your target. This is the month things are going to be hot and you have your sales cycle.

You know how long it’s going to take you to get to the point where those things closed. Depending on your data you may end up saying ok, so if September is our month based on past data and our sales cycle is ninety days, that means we need to be aggressively marketing in May and early June of every year so that we hit that window. And so that’s prediction at a monthly level and that’s still like way ahead of ninety percent, ninety five percent of people who are out there who were just doing no planning whatsoever. They are just throwing darts at things. Beyond that level of specificity, you’ll need the predictive analytics software, but even that level of planning is really good to do.

The other thing I would suggest doing is use the path analysis within Google Analytics at a channel level and see from contact to Google goal completion – assuming your goals are set up correctly – to figure out ok, do different channels converted different rates? That will give you the ability to understand, should you be doing less or more during certain time periods. I would also look at the assisted conversions report in Google Analytics, because that will tell you what channels are helping conversions more than being the last touch. You’ll piece together a very basic customer journey, so now you have the sales cycle which involves your customer path to purchase and you have your target date

You could say in the first four weeks, the first third of our of our customer journey, we know we’ve got have display, paid search, generic paid search, and social media working for us. In the middle, we must have referral and public relations and retargeting. At the end, we must have email and web pixel based retargeting.

And that will give you that sort of rough operational map. It’s not perfect. And that’s by no means you know, as granular as predictive software, but that’s still a really good place to start. And it’s still far more than the average person’s going to do. So give that a try.

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