The Signal and the Noise: From Marketing Intelligence to Intelligent Marketing

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Here is a not-so-secret secret about marketing: There are statistics and forecasts aplenty, from studies by this institute or that committee, as well as competing—and often contradictory—claims about the five (or six, but no more than ten) ways to leverage social media, or gain new customers, or double sales or increase profits. What few marketers provide, and even fewer marketing departments possess, are the tools to distinguish between the signal and the noise.

That is, if marketing is to be more scientific—if it is to yield actionable intelligence—then there must be an easy way to know what consumers want, what they say they want and how they say what it is they want.

Consider these expert assertions regarding inbound marketing:

"When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later."

"More than 60% of marketers and small business owners said they planned to increase investment in video marketing in 2017."

These figures simultaneously reveal too little about too much, which is to say, they highlight the importance of certain forms of communication without explaining how to communicate. Then again, numbers are symbols, not sentences: They do not contain the language that motivates people to do something, that persuades shoppers to buy something.

According to Gabriel Shaoolian, a digital marketer and fellow contributor to The Huffington Post:

"If you fail to identify what you'd like to accomplish with a certain marketing campaign, you can't measure effectiveness and hold any specific tactic accountable for results. Perhaps the channel you're focusing on has brought you 20 extra leads in a month. How can you tell if that is the best performance possible? Without a strategy that identifies past performance and outlines objectives, there is no way to accurately develop a plan that allows you to reach the goals you've set."

I second that sentiment—indeed, there is nothing to dispute about that conclusion—which makes the power of marketing intelligence all the more important. For, without a relevance engine, without the means to filter emails that recipients open and click, in addition to data regarding website registrations, content downloads, readership of website content, social media activity, keyword searches and readership of blog content—without the ability to separate truth from conjecture, marketing will be less accurate and far from scientific.

Brian Giese, Chief Executive Officer of True Influence, a source of fact-based marketing, says:

"Marketing rises or falls with the information companies have at their disposal. That reality demands a technological solution, which sorts through billions of pieces of online behavior and sifts through thousands of timely topics—up to 5,000 such categories, to be exact—to enable a business to craft a scalable marketing campaign in minutes.

"Automating that outreach, while maintaining a degree of personalization, is essential to advancing the cause of marketing in general."

Again, I take no issue with that comment. If anything, I hope the state of marketing accelerates more rapidly. I welcome the time when relevance trumps the blind quest for recognition, when facts triumph against the false comfort of fiction.

I herald the arrival of scientific marketing.