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Of course, marketers want to provide the very best experience to consumers. However, with changing consumer expectations, today there’s a far greater risk of alienating audiences with flashy ads that are more annoying than engaging. When marketers have their consumers’ undivided attention, they often tend to squander it by providing a generic and forgettable user experience.
Consumers don’t need meaningless bells and whistles. They need to know their needs are being addressed on a 1:1 level. But how can marketers provide such a desired personalized experience when trying to cater to thousands of people? By doing what Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook does — predictive intelligence.
Predictive intelligence allows marketers to predict consumers’ preferences and future behavior based on the statistics of their online history. Forbes, the American business magazine that’s been in the game for almost 100 years, has used predictive intelligence to increase its online userbase from 15 million unique monthly visitors to 45 million (comScore) — all in the space of a few years.
Tom Davis, Chief Marketing Operator at Forbes, spoke with VentureBeat about the company’s success using predictive intelligence to drive readership for their website.
“It comes from the philosophy that people have changed. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to work with people from companies who are intent on helping them,” says Davis. “Your first goal has to be to help your customer — and that will help your business.” He goes on to explain that that often means getting used to being uncomfortable. For example. Forbes is now in the midst of a massive consolidation of its three main divisions that till now have operated as silos: editorial, marketing and advertising.
That’s because Forbes’ data showed that readers themselves don’t operate as silos. And the company needed to respond — in order to offer the kind of help Davis is talking about.
“If you’re a leader on Forbes.com, you might come in and go to our entrepreneur channel, where we serve a lot of editorial around being a small business owner, or being an entrepreneur in a big business,” Davis explains. “We give a lot of advice on how to bring your ideas to life and navigate some of the challenges that a small business owner might have, when they don’t have a lot of peers and other employees to bounce ideas off of.”
“Of course, we might have an offer for a free small business seminar that might help people start a company, or get to the next level of growth for their company, or we might serve that ad to the individual, or serve them different content in their stream about small business and being a success in small business.”
But that same entrepreneur looking to build his company is often looking for information to build his own personal wealth as well. In other words, business owners who go to Forbes are also smart investors, so the demographic isn’t always what it seems. The same, Davis says, is true for readers from large enterprises being interested in a lot of technology, despite not being technological professionals themselves.
By using predictive intelligence, and consolidating all data sources into one holistic view of the customer, Forbes has successfully increased its readership across channels. “People come to channels more frequently,” says Davis. “We’re able to recognize that individual and then serve them different types of content and different types of advertising experiences.”
While predictive intelligence is a helpful tool for businesses and marketers, it’s not an all-in-one solution.
“I think the biggest mistake is thinking that the technology is going to control the process,” Davis says. “People are really more unpredictable than the technology, so I think you have to be open to serendipity and not rely solely on all the data points. You have to think of ways to enhance the experience that might be outside the data and test them and see what happens.”
The danger, he explains, is in alienating your audience. “If you don’t’ do that (go beyond the data), you start to look very big brotherish,” he says. “‘We know what you’re doing. We anticipate what you’ll be doing next.’ If you keep doing that — always one step ahead of people — sometimes that can backfire. It’s the ‘creep factor.'”
Learn the balance between creep and helpful — and lots more valuable insights on predictive intelligence — in this webinar with Davis, Martijn Scheijbeler, Growth, SEO & Analytics at The Next Web, and Boomtrain’s Director of Analytics Bob Colner.
They’ll be joined by VB senior analyst Andrew Jones who will be sharing insights on the kinds of tools essential to personalizing a user’s experience that will have them coming back for more.
Don’t miss out!
In this webinar, you will learn:
- How modern marketers have already started implementing the same powerful machine learning being used by Facebook and Amazon.
- How companies like The Next Web and Forbes Media have found success in repeatedly maximizing engagement through 1:1.
- What types of insights that machine learning will surface for you faster and with greater accuracy than previously available.
Martijn Scheijbeler, Director of Marketing at The Next Web
Tom Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at Forbes Media
Bob Colner, Director of Analytics at Boomtrain
Andrew Jones, Senior Analyst at VB Insight
Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat
This webinar is sponsored by Boomtrain.