Predictive Analytics: What is it and Why it is Important

Predictive Analytics: What is it and Why it is Important

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A vast amount of information is being collected online every day. Whether it’s names, email addresses, social media usernames, purchase history, hobbies and interests we’ve decided to share with the world via the internet, companies are now tracking and storing incredible amounts of data on every single one of us. One reason businesses are doing this is to get a better picture of who we are as consumers in order to make more strategic business decisions. However, collecting data without analyzing it is virtually useless to companies. With the help of technology, easier to use software, and more powerful computers, it’s becoming more simple than ever to gain valuable insights on anything related to business processes. This is especially useful to marketers for understanding consumer buying behaviors and motivation. The insights gathered can then be used to create more effective marketing campaigns and design more targeted customer specific messages and recommendations.

This process of using data, statistical analysis, and machine learning is what is known as predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics is becoming an essential part of businesses, especially activities related to digital marketing and ecommerce have benefited tremendously from this technology since it can help marketers make more strategic decisions about consumers. But what exactly is predictive analytics?

What is Predictive Analytics?                                                     

At its core, Predictive Analytics is computers learning from past experiences to make forecasts about what might happen in the future based on statistical likelihood.                 

Predictive Analytics uncovers statistical patterns and monitors processes to better understand the current business situation. Understanding how things are working now gives managers important insights on how one could improve situations for the future.                         

One particularly valuable aspect of predictive analytics is that it can figure out customer preferences and can forecast what kind of products are likely going to appeal to a particular target audience.


forecasting using technology

This is very useful in e-commerce because it helps save money and time since it can filter out advertisements for groups of individuals that are unlikely to want to buy particular products. The insights collected can help businesses get a “leg-up” on the competition, since knowing information about your customers that your competitors are unaware of could lead to a competitive advantage.

For example, e-commerce giant Amazon is a huge user of predictive analytics. Their highly sophisticated algorithms track data on their consumers, analyzes it, creates predictions about what they might be interested in purchasing next and can identify potential cross-sell opportunities. Amazon’s predictive analytics software can combine variables such as consumer’s demographic and psychographic information with data about past purchases to make product recommendations and create more targeted advertising. This helps Amazon sustain their competitive advantage and is a huge contributor to why they are so successful in the ecommerce space.  

However, it is important to keep in mind that predictive analytics is not a magical crystal ball that can foresee the future. Although predictive analytics is getting more sophisticated and accurate it is still just using math and statistics to come up with very educated guesses of what may happen.

Even if it’s not 100% fool proof, predictive analytics knowledge is important in order to compete in today’s market, especially in the digital marketing and ecommerce spaces. It is something every business needs to invest in to stay competitive because forecasting software can be used in virtually any industry.

Who Uses Predictive Analytics and Why they use it

No matter the industry, many firms can benefit from using predictive analytics to improve their business. Whether it’s a Banking and Financial Services company that needs to analyze their customer’s data to detect and reduce fraud and measure credit risk, Health Insurance companies who would like to know which patients are most at risk for chronic diseases and what the best treatment methods and interventions will be or Manufacturing companies who would like to optimize distribution and service processes or identify and reduce quality and production failures.

Of course, we can’t forget how much anything digital and ecommerce related can benefit from predictive analytics. Online Retail stores can use predictive analytics for countless activities including forecasting what merchandise is likely going to sell well, when to order and stock certain items, what items will appeal to particular markets, and it can help predict how effective certain promotional activities will be.

Predictive Analytics is useful in an array of business settings because it has features that are useful to many different industries. Some of the most important and widely used include:

Detecting Fraud and Reducing Risk

Predictive Analytic’s pattern detection helps spot criminal behavior and prevent it. Analysis can be done in real time to spot abnormalities and inconsistencies in order to fix the problems as soon as they arise.  

Improving Operations

Predictive analytics can help with managing resources and forecasting inventory needs. This ultimately helps businesses operate more effectively and efficiently.

Optimizing Marketing Campaigns

Predictive Analytics can be used to determine customer responses or purchases and can be helpful when trying to identify cross-sell opportunities. These forecasting models can help with identifying and retaining loyal and profitable customers and is tremendously valuable for companies whose activities involve digital marketing and ecommerce.   


Uses of Predictive Analytics

Why YOU need to use Predictive Analytics

In the current market, data is constantly being collected and analyzed in order to be used to optimize business processes. It’s no longer a question of whether or not a company should utilize predictive analytics since using predictive analytics doesn’t set companies apart from one another anymore. Especially in digital marketing and ecommerce, all successful firms use forecasting models to their advantage, that’s partly what makes those successful companies so successful. It’s become more of a necessity to understand and embrace predictive analytics in order to remain a competitive player in the industry. With improved technology and easy-to-use software, mathematicians and statisticians are no longer the only ones who can understand and apply forecasting models to make strategic decisions, making this technology more accessible to a wider audience. With time, forecasting will only continue to grow, so it is important to stay up to date with the latest technology and knowledge surrounding it.  

Predictive analytics is very intricate and at times extremely complex, so feel free to say “Hey” and reach out to us if you have any questions or comments about forecasting and how it can help your business succeed in the ecommerce space. We’d love to hear from you!


Creating an Effective Personalization Strategy

Creating an Effective Personalization Strategy

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Personalized Strategy? We can DO that!

As marketers, we all know that the easiest way to reach all of our customers at once is to use one generic, cookie-cutter strategy across multiple devices and platforms for many different industries, right? Wrong! (But we all knew that) This would be a great strategy if we didn’t want to connect with any of our customers on a personal level. Here at Digital Operative, we use an extremely personalized approach to understand your business, your goals, and your current and potential audience to help create a more connected brand ecosystem.

Chris Goward and Optimizely have defined a roadmap for creating a personalized strategy that touches on many of the processes that we at Digital Operative have instilled into our practice for developing highly-personalized strategies for all of our clients.

Step 1: Defining Personalization  

They begin with realizing the difference between segmentation and personalization.  Segmentation is to aggregate similar groups together where personalization represents the ultimate goal of customizing the customer’s experience to their individual needs and desires based on in-depth information and insights gathered from extensive research. We pride ourselves on scouring the market through primary and secondary research to learn the how, what, who, when, and where of your business. Our strategy and planning begin with gathering essential information and data needed to asses your current position. Every insight we find brings us closer reaching your audience on a personal level.

Step 2: Is personalization right for you?

Goward invites you to ask yourself three questions to help determine your eligibility for creating a personalized strategy.

  1. Do you have enough data about your customers?
  2. Do you have the resources to effectively personalize?
  3. Do you have a process for validating personalization ideas?

Strategically speaking, Digital Operative utilizes a personalized mix of branding, human feedback, and data to create a unique strategy that will allow us to understand who your customers are, what type of resources are needed to effectively reach them, and the most effective process for validating our insights. We use a refined approach to select only those insights that produce value. A lot of data and research is great, but can be worthless without a sound process for finding how such data can be of value.

Step 3:  Personalization ideation

Once we have collected the necessary research and data and boiled it all down to valuable insights, we then need to take a look at how to create customized ideas and messaging that will resonate positively with your audience. Below we list Goward’s comments on the use of three different methods for exploring personalized insights.

  1. Deductive research, which begins with your assumptions about how your customers will respond to messaging based on existing theories
  2. Inductive research, which is driven by insights from your existing A/B testing, that as you test, will materialize into personalized insights
  3. Customer self-selection, where you ask your users to self-identify, segmenting themselves, which triggers specific messaging based on how they respond

Here at Digital Operative, we dive into market research, customer feedback, and competitive landscaping to begin building a personalized Customer Journey Map that shows where your customers are, where they are headed, and what they are doing to create messaging that will resonate with them the most. In alignment with your goals, the Customer Journey Map dictates the most effective digital media mix, creative messaging, technology platforms, and marketing channels.

Our audience development strategy utilizes an audience-centric approach that chooses segments based on your business fundamentals. We develop personalized personas based on the insights we gathered that uniquely identify all the different audience segments that lead to creating more personalized messaging in which customers can relate.

I know the implementation of a personalized strategy can be a daunting task, but Digital Operative has the resources and and creative minds to understand your customer’s needs, develop a personalized Customer Journey Map, and keep up-to-date with all industry research to ensure proper execution throughout the process. Still have questions? Reach out, we’d love to chat strategy and planning with you!     

The Death of QR Codes & The Rise of New Technology

The Death of QR Codes and The Rise of New Technology

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As technology continues to progress at a faster rate than ever, certain technologies tend to be forgotten and left by the wayside. One of those being the invention of the QR code.

A QR code (short for Quick Response code) is essentially a more complex version of a barcode. It’s the black and white square image that is found on virtually everything, including food and drink items, posters, ads in magazines, flyers, etc. When the image is scanned, it is interpreted with the help of a smartphone app. This way, the image can be uniquely programmed to redirect a customer to a predetermined application or website.

Initially, the QR code was expected to be a major success for customers and marketers alike, since it was one of the first technologies to easily connect the real and digital world around us. But because it requires an additional application and is not always reliable (opening to inactive websites or not being scannable due to lighting conditions), it has grown to become more of a nuisance. Because of these downsides, new and improved technologies have emerged as a result. Here are two alternatives that may be giving QR codes a run for their money.

NFC tags

Near field communication (NFC) tags are one of the new tools that could potentially replace QR codes. Unlike QR codes, NFC tags do not require an extra application. The NFC chip technology already comes built into the majority of modern smartphones, which is a huge advantage. If a smartphone has NFC enabled, all someone has to do is touch or tap their smartphone against the NFC tag for the desired action to take place. This makes it a lot more convenient to use than QR technology.

Advantages of NFC

NFC tags are a lot more secure, flexible, and easier to configure than QR codes. Because of it’s more sophisticated encryption technology, we see NFC being used most often for mobile payments. Google Wallet and Apple Pay use NFC for transactions at stores because it’s reliable and safe. It’s also a lot easier to make changes and edit existing NFC tags versus changing and editing QR codes. To make changes to QR codes, one needs to create an entirely different code. In contrast, NFC tags can be edited easily, all one needs to do is go in and overwrite the old information. This makes NFC a lot more flexible since it can store different types of information and can be altered instantly.


Paying with NFC mobile payments in cafe

Obstacles for NFC

Since NFC tags are newer than QR codes, it may still take a little while for people to understand exactly what it does and how it works. It will take some time before the NFC symbol is as recognizable as the QR image but, because of the mobile payment feature, it’s definitely gaining more attention.



Image via


Another major hurdle for NFC is the fact that iPhones only support NFC’s mobile payment function. As of right now, iPhones, unlike the majority of Android smartphones, only support NFC because of its Apple Pay feature and does not support general NFC tagging functions. According to Statistica, in 2015,  43.5% of Americans who used a smartphone used an  iPhone. Because so many people own iPhones, it has stifled the wider adoption of NFC tags at the moment. This is likely to be a non-issue in the future once the other NFC features are supported by newer smartphones.


Another potential competitor to QR codes are SnapTags. One of the most common complaints about QR codes is that they are ugly. And although it may seem arbitrary, design and aesthetic are playing a bigger role in technology than ever. Consumers are attracted to colors and interesting designs, which is where QR codes fall short. The black and white square often looks out of place and tends to clash with the design of the rest of the packaging or advertisement it’s on. SnapTag helps with this issue.


How to create a SnapTag

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Advantages of SnapTags

SnapTag is similar to QR codes in that they are scannable images that access additional information marketers want consumers to know about. But unlike QR codes, they are more aesthetically pleasing and don’t require an extra application. SnapTags allow marketers to use any image they want (usually a company logo) and then surrounds it with a “Code Ring”. This Code Ring can be moved to thousands of different positions, creating thousands of individual codes, allowing marketers to store all the information they want on each unique code. By using SnapTags, one can seamlessly integrate a scannable code within the design of the overall product it’s being placed on, making SnapTags more subtle and less distracting than QR codes.

creating a SnapTag

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Another positive aspect of SnapTags is that one doesn’t need to install an application. Although there is an application one can download in order to scan and save SnapTags (which allows customers to access content later), it’s not required. Consumers do not need to download an extra app if they don’t want to. One can just snap a photo of the code ring image and send it as a text message to gain access to the information on the code.

Obstacles for SnapTags

As with NFC, SnapTags are not as widely known or used as QR codes. But because they have a better design, are more subtle, easier to scan, and have a multitude of tracking features that are useful to marketers they are a potential competitor to QR codes.

QR vs. NFC vs. SnapTag… why use them at all?

QR codes are still around and are probably going to be around for at least a little while longer. However, new technologies like NFC and SnapTag are constantly improving on the things where QR codes fall short. NFC and SnapTag are only a small sample of technologies that bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world. These tools offer great potential for marketers because it enables them to engage with consumers in a more unique way.

If you are looking for new, creative ways to engage with your customers, feel free to reach out to us anytime! We would love to help you out with any future marketing campaigns, just say “Hello” and we’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Conversion Rate Optimization

What is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why are we Still Confused?

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CRO Explained…. a little

There are so many questions about Conversion Rate Optimization, aka. “CRO” these days. I have frequent conversations with marketers from coast to coast on this subject and I’ve come to realize that we have a clear case of misinformation. Who is to blame for this ‘fake news’, you ask? The blame is on all of us actually.

I want to point out that while the internet has an enormous amount of information on crafting CRO strategies, a lot of it is less than optimal. My goal in writing this is to facilitate a paradigm shift in the way many marketers view the strategy behind CRO. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy conversing with marketers on the subject (and sounding smart whilst setting the record straight) however I’d like to get to a point where many of these aforementioned conversations pertain to customer theory learning and application as opposed to treatment wins/losses. Let me explain…

CRO is more about customer learning and less about winning a specific treatment over another. If you google something like ‘CRO’ or ‘A/B testing’ you will find several articles about these topics, some successful and some not so much.

So what constitutes a failed CRO strategy?

First of all, many marketers do not understand the full level of commitment required to engage and maintain a successful CRO strategy. An easy way to fail is to do what I like to call the ‘winning treatment only’ strategy. This involves creating test variations with the primary goal being to produce a ‘winner’. The main problem surrounding this strategy is that these types of tests are designed around the goal of getting a winning treatment, as opposed to proving or disproving a specific customer theory. This strategy will most-likely provide short-term gains however many companies who use this method fail to see long-term benefits and as a result, acquire a sour taste for CRO.

How does this happen so often?

Decision makers have been exposed to case study after case study of button color and copy changes with big up arrows and large percentages (often relative with no context which makes me chuckle). Marketers are often pressured through terms like ‘ROI’ or ‘Overall Conversions’ to direct CRO departments/agencies down this path and while many agencies attempt to push back, fools still gotta eat.

So what constitutes a successful CRO strategy?

Commitment is the key. Essentially, we need to transform the thought of CRO from a short term boost in conversions or revenue to a long term investment for the future. This investment can permeate through your entire business, not just internet sales. I mean, in what case would you not share valuable customer insights across the business. Creation of a customer theory document that can be shared across departments is a vital component.

The successful CRO strategy seeks to prove/disprove customer theories in order to learn what drives customers to complete various activities in-line with the goals of the business. Testing is just one method to uncover these insights. To put it another way, the CRO strategy is focused on validating hypotheses (win or lose) to learn, and less concerned with what the experience will look like in the future from what we learn now.

For example, if a test concept proves a hypothesis correct/not correct, we will then take that learning into account when we either design the next treatment or redesign the experience going forward. We will not necessarily always just implement a winning treatment. That conversation will be like, ok now we know xyz about these customers, now let’s either advance the learning into a new hypothesis (next in sequence) or design the best experience around that (and other) understanding(s) and the needs of the business. This process could take a couple of winning treatments and a couple of losing treatments to truly understand and design the best experience.

My purpose for writing this is not only to answer some common questions that I have been asked by many marketers, but to also help promote the common communication of what CRO is. As a result of all the miscommunication and failed attempts, and regardless of your position or title, we must all promote a paradigm shift in how we approach the strategy behind CRO.

I hope this piece sheds some additional light on what constitutes an effective CRO strategy and why it is important to think of CRO not of winning or losing treatments, but as a systematic approach at continuous customer learning and validation.

Still have questions? Reach out and say “Hello” we’d be happy to answer any questions you’ve still got about building a successful CRO strategy, we’ll even help you build it!

Google goes mobile first

Google Goes Mobile-First

By | google | No Comments

Intrusive interstitial penalties, mobile-first indexing and SEO, oh my!

We’re officially one week into Google’s mobile-first indexing and intrusive interstitial penalties. How are we all feeling? A little overwhelmed, panic, maybe a bit of anxiety? First, I just need everyone to CALM DOWN. January 10th came and then it went, and most of us went on with business as usual. So what really did happen and what should companies prepare for?  

Here’s what we need to recognize, good people of the business world, these are moblie times and if you want to keep up then you’ve got get on board. In this day and age it’s all about the consumer and giving them the best experience possible. I’m going to explain a little more about what Google is talking about when they say intrusive interstitial and mobile-first indexing. Then I’m going to give you a few tips and options for moving forward. Don’t worry, we will get through this.

Mobile-First Indexing

The stat is out and it looks like 75% of searches in 2017 will be done through a mobile device. That’s huge, so huge that Google is reconfiguring the way they index and rank pages. Here was the issue- more people are searching through mobile devices, but Google’s ranking systems were looking primarily at the desktop version of a pages content. This process would cause issues if the mobile site was lacking content from the desktop version because the search algorithms weren’t evaluating the actual page being seen my mobile users. In other words, mobile users were getting jipped.

Google to the rescue! The search engine giant, obviously, wasn’t going to sit back and let this continue to happen. So, towards the end of last year they started making changes, testing new algorithms in small batches and ultimately rolling out their mobile-first index. Check out their full explanation here.

Intrusive Interstitials- Please use responsibly

Tweet us if you’ve seen this image:

Google's example of interstitials that will be affected

Image via

It’s literally been in every article I’ve come across that covers the Google updates. Since I don’t want to disappoint or cause any confusion I’m going to use it too, thanks Google! The image above shows the three intrusive interstitials that have been labeled as creating poor user experience for the reader. An interstitial is a pop-up ad that requires a reader to close out the ad before they can access the information. The reasoning is sound- while the content is available for Google to index it, it’s obstructed by the interstitials, causing a poor experience for the viewer. Visitors to the site are frustrated because they are unable to seamlessly access the content they’d expected to find after clicking on the link.

With more and more individuals utilizing their mobile device to consume content, interstitials on smaller screens can be problematic. Which brings us to the penalty portion, if viewers can not easily access content on your site you will be penalized for this and your mobile search results may not rank as high.   

Now that I’ve showed you what you will be penalized for, let me also show you what is still acceptable:

Google's example of interstitials that won't be affected

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All of my friends who need to confirm the usage of cookies and verify ages, you’re safe. Also, as long as you’re reasonable with your pop-ups Google won’t ding you. Keep the banner ads small so that the content is still accessible and you should be just fine.

It’s not magic, it’s just best practices

I’ve said it once already and I’ll say it again, these are mobile times. How are you making the transition a seamless experience for the visitors to your site? Here are a few tips around keeping your rankings high and those penalties low.

  • First, I want to note that this only affects mobile searches. Your desktop rankings will remain the same.
  • Is your site responsive or a dynamic serving site where the content is comparable across desktop and mobile? If so, you shouldn’t have to do anything.
  • If your desktop and mobile site differs, you’ll want to start making some changes sooner rather than later.
  • Are your pages relevant to the search terms used to get readers there? Avoid clickbait at all times, it’s just bad form.
  • How are your page load times? What about those bounce rates? Slow page load = high bounce rates. High bounce rates = poor rankings. It’s all coming full circle.
  • If you’re uncertain if your site is mobile friendly or not you can always utilize Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Ultimately the main goal here is to make finding content easier for users and since the majority of users are on mobile that’s where the focus has shifted. Only time will really tell how this will affect all of us, but if you play by Google’s rules you’re as good as gold. Still concerned? Reach out with any questions, we’d be happy to help. 


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