Thursday, 23 July 2015

Why Your Business Needs Predictive Analytics

Predictive AnalyticsPredictive Analytics is a term commonly used in conjunction with ‘Big Data’, but without really understanding the meaning of the term, the concept can be pretty useless. So, let’s find out what exactly Predictive Analytics is and why it can be beneficial for your digital marketing campaigns.

Predictive Analytics is the use of data science for audience profiling. Generic audience profiling involves determining specific characteristics of your target audience and creating specific personas to represent each type of person within your target audience. Predictive analytics is essentially the same process, but from a data perspective.
By reviewing your past data you can determine key behavioural characteristics which determine the likelihood of whether or not a user is going to convert. By extracting these behavioural characteristics, you can build a formula which will allow you to calculate how likely a user on your website is to convert. This will allow you to determine which users are worth chasing and which aren’t so that you can ensure your marketing efforts are correctly targeted and your business is as profitable as possible.

Identifying Your Predictors

The driving behavioural characteristics within Predictive Analytics are known as predictors. These can be any behavioural characteristics which determine the likelihood of someone converting, for example; length of visit, location, etc. These predictors are then used within a model (a formula) which allows you to calculate the profitability of a specific type of user. Predictors should be combined within a model and the more predictors you use, the more accurate your analysis will be.
For example, let’s say your data shows you that proximity plays a role in conversions; i.e. the closer a user is to your premises the more likely they are to convert. Additionally, the longer a user spends on your website, the more likely they are to convert. In this scenario, you would use the formula;
Location + Visit Length = Conversion Probability
You would assign higher values to locations closer to your premise and then focus your marketing efforts on user types with a higher conversion probability.

The Models

There are three different ways (known as models) in which the practice of predictive analytics can be leveraged.
Descriptive Model – Analyses historical and current data to determine relationships and trends to identify what action needs to be taken moving forward. This is the model most commonly used in businesses.
Predictive Model – Analyse past data to determine how likely something is to happen. This model should be used when you have a specific desired outcome and you want to calculate the probability of that outcome taking place.
Prescriptive Model – Analyses all elements of the decision involving variables to predict the outcome of those decisions. This model looks at all possible outcomes of a decision and the likelihood that each will occur; allowing you to manipulate the situation to increase the probability of your desired outcome. This model is great when expanding your business as it can be used to understand what other potential products your users may be interested – so you can increase your product offering.
The model you choose would depend on the purpose of your analysis. However, one thing that is crucial in all instances is that before a model is implemented you must have an understanding of the goals and objectives you are looking to achieve from your analysis.

Your Business and Predictive Analytics

By implementing Predictive Analytics your business can gain a whole host of insights which otherwise may have gone missed. Obviously the way in which you deploy this method of analysis is completely dependent on the goals and objectives you are attempting to satisfy, but some key reasons for using Predictive Analytics are:
  • Identify user groups with the highest probability of converting so that you can create digital campaigns to target this specific audience.
  • Identify gaps in your existing product offering to expand your business in an informed, profitable manner.
  • Determine which user type are worth chasing. Just because you want your target audience to be a certain type of user, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to be the most profitable for your business.
  • Identify the likelihood that upcoming marketing campaigns are going to succeed to determine where or not they are worth the investment.

The Caveats

CaveatsA common misconception of Predictive Analytics is its ability to predict the future. Whilst your analysis will give you a more accurate view of the future than simply stabbing in the dark, it is important to remember that the analysis is based on probability, and therefore no analysis will ever be 100% accurate. There are several reasons why it’s not a fail-safe:
  1. Historical data is not a direct reflection of things to come – other variables are always being introduced which can influence trends moving forwards.
  2. When creating your Predictive Analytics model there may be unknown variables i.e. external economic issues, weather conditions.
  3. Models can easily be manipulated to show favourable data – as with all analysis it is possible to manipulate your model to show data which supports the argument you are trying to make.  It’s no coincidence there is so much conflicting research out there!
Because of these three factors, the revision of your model should be an ongoing process.  New variables should always be considered and introduced and testing should be carried out on a regular basis.

Some Examples

Let’s give you a few examples of where Predictive Analytics is used on an everyday basis, so you can fully understand the concept of use:
  • Amazon’s product recommendations – Amazon use previous purchases data and behavioural characteristics of users to determine what other products they may be interested in.
  • Facebook’s news feed – Facebook use behavioural characteristics to determine the probability that you will be interested in and interact with a certain post within your news feed. Those with a higher probability will be posted higher up on your news feed.
  • Email spam filtering – by analysing your past behaviour, email spam filtering uses data to determine the likelihood you’ll be interested in a particular email and whether or not it should be marked as spam.

So hopefully this has given you a good understanding of Predictive Analytics and why it can be beneficial for your digital campaigns.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know about Pinterest Business Accounts

We all love Pinterest on a personal level, right? It is a fun idea, using visual media rather than the usual form of social blogging that we are used to.

As far as business applications are concerned we all know we should be utilizing Pinterest as the valuable tool it is. But because it is so specific (It’s all about visual content!) it can seem a bit intimidating. How do you actually use it? Does it really work?

The answer to the latter is a resounding ‘Yes!’ Pinterest has been used by many brands, big and small, to improve everything from visibility to traffic, and can even be leveraged into full sales conversions.
Due to the versatility of the tool itself, and the wide range of uses it will have from company to company, your success is directly proportional to the time and creativity you put into it.
Pinterest is not just for fun niches! Bank of America used Pinterest to gain lots of exposure:

In less than 5 months, BMH content on Pinterest reached nearly 6 million unique Pinners, generated more than 29 thousand repins and led to thousands of actions on


Pinterest Business Accounts

In many ways the business account is similar to the personal account. Where the differences lie are in the features, and there are some that are available only to businesses. These give a brand the tools it needs to properly make its mark on the network.
Pinterest Analytics (Free!)

First, there is the cool analytics feature. While there are third party platforms out there that will monitor analytics for you, and they work well enough, Pinterest has their own dashboard which is free (There’s no other free alternative for Pinterest, mind you). You will be able to watch patterns over time, and put together reports that show you how your pins are performing.
Once you have that data, you will be able to better narrow down a content strategy. What pins are being shared most? Which are engaging through comments or likes? Is there some visual component that seems to be matching, or is it the content itself the image is representing?

Analytics is especially important for seeing the success of the next business specific feature: rich pins. These are pins that can be filled out in a format more fitting to the content and user intent.
For example, recipes can be written in a recipe form, listing the ingredients and instructions under the image. Movies, books and other media can have ratings. Soundcloud files can be integrated to be played in the pins, as well as YouTube and Vimeo videos.
Perhaps the most vital is a rich pin for product selling. You can list prices and product specifics right in your pinnable image meaning that users will be able to see it’s a product to buy when clicking the image in a pin.

Product rich pin

Promoted Pins
Once you have posted your pins, you may be able to feature them. Promoted Pins was launched in 2014, and it is still a limited product. It works by allowing you to target specific audiences, which determines the cost. You only pay per visit that results from that pin.
You have to join a waiting list. While that is a shame, it is worth throwing your business on there for the chance to use this excellent promotional tool.

Buyable Pins
The most recent addition (and the one I still need to play with personally) looks very promising for retailers. Your buyers can buy from you directly from Pinterest.
Sounds like fun especially for emotional shopping 😉
You’ll need to sign up to the waitlist but you have no chance to be accepted unless you represent a business account.

How To Set Up A Pinterest Business Account

Now that you see the benefits, it is time to get started!
Step 1 – Sign Up as a Pinterest Business Account
Go to the Pinterest For Business page, and sign up for an account. If you already have a personal account you have set up for your brand, or you want to take a personal account and make it brand specific, you can convert it on the same page. This is great news for the many who got started before Pinterest released business pages.

Convert business

Once you have your account, it is time to optimize it. Provide your business name, a logo, and write an informative but simple, keyword rich description. Usually your slogan will be enough, along with an explanation of what you do.
You should also provide a URL to your website, and verify it with Pinterest so it shows as an active link on your profile.

Step 2 – Begin Building Your Pinterest Business Account
From there, it is similar to setting up a personal account. You want a wide range of related boards where you will pin your own content, as well as share others to drive traffic to your profile. Make sure all boards are using an attractive cover image, and have titles that match popular keywords.
Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest is not limiting its business entities in any way: You are free to follow anyone and interact with anyone (be it a person or another business page) which helps a lot in growing your presence.

Begin using your account regularly, and watch it grow!
If you have other social media accounts (of course you do), you can promote your profile on them. You would be surprised by how many people will follow just because you took the time to ask. Which puts your content on their front page, and will increase the chances of them seeing your new pins.

Step 3 – Optimize Your Pinterest Business Account Strategy
Once upon a time, Pinterest was available on Hootsuite. For some reason, that is no longer the case. Which has given many people the false impression that there are no social dashboard tools for Pinterest.
There are actually several, but the most popular right now has to be Tailwind. It is a  more advanced analytics tool, scheduler and monitor. If you do have Hootsuite, you can add an app for Tailwind. So you can technically use it for Pinterest, if in a very roundabout and inconvenient way.
In any case, having a third party tool to improve your Pinterest use should be a requirement for all business accounts. The difference it makes is incredible


That is all it takes! Creating a Pinterest business account, or converting a personal one into a business account, it surprisingly easy. It is also a necessity for brands today, whether you are specializing in a tangible product, content, or a service.
With a bit of creativity, you can improve sales, traffic, and brand visibility. So get started on your Pinterest marketing strategy today with your own business account.