Business intelligence is becoming routine thanks to various tools that allow organizations of all sizes to analyze metrics and large amounts of data in real time. This allows businesses to get real, in depth insight into operations without having to go to IT or a third party to run and analyze reports. This data can be invaluable when properly applied in sales and marketing. The challenge is using this intelligence to improve your operations. Here are 6 ways business intelligence can be applied to marketing.

Identify Your Best Customers

Your sales department may focus on landing big orders, but these may not be your best customers. Business intelligence allows you to identify the more valuable customers, those who regularly and reliably place sizable orders.

You can use business intelligence software to rank customers by the size of their orders, the frequency of their orders and their profitability. You could then use a CRM system to follow through based on preferences. Combine that with when they last placed an order, and you can focus on those whose purchases have trailed off. Or, you could build a profile of your most profitable customers and work on cultivating those who could become equally profitable. This has a higher return on the investment than new customer acquisition.

Eliminate the Time Wasters

Your team only has but so much time. You should prioritize your efforts on the most profitable customers and stop pouring unnecessary time and effort into low value customers.

Use business intelligence to rank customers by profitability. Make your priority the more profitable prospects. With time, you can further rank customers by their return rate, how quickly they pay, and how often they complain. If they’re constantly complaining, returning things or landing in collections, end the business relationship. Then, you’ll have more resources to dedicate to profitable prospects.

Increase the Accuracy of Sales Forecasts

When your sales forecasts are accurate and timely, they are quite valuable. You don’t end up with excess inventory you have to mark down to move. You don’t lose out on potential sales because you didn’t have enough inventory on hand. You end up with accurate inventory levels and higher profit margins. But, more importantly, you can forecast profits and cash flow more easily, which allows you to get access to financing or make a better case with investors.

Business intelligence allows you to do this because it can accommodate for seasonal demand, inventory turnover, and product promotions. You can factor in causal variables and outliers. Forecasting becomes much easier and more accurate, because you are going well beyond the trend lines based on sales history. As business intelligence systems allow you to check recent sales data and update forecasts, you can make better, faster procurement decisions.

Calculate the ROI of Your Marketing Efforts

Business intelligence software allows you to monitor the success of promotional activities. You can see which marketing campaigns or promotions do not just generate the most sales but have the greatest return on the investment. This will not only allow you to allocate resources to the best performing ones, but allow you to do some better testing as well.

You can also determine which marketing campaigns have the greatest impact on brand awareness in targeted markets. You’ll be able to market smarter and maximize the revenue generated by every marketing dollar spent. Furthermore, detailed data analysis could allow you to identify new opportunities for sales and growth. For example, niches that have very high ROI for relatively little money could be allocated more money. Monitor the results via BI software and verify your returns.

Take Advantage of Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics refers to the process of analyzing data to predict future trends. For marketers, the best application of business intelligence is predicting the behavior of individual customers. It can inform your automated email campaign so that you send out the right marketing messages for their stage in the sales funnel. It allows you to send discounts and coupons to those who are close to abandoning their shopping cart or lure shoppers into making a repeat purchase. Conversely, it may give you warning signs if there is a problem so that it can be addressed before you lose a customer.

A business intelligence MBA will be better equipped to optimize customer relations as well as monitor business activity. An online business intelligence mba allows you to support decision making with data. For example, predictive analytics is not just for determining the best messaging for customers based on past behavior. It also allows you to offer recommendations to customers based on their profile and past behavior that they are far more likely to buy. Advanced education allows you to learn how to retrieve data from business processes and manage data so that you can dive deep into the data for insights out of the box reports won’t give you.

Minimize Time Spent Analyzing the Past and Plan for the Future

One of the greatest benefits of business intelligence tools is that it can generate a “dashboard” you can use to monitor the progress of the company. Managers can tailor the dashboard to show performance relative to key performance indicators for their department. It cuts through a lot of junk data and extraneous information to share the metrics that matter. This reduces the amount of time spent analyzing data and frees up analysts to plan for the future. Furthermore, the ability to compare multiple key performance indicators side by side could foster insights. For example, you can tell which channels have the highest conversion rate, and you can tell where your best leads are coming from. Marketers know immediately which channels to cultivate. And, you avoid the mistake of dedicating time to marketing channels that generate significant traffic but result in few sales.

Conclusion

Business intelligence allows organizations to analyze massive amounts of information fast and act on them. Marketing teams can capitalize on business intelligence in a variety of ways that reduce costs and maximize revenue.