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Shazam, the app that can identify songs by listening to just a brief sample, has seemingly been around since the Stone Age of mobile apps. Shazam has been relevant for so long that it has achieved status as both a noun and a verb (“Who sings this song? Oh, never mind — I’ll just Shazam it.”) But recently, the company revealed something new — it can, in fact, predict the future with its tagging data.

As a prime example, the company-released data showing a massive spike in tags for Meghan Trainor’s universally recognized hit, “It’s All About the Bass.” That data proved to be an indicator of good things to come, having been followed by a secondary wave of sales, Spotify streaming, and finally, terrestrial radio play. As if to prove that Trainor’s hit wasn’t just a fluke, the company added a tab on its website called “Future Hits,” which features a number of new songs that have garnered lots of Shazams and will, presumably, soon enjoy significant monetization.

Shazam Data

Image courtesy of Shazam via http://www.businessinsider.com/shazam-charts-on-all-about-that-bass-by-meghan-trainor-2015-3

This is a predictive analytics success story that marketers in every industry should be inspired by. The Shazam story is so miraculous because it highlights hidden data that music retailers would have never thought to look for until it was surfaced. It’s the missing piece.

It’s a great time to look for your company’s hidden predictors. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Which activities do your customers engage in before they buy from you?
  • Which kinds of marketing data points are good predictors of sales?
  • Which kinds of behaviors should we start measuring?

What’s more, Aberdeen research shows that 42% of Best-in-Class organizations are already creating models of customer buying behaviors and processes to map their customer journeys. Additional customer experience management research also shows that organizations that have a program to map and manage customer journeys experience 79% higher annual increases in cross-sell and upsell revenue, which reflects a similar principle to Shazam’s ability to predict future sales based on present user / customer data.

When you do dig into your data by using the questions noted above, the answers you find may surprise you. One such “Shazam moment” came for me a few years ago when I was running a marketing team that did, among other things, paid search for our clients. After hitting a wall on ROI with Google AdWords, the team decided to test paid search with Bing and Yahoo as well. The results from our digital conversion measurement didn’t look any better, but our clients reported that they were getting substantially more customers. We couldn’t figure it out.

About the time we were going to cut budget to the new paid search tests, we implemented a call tracking platform. The technology enabled us to gain visibility into lead sources that resulted in inbound calls. Suddenly, we saw that the new paid ads were responsible for most of the inbound calls that were generating more customers. For some reason, the prospects using Yahoo and Bing were more apt to make phone calls than submit search forms.

The call tracking data was the missing piece we had been looking for. After that discovery, our job was simple – we just had to invest more in the ads that were driving the best calls. Never one to be easily satisfied, however, my team and I created a new call tracking system tailored to enterprise customers tracking their data in CRM, which in turn, led to a new company altogether. As CMO, I now have the pleasure of helping others unlock predictive data.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your company’s “Shazam data”?

William TyreeAbout the Author: William Tyree is a marketing technologist and CMO of RingDNA, a sales acceleration company for companies using Salesforce. His articles about strategy, technology and data have appeared in Forbes, Entrepreneur, the Salesforce Blog, ProBlogger and elsewhere. Connect with William on Twitter at @williamtyree or on LinkedIn.

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