I still fondly recall the first time my mother took out her heirloom kaleidoscope. As she made small turns of the tube, we'd peer inside and marvel at the amazingly intricate patterns produced by the bits and pieces of colored glass at each turn.
As marketers, we can take the nearly infinite amount of data at our disposal, and with a slight turn of analysis produce intriguing patterns. However, unlike my mother's kaleidoscope, in which every pattern was beautiful, we need to apply a more discerning eye on the patterns produced from the millions or billions of bits and pieces of data we can now collect.
Today we can gather far more data than we can easily digest—because nearly every transaction or interaction creates a data element we can capture and store. How do you know which patterns are meaningful and worth action? The sheer scale of data can make for extremely complex data relationships and subtle patterns.
That is why data mining has become an essential part of pattern detection. Data mining is used to simplify and summarize data. The next step is to apply various techniques to tease out the meaningful patterns.
There are five common types of pattern detection every marketer should be familiar with:
- Anomaly detection
- Association learning
- Cluster detection
Anomaly detection is useful when you are trying to determine whether something is significantly different from the expected picture. You might use this approach to monitor customers at risk.
Association learning can be used to reveal customer purchasing patterns. For example, you might learn that customers who purchased product A and Product B also purchased Service X. Then you can create offers to target those specific customers.
Classification allows us to use data mining to classify new data into pre-determined categories, allowing marketers to create and apply rules. You might use this approach for opportunity scoring and qualification. Once the opportunity scoring model and categories are established, new opportunities can be appropriately classified and actions planned.