Next-best-action marketing

Next-best-action marketing (also known as best next action or next best activity ), as a special case of next-best-action decision-making, is a customer-centric marketing paradigm that considers the different actions that can be taken for a specific customer and decides on the ‘best’ one. [1] The Next Best Action (an offer, proposal, service, etc.) is determined by the customer’s interests and needs on the one hand, and the marketing organization’s business objectives, policies on the other. This is in sharp contrast to traditional marketing approaches that first create a proposal for a product and then attempt to find and qualify for that proposition. This practice,direct marketing , is often product-centric, and usually always marketing-centric.

Further positioning

The next-best-action paradigm is very much suited to inbound customer communication because a customer making contact will be accepted by the company, complaint, inquiry, etc. Leveraging Next Best Action will enable the company to respond to the customer’s needs during the interaction, while ensuring that the action taken also benefits the company. In this case, a call center or branch agent would be enabled to follow a script in their communication with the customer, which would then be more important to the company’s marketing goals. Nothwithstanding its relevance to inbound customer next-best-action marketing communication is also applicable to outbound communication.

Enabling technology

Since early this century, the technology has been reliably achievable next-best-action capabilities in high-volume and real-time. [2] Typically, this requires a multi-channel, centralized decision-making authority with regard to the customer (see Enterprise decision management). This “decisioning hub” leverages “decision logic” that combines the company’s business rules with predictive and adaptive (aka self-learning) decision-making models to help determine how to approach the customer. The decision making authority takes into account each customer’s expectations, propensities and likely behavior through the use of predictive modeling. Interfaces that can leverage this intelligence should also be used in the context of the agent and the agent (or the system itself) in the future. The approach taken may be to make an offer, resolve a complaint, or to make some other kind of recommendation (or a combination of all of these).


The Next Best Action is not only applicable in marketing. A similar concept was suggested by John Boyd of the United States Airforce ( OODA Loop ). In a military context, with local decision-making versus planned campaigns and objectives. In business-as-a-business-to-business-to-business-to-business-to-business-and-business-to-business-and-business-to-business

From a business perspective, the rise of the next-best-action paradigm has been triggered by an increasing emphasis on inbound marketing . Organizations have found that inbound channels (web, call center, ATM, branch, etc.) are increasing in recent years, while outbound channels (direct mail, cold calling, etc.) are increasingly challenged. The reason for this is threefold: 1) customers have become less tolerant of receiving outbound marketingsolicitations; 2) new regulations limit spam or spam-like activities, telemarketing calls and direct mail; and 3) customers are highly internet savvy.

Benefits and drawbacks

Although the new paradigm is elegant, both in its business and technical implications, it faces two challenges. The first complication is that they are organized in a product-oriented way. This means that product managers have specific volume or revenue targets. Traditional campaign management is very much aligned with this. The Next Best Action paradigm, although capable of reflecting the same priorities, is normally used for bottom line optimization. Organizationally this means that different lines of business will need to collaborate to define next-best-action strategies, and goals may need to be reset to reflect the customer-centric nature of the new processes. The second complication is its unpredictability. It does not matter how it works, it does not matter how it works. There are implications for supply (chain) management, staff incentive schemes, budgeting, and service level agreements. Next-best-action strategies can be made predictable again by simulating them in advance.


  1. Jump up^ Hayward, Neil (April 29, 2009). “Five rules for the next-best offer in marketing” . Retrieved May 1, 2009 . Stop thinking of next best offer and instead of the best action … Is there a complaint?
  2. Jump up^ Walker, Rob (June 26, 2007). “Next-Best-Action Marketing: Creating the Segment of One” . Retrieved May 1, 2009 . Next Best Action Marketing … enable companies to make real-time decisions about their customers based on individual conversations, and provides the framework for the customer conversation to unfold naturally.