Timing Is Everything. Avoiding the pitfalls of real-time marketing

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by Sen Wang

March 21, 2018

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The buzz around real-time marketing is strong for a reason. According to the recent Resulticks’ Flab to Fab survey of 300 marketing pros, 70 percent of them feel good about real-time marketing. Nearly half identify it as a priority and are devoting significant resources to it. In many ways, real-time marketing is a race against time, a constant rush to keep up with the individual customers across touch points. Between the customer’s first and next interaction, before the opportunities for engagement slip away, marketers have to collect, integrate, and analyze critical customer intelligence so they can deliver compelling, highly personalized messages in real time, every time.

Hitting the speed bump

It’s a daunting task, but real-time interaction is totally achievable—with the right set of tools and capabilities: a sturdy big data platform, a dynamic rules-based engine, a unified view of the customer, and the ability to communicate seamlessly and contextually with individual audience members across channels. Even then, marketer beware. The road may not be as smooth at you’d hoped. Despite all the justifiable hustle, real-time marketing requires more than speed. Unfortunately, an immediate response sometimes comes at the expense of sustained, contextual conversations and at the risk of disregarding essential boundaries. This overeagerness, if unchecked, could mean a bumpy ride toward engagement, conversion, and continuous customer loyalty.

Desperation is bad for all.

It’s true—today’s advanced technology can achieve “real-time” interaction. Brands have the option to respond within milliseconds to their customers, but that doesn’t mean they should. What customers want is not a ceaseless barrage of messages, lobbed at them at every possible opportunity. They and brands want the same thing:contextualized, evolving interactions, facilitated at the right channels, at the right time. The speed and frequency of communications, then, need to align with the brand’s overall marketing strategy. Think about the next steps. Where are your customers right now, and where are they headed next? Is, for example, email the best channel at this specific stage of this particular campaign? Have all possible responses been taken into account? Are all potential responses contextual and relevant? It is underlying questions such as these, clarified with dynamic customer data, that should orient marketers’ real-time marketing campaign efforts, not the clamor of breaking news or the lure of topicality for its own sake.

Boundaries are there to be respected.

Customers want their experiences custom tailored and their needs swiftly met. They give brands access to valuable data in exchange for deeper levels of personalization, whatever the channel. But this doesn’t mean they have given up their privacy. It’s vital to keep in mind the difference between an appealing offer and a disturbingly invasive pitch that smacks of infringed boundaries. Trifling with customers’ trust will spoil profitable, hard-earned exchanges, but brands will suffer more than lost potential brand loyalists. In the age of GDPR, failure to comply with data regulations can have serious legal consequences, and as the push for data protection gains momentum, more troubles await the careless. A robust data management platform can come in handy here, sharpening marketers’ focus with a unified view of the customer and securely organized data sources.

Making real-time the right time

To keep up with their savvy customers, marketers need to interact with them at the right time in real time, and ensure that their well-timed responses enhance a continuous brand experience. An ill-timed response is no longer excusable, and can result when relevance and empathy are sacrificed for speed. The pitfalls of real-time marketing are real, but marketers can navigate their ways around them, with the right combination of content, strategy, and marketing technology. Resulticks’ platform combines omnichannel marketing automation and robust audience data management to empower marketers to orchestrate next-level, real-time marketing campaigns. Learn more here, or request a demo now.