Real-time marketing is not a new phenomenon, but has become increasingly popular thanks to the rise of social media and mobile marketing. The term real-time marketing can be used to incorporate many things, but is usually understood as the ability to interact with customers anywhere, any time. The focus of real-time is on the here and now, which from a brand’s point of view means having the data and technology in place to hold a deep understanding of the customer journey and the touchpoints where interaction could make or break a sale.
Although from the customer’s point of view real-time can seem spontaneous, the behind-the-scenes planning, system programming and data collection can in fact take time, money and effort from a brand in order to be successful. But is real-time worth the effort and inevitable challenges associated with it? What are the benefits of real-time marketing to your brand? Here are just two ways real-time marketing can work for you:
1. Create meaningful customer engagement
One of the key aims when it comes to real-time marketing is to drive engagement with your brand. A recent whitepaper by analytics and data management software company SAS (distributed by Marketing Week) discusses how real-time data, real-time decisioning engines (RTDs) and an awareness of customer context can combine to better create personalised offers and heighten engagement.
The whitepaper gives an example of a banking customer and a bank which wants to run a “next best offer” campaign. The bank holds real-time data on the customer, including their customer profile, their history of contacts and responses and a number of pre-optimised offers, for example a discount on a loan. This customer data is then used by the real-time decisioning engine to send the most appropriate offer to the customer at the most appropriate time, for example when the customer logs in to the bank’s mobile app.
This is just one example of how real-time data can be fed in to multiple channels of an organisation’s marketing strategy, but demonstrates how real-time enabled the bank to deliver a ‘timely and personalised communication resulting in an opportunity for a review conversation and product up-sell.’ By having a number of pre-programmed offers in place, this ‘significantly improved the bank’s ability to provide relevant communications to customers in moments of truth where a positive response [was] likely.’
The example given by SAS’ whitepaper demonstrates the need for real-time to operate in the right place at the right time, but also to understand the context in which the customer is initiating interactions with the organisation. Of course, this use of real-time requires having the mechanisms and platform integration in place in order to act upon the vast amount of data available on any given customer. While this does not happen overnight, investing time and money into building these processes will better enable brands to use real-time to foster engagement.
2. Enhance in-store and e-commerce experiences
Although most real-time marketing relies on technology in some form, this does not mean that it should not be used to enhance a customer’s experience in bricks-and-mortar stores.
According to CMS Wire, ‘retailers with brick-and-mortar operations are in an excellent position to take advantage of real-time marketing’ and also ‘have the advantage of being able to market to customers not just in real time, but also in person — when they are actually in the store.’
CMS Wire points to the use of Beacon Technology (technology that allows any venue that has beacons in place to detect where a customer is at any given moment via their mobile device) in real-time marketing in a retail context. By using this technology, retailers are able to send push notifications to promote products and send useful information related to the customer’s in-store experience. This could be in the form of offers and discounts on specific products, offering coupons or announcing sales items.
Yet when it comes to ecommerce, is this potential for real-time marketing lost? Not according to CMS Wire. Thanks to the rise of smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, CMS Wire believes that retailers’ capacity for real-time marketing has in fact increased and they have been graced with a valuable opportunity many other industries could only dream of. If the retailer in question can successfully integrate their ecommerce and in-store real-time marketing by mining data effectively and making the most of the technology available, the prospects for the trend are profound.