Why Marketing Needs to be Real-Time or it’s Already Out of Date

Kym ReynoldsThe following is a guest contributed post from Kym Reynolds, a senior marketing advisor for SmartFocus.

Real-time personalization is probably the biggest improvement in email marketing over the last few years. The ability to tailor an individual message at the time a customer opens your email is proving to have a large impact on campaign effectiveness.

The dictionary definition of real-time marketing is “marketing that is based on up-to-date events. Instead of creating a marketing plan in advance and executing it according to a fixed schedule, real-time marketing is creating a strategy focused on current, relevant trends and immediate feedback from customers.”

In practice, real-time marketing could be a particular piece of content or messaging that is sent to a customer that changes dependant on time of day, location, environmental factors such as the weather and the customer’s preferences.

It is revolutionary technology that enables the content within your marketing messages (whether via email, web or mobile) to adapt in real-time, based around your customer’s current context and when they decide to open your marketing message. When customers receive truly contextualized marketing messages, both response rates and subsequent commercial results soar

Marketing messages powered by real-time interaction management (RTIM) therefore allow the right offers, promotions and messages to be in front of each individual customer, in their preferred channels, in real-time. This gives a deep level of customer personalization that has never been possible before.

In this blog I will look at a few of the reasons why marketers should be taking real-time personalized marketing seriously:

Increased revenue – Being able to change the content of a marketing message in real-time means the message will be much more relevant and will lead to higher interest from customers. The more targeted the message, the higher the chances of making a sale because customers will not ignore the message, but be more inclined to read it and follow the call to action all the way to purchase. Research conducted by Econsultancy found that “businesses that use real-time personalization technologies see an average uplift of 19% in sales.”

Your customers expect it – With the huge amount of choice greeting customers for their hard-earned cash, they have become more discerning in what they choose to buy. “74% of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests and 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy.” With the rise of recommendation engines from the likes of Amazon and Netflix, customers are used to seeing content that relates to them and their preferences.

What sort of ROI can I expect to see?

81% increase in customer engagement

52% increase in brand perception

59% increase in customer conversion

52% increase in customer retention

46% increase in customer loyalty

35% increase in customer awareness

73% improvement in customer experience

Your competitors are already doing it – Some of your biggest competitors have already implemented real-time personalization and if they haven’t at the moment, they definitely will be doing it very soon and you will be left wondering why your customer base has suddenly dropped.

“94% of companies agree that personalization is critical to current and future success while 80% of marketers define dynamic personalization in email as highly important.” The positive thing to think about is your business can get a head start on your competition, whilst being seen as an industry innovator, and take business away from them.

It is easier than ever to implement – With marketing personalization becoming more and more prevalent in numerous industries, the cost of implementing it has dropped and will continue to drop over the next few years. The nature of technology is that it keeps getting easier to implement and cheaper to introduce, and real-time personalization is the same.

Privacy concerns have almost disappeared – Millennials belong to the first generation that is willing to give up more of their personal information to companies in return for more personalized service and more relevant products. According to our research “62% of consumers prefer personalized offers even if this results in less privacy”, while “34% of millennials said they don’t worry at all about digital privacy”. This shows that younger consumers are trusting companies to keep their data safe and offer them relevant content and products. Having grown up with computers, the internet, social media and messaging apps, these consumers are more relaxed with their data but need something in return for giving it up. It seems that data has become a sort of currency in this new world of real-time interaction.

To cater to tech-savvy, connected consumers that expect personalized products and service, companies need to up their real-time marketing game. When it provides so many benefits and is now becoming more and more inexpensive, it will become the next essential marketing tool to offer relevant content in the next few years.

That sounds cool, but how? –  To do this, you only need to have access to a few data fields updated in real-time. One of the most common is to use a weather feed by zip code, and create some simple message rules relating to rain/snow or sunny. So for example, you would serve up a certain message and visual if the email is opened on a sunny day versus a different message and visual if the email is opened on a rainy/snowy day. You can add additional personalization rules that are driven from other real-time data feeds such as last purchase, location, related news or sports updates, etc. Consumer feedback on this kind of personalization is very high, since it makes your messaging more relevant and timely.