Real-Time Marketing: State of Play

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Real-time marketing can entail everything from triggered emails to social media monitoring and digital coupons. Marketers say they lack the ability to search user-generated content in real time, which opens opportunities for software vendors.

Before the Internet, marketing usually involved printed coupons, catalogs, in-store displays, trained sales staff, and television commercials. But real-time marketing, which involves managing a customer’s digital experience, is now key. Window shopping, product listings, coupons, support, and shipping all now take place online. To add further complexity, search and user reviews are now the standard ways that customers initially find a product and determine if they will buy it.

To meet the challenge, real-time analytics, customer-relationship management software, and text analytics are all available to know customers and manage a brand. But marketers face a challenge in managing and gaining insight from all this real-time data. According to a 2015 Wayin survey of 200 marketing executives, 47 percent of marketers say limited budgets and resources prevent them from taking advantage of real-time marketing. Approximately 40 percent cited the inability to respond quickly enough—“real time” was defined as being in seconds to minutes—and the lack of search-analytics tools as challenges.

Real-Time Marketing Tools

According to the survey, respondents used a variety of tools to manage real-time moments. These include:

Marketing automation, such as triggered emails (62 percent). TripAdvisor excels in this area, sending personalized emails to members based on their location, browser search history, and activity on the TripAdvisor site. Case studies of TripAdvisor emails can be found here, and a study on how TripAdvisor uses Big Data and analytics can be found here.

Use of social media for engaging customers or responding to trends (58 percent). One famous example is Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” Tweet during the 2013 Superbowl. We’ve previously covered how Barclays bank used social-media monitoring to improve product deficiencies for their mobile payment app, and how sentiment analysis and text analytics is used in government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, and stock investing.

Personalized digital content based on interactions (57 percent): The Amazon and Netflix recommendation engines are frequently cited as examples.

Location-based deals through emails or apps (37 percent): One example, from RetailMeNot, involved AdvancedAutoParts, which developed an in-store and online offer of $5 off $25 or $10 off $50. The offer came from placements on the homepage, Twitter, Facebook, email, and mobile coverflow placement.

Another example of location-based marketing comes from Tibco, which implemented a real-time coupon redemption system for m-drogerie markt, Germany’s largest drugstore chain. Instead of waiting 24 hours for coupon redemption, Tibco’s solution allowed customers to redeem e-coupons at the point-of-sale system in less than 30 seconds. In the first four weeks of deployment, 1.58 million coupon requests were processed.

“The most effective strategies are now powered by real-time moments that require brands to be agile and creative on the spot,” the Wayin study states. “Over half of respondents believe a social media-monitoring tool to be the most important factor in executing real-time efforts and about a third of respondents employ at least five people to monitor social media conversations and respond in real time.”

This opens enormous opportunities for real-time analytics software providers. “Most marketers are using traditional listening tools, but they lack the ability to search and analyze customer-generated content in real time,” the report states. And while they’ve invested heavily in real-time efforts, “the majority feel the need to invest even more.”


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Chris Raphael

About Chris Raphael

Chris Raphael (full bio) covers fast data technologies and business use cases for real-time analytics. Follow him on Twitter at raphaelc44.

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