The fast-flowing online market is creating new challenges for email marketers, forcing them to accelerate their pace to capitalize on real-time opportunities as they arise. As eMarketer reports, social media and mobile devices have driven fundamental changes in consumer behavior and opened up new avenues for consumers to engage with brands. The upshot, says Debra Aho Williamson, is that “the need to move faster is greater now than it has ever been.”
Big Data and the flattened marketing funnel have altered consumers’ buying habits and brought a new urgency and immediacy to email marketing. As Dan Woods on Forbes.com relates, “The world is now bursting with data from social media, web traffic, mobile devices and tripwires of all kinds.” The challenge, says Woods, “is to make sense of the data in time to matter.”
Marketers are realizing the big moments that happen on social are very fleeting, says Guy Slattery, VP of marketing at A&E Network. “If you can capitalize on those and be a part of them, that’s really the next level.”
To capitalize on opportunities that present themselves in social venues, marketers must put in place new systems and procedures to monitor, detect and capture them in real time. “Brands,” says Riley Gibson of Napkin Labs, “are building out entire teams and resources to be able to insert themselves into in-the-moment conversations.”
Many observers cite the “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” Oreos tweet after the lights went out during Super Bowl 2013 as a milestone moment in real-time marketing. For example, Debra Aho Williamson of eMarketer calls it a “legendary tweet” that signaled “the race toward real-time had officially begun.”
What experts also point out is that the Oreos marketers spent more than a year putting a sophisticated real-time response infrastructure in place to capitalize on that moment.
One approach that is gaining popularity, says Steve Hall of Popditto, is setting up “newsrooms” or social media command centers which are designed to monitor up-to-the-second brand-related activity occurring online and within social media channels.
Julio Viskovic of HootSuite also sees messaging centers as a means to capture real-time feedback from customers and monitor current events. Like many experts, Viskovic espouses the idea that real-time marketing must deliver a relevant message to the right person at the right time. The key challenge, he points out, is that “ideas must be developed in minutes rather than days or weeks.”
Campaigns Are Extinct
The advent of real-time marketing is causing some observers to pronounce the traditional marketing campaign obsolete. Among them is Steve Hall of Popditto, who says that, in order for marketers to embrace real-time marketing, they must leave the campaign mentality behind. What’s different, he says, is the speed at which brands must move to implement this new form of marketing and the tools they use to do so.
“The campaign is dead,” says Hall, and in its place is a continuous commitment marketers must make to “being there” when their customers are there.
New labels are being created to define the new marketing landscape. Nova Spivack calls the new brand of real-time web marketing Nowism. Social networks, he says, have sped up the timescale of digital marketing from hours to minutes to seconds. The real-time Web, he explains, has precipitated Nowism as a fundamental shift in how we understand and engage with information. It’s not only faster, says Novack, it’s also orders of magnitude bigger. “Instead of millions Web pages every month, we’re dealing with billions of messages every day.”
Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez also sees marketing undergoing “a deep transformation,” driven, he says, “by the rise of self-directed consumers and broad and instant availability of information online.” This means marketers must fundamentally change how they engage with prospects and customers, including new analytical tools to gain insights.
eMarketer believes the demands of real-time marketing require marketers to rethink the entire creative process. “Marketers know that they must speed up the ways they produce content and advertising to capture consumer attention in today’s fragmented media and device landscape,” says eMarketer.
Speeding up the pace of marketing also affects traditional market research, says Dan Woods of Forbes. Once conducted at a no rush, no hurry pace, real-time marketing demands a quicker tempo. “Technology has changed marketing and market research into something less like golf and more like a multi-player first-person-shooter game,” Woods says.
To respond to prospects in real time also requires email marketers to create buyer profiles and triggered email systems. Data quality remains critical to success. The rich demographic data need for profiling can be obtained via demographic appending, while missing and invalid email addresses may be obtained via email appending, validation and correction services.
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