The hottest trend in email marketing this year is real-time data-used mainly to understand buyer personas and trigger personalized emails in response to prospects’ activities. As Yesmail reports, “By now, most marketers have picked up on the enthusiasm around real-time data.”
That real-time marketing is the next big trend is being proclaimed by pundits and analysts of all stripes. Among them are McKinsey & Company’s Peter Dahlström and David Edelmanin, who in “The Coming Era of ‘On-Demand’ Marketing,” assert, “emerging technologies are poised to personalize the consumer experience radically-in real time and almost everywhere.” For marketers, the authors suggest, “It’s not too early to prepare.”
This view is echoed by Silverpop in its “6 Key Marketing Trends for 2013,” which tells us “savvy marketers are ratcheting up the collection of data and looking more and more to customer and prospect actions to guide how they communicate with each individual person in their database – across channels and in real time.”
Likewise, eMarketer proclaims “the age of real-time marketing is nigh,” based on its assessment of dozens of research surveys and other data sets, as well as insights from interviews with industry executives.
Big Data & Real-Time Marketing
The concepts of real-time marketing and Big Data are closely related, with real-time marketing involving the monitoring of Big Data streams to harvest information to create buyer profiles, understand trends and trigger emails in response to real-time actions.
For many email marketers, real-data means adopting a new mindset and skill set to utilize real-time data tools and techniques in marketing campaigns. Thus, although real-time marketing is growing in importance, says eMarketer, many marketers are unprepared to take advantage of the opportunity. “Marketers must walk before they run; as tempting as it is to explore real-time engagement, they need to have a solid social analytics infrastructure in place first.”
Similarly, Yesmail reports that while it’s obvious that marketers realize the importance of real-time data, many don’t yet have the ability to make widespread use of it. “Real-time data will force business model changes,” says Yesmail, explaining that “most businesses will have to become more nimble and agile to work with real-time data.”
HubSpot, in its “20 Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2013 and Beyond,” also points to real-time marketing as a major trend, with email marketing becoming less “batch and blast” and more personalized, relevant and targeted based on real-time data. The concept of “campaigns” is fading, replaced by real-time marketing, the study asserts. HubSpot also sees marketing becoming “smarter” as dynamic content enables marketers to serve highly personalize messages to the right audience at the right time.
Value of Real-Time Marketing
Analysts, meanwhile, are busy measuring the effectiveness of real-time marketing. GolinHarris interviewed 3,200 U.S. consumers to learn about the value of real-time marketing, which it defines as systematic, multi-channel engagement based upon real-time insights. In “Four Reasons to Add Real-Time Marketing to Your Mix” GolinHarris reports that real-time marketing “is grabbing more attention as a must-have for any modern marketing mix.”
The study found that real-time marketing provided a “dramatic lift” to each of five coveted outcomes: positive perceptions; interest in a product; likelihood to seriously consider, choose or try a product or brand; and likelihood to recommend a product to others.
For market leaders, said GolinHarris, real-time marketing can play an important role keeping loyal customers engaged. Legacy and challenger brands also can leverage real-time marketing to help level the playing field against competitors and enhance consumer receptivity to their stories.
“Real-time marketing delivers what marketers want most,” says GolingHarris, concluding that real-time marketing “provides demonstrable value for companies that apply it.”
Edelman’s Monte Lutz also proclaims that “the real-time imperative is here,” reporting that Edelman clients that have used real-time data to create “opportunistic content” have seen a 400 to 600 percent increases in engagement.
In its study on the use of Big Data in marketing, Aberdeen Research reports that top-tier marketers are able to make use of real-time data to outperform less successful peers. Best-in-class marketers, says Aberdeen, are 85 percent more likely than the industry average and 110 percent more likely than laggards to generate a behavioral profile based on real-time click-stream analysis.
Data Quality Is Key
Integral to real-time marketing success is data quality. As Experian QAS explains, accurate data allows businesses to more easily search information, combine duplicate records and analyze data. Experian QAS advises businesses to utilize automated verification processes and incorporate technology that continues to clean information over time.
Yesmail, too, maintains that performing data hygiene is imperative to success in real-time marketing, pointing out that clean data is required to make sense of collected information and achieve more precise targeting.
And the same goes for Aberdeen Research, which advises companies to “evaluate data cleansing/hygiene technologies.”
In addition to data hygiene services, demographic appending services can contribute to real-time marketing success by providing the missing data needed for buyer profiles. As Experian QAS explains, marketers need consumer demographic and behavioral details to better understand prospects to achieve a personal approach, adding that “they need to combine buying patterns with purchase history, third-party demographic and behavioral intelligence.”
Exact Target also advises email marketers to collect demographic and behavioral data from corporate websites, email programs and CRM systems and to use the data to target messages to the audience that’s most likely to convert. Again, any missing profiling data can be obtained through the use of demographic appending.
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Photo Credit: Scott Beale