Big data has many marketers thinking that real time is the answer for all marketing situations. Yes, real time is important, and it’s the fundamental difference between yesterday’s linear customer journeys and today’s modular and matrixed brand experiences. However, a more practical and effective way to think about it is to focus on the right-time data that you can use at the time that is most powerful.
Right-time data is the same data, but used at the time when it’s most meaningful to the customer and actionable by the marketer. This approach helps move us away from “I have the data, I must use the data” paradoxes to instead calibrate customer experiences to customer needs, and reduce the storing of perishable data that can be a drain on storage resources.
For example, all three of these data sources below are great for personalizing experiences, but not all the data from these sources creates a real-time imperative. Better, marketers can focus on making sure to use the right data in the right time in the customer or prospect lifecycle.
- Data from unhappy customers on Twitter, your website, or in the call center is data that can be effectively used to improve experiences in real time. Data from happy customers will have far greater impact if used to inform personas and plan the next best offer.
- Data showing that VIP customers are on-site (in store or website) can create powerful loyalty-building opportunities to engage with highest value audiences. One platform, BlinQLinQ is a real-time, customer engagement, and campaigning engine that automates outbound marketing to local consumers. It’s been used by many restaurants and local service organizations to connect in real time.
- Data from website transactions and content consumption is very powerful for real-time response – and repeat purchase. Data from email clicks and opens may better serve longer range analysis.
- Data from display ad interactions – particularly on sites that you do not own – is a powerful opportunity for placing offers in front of known and unknown audiences who may be in market for products or services (or additional content).
Sometimes the same data can be used in real time for some customers and at some later right time for another audience. It’s still important to curate data that you can actually use to improve experiences. Listening to customers in context with their demographics, loyalty status, and past behavior will help segment them into those who would welcome and benefit from a real-time experience, and those who would be better served to get this offer or information later.
It’s time to adopt this change in thinking now, and do some testing in the next few months. Right-time marketing is going to become even more valuable and important when more marketers start collecting and using data from “Things” – as in the Internet of Things like our cars and refrigerators. We will need to consider what data is actionable and important, and how to apply it to various customer experiences. Having some experience now with this approach will work to competitive advantage, and customer satisfaction.
This difference between real-time and right-time data is one that every marketing organization must continue to make as part of a big data strategy. Take some time to debate with your team how you can better use data across the lifecycle to connect intelligently with your various audiences.
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