When our attention span can be as short as eight seconds, capturing consumers’ attention is no easy feat. It doesn’t help that in the world of marketing communications, campaigns have traditionally centred on product news whereby a new product is introduced, or an existing product is updated, with the hope that customers will start purchasing it.

This time-bound approach to marketing campaigns has its flaws. Messaging to consumers tends to be developed around a specific event or product launch, with little, regard for information collected as a result of transactions and engagements the customer may have had with the company in the past. Because they are poorly targeted, such campaigns generate the most spam complaints in response to email marketing campaigns, and the majority of these emails remain unopened. This is not only a blow to ROI but could also cost your company customers who quickly become disengaged with a brand that doesn’t treat them as an individual.

“While I’ve got your attention…”

Marketers need to change tact. Modern marketing is increasingly reliant on harnessing real-time data to drive more meaningful, memorable and effective conversations with customers. Consumers today want to know what’s in it for them, and will not hesitate to go elsewhere – most likely to a competitor – if they are bombarded with irrelevant comms. Marketers, therefore, need to focus on crafting contextual, highly personalised content that draws the customer in, rather than makes them hit the delete button or mark it as spam. And this is where leveraging data, from transactions and interactions that customers have already had with a brand, proves invaluable.

Transactional communications can include up to 40% non-transactional content, which means that although the primary purpose of the communication needs to remain fit for its original purpose, it can present an opportunity for brands to continue the conversation beyond that transaction. And if a brand expects to take advantage of information, such as location data, to make the transmission of such messages even more timely, then they need to present the information in a ‘mobile first’ way for the customer on the go.

And it’s mobile that has had the most profound impact on customer engagement and satisfaction, with consumers now demanding instantaneous gratification from any interaction with a brand. The very nature of the ‘always on’ society means that consumers expect to be able to communicate with companies 24/7.

By bringing real-time demographic data, location triggers and behavioural information into one place to appropriately engage with customers marketers, customer services and IT can work collaboratively to manage information better and ensure content is highly personal to the individual customer at every turn.

Too much of a good thing?

However, there is a fine line between communicating with customers, and spamming them. Too many messages or content overload needs to be avoided at all costs. If real-time information is used too often or out of context, it can quickly become annoying for a consumer and can feel like an invasion of their privacy and personal space. This is counterproductive and goes against the reason real-time data was used in the first place.

Part of the problem is that few companies have a single system that orchestrates multiple campaigns for every department and enterprise customer, meaning there is very little control over when and how often customers are contacted. It’s all very well having access to huge swathes of customer data, but if it’s not possible to transform this into actionable customer insights, then the data’s value diminishes considerably.

The other key consideration here is how quickly a customer’s situation can change. Targeted communication stands the best chance of being successful if it can be delivered within minutes of it being relevant, not days or weeks later, when it is no longer relevant. Companies, then, need to gain a holistic view of subscribers by consolidating CRM data and marketing activity across multiple channels, with unified messaging rules ensure consumers aren’t bombarded with messaging.

Goodbye time-bound, hello real-time

It’s time to put time-bound messaging out to pasture. Real-time marketing is all about taking data and using it to deliver the right information, at the right time to the right person, through the right channel, on the right platform.

Customers want to be treated like individuals. Delivering personalised and highly targeted information based on their current location, preferred channels of communication and transactional patterns is a sure way to do this, and this ultimately boosts positive customer engagement. Those companies that embrace this strategy stand the best chance of gaining, retaining and delighting customers now, and in the future.

 

By Xavier Legrand, senior product manager at Engage Hub


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