The industry is abuzz with news and views on real-time marketing: what it is, what it isn't, and why it matters. Yet many digital marketers are still wondering if the illusion of real-time marketing will live up to the reality of delivering the right experience to the right user at the right time.
Understanding the power of real-time marketing is often difficult because it is basically a "see it to believe it" technique. Because of this, many people have opinions about it that simply are not correct. Let's go through some of the most common myths and debunk them. Now is the time to end the debate.
None of my competitors are using real-time marketing. Why should I?
You need to use real-time marketing to stay ahead of the game. Evergage recently commissioned a survey of 114 digital marketers in 18 countries to determine their perceptions of real-time marketing. In the study, 88 percent of marketers consider real-time marketing important to their 2014 plans, 76 percent are already using real-time marketing today, and 41 percent have included it in their budgets. This means that your competitors aren't just thinking about real-time marketing in the long term, they are thinking of using it to fill an immediate need to give your customers what they want, when they want it.
Real-time marketing is all about social media.
Social media is really "near-time" marketing. As digital marketers, we're guilty of using the term "real-time" rather loosely. While social media was once considered the only form of real-time marketing, with today's advanced technology, social media is now more accurately described as "near-time marketing." In our recent survey, when asked what qualifies as real-time marketing, 76 percent of marketers recognize "personalized content or creative in response to customer interactions" as real-time marketing. Truth be told, social media monitoring is an important digital marketing activity but it is not real time. Real-time marketing has grown beyond social media, and it does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
I can't make a business case for real-time marketing.
Real-time marketing works. Many marketers view real-time marketing as something that requires a considerable investment of budget and resources. Lack of resources (43 percent), time to implement (39 percent), and cost (27 percent) were all among the top obstacles identified to implementing real-time marketing. Yet among the marketers that measure the ROI of their real-time marketing, a quarter of them sees returns of more than 50 percent and nearly as many sees 75 percent ROI.
Real-time marketing is too complicated.
It doesn't have to be. Go after the low-hanging fruit first. There are a group of problems or opportunities you've been thinking about for a long time, so go after them. Start with the website, where the majority of customers like to interact with your brand. Look at your Google Analytics data to see where visitors drop off or where you get great referrals. Start welcoming visitors from those sites. Watch what your customers and prospects do, and see what segments perform above or below average and focus your campaigns on these groups. And importantly, iterate. The beauty of this kind of marketing is that you can run a directed campaign for a week, targeting 40 percent of a particular segment, analyze the lift, learn, and iterate.
There are many common misunderstandings surrounding real-time marketing. Hopefully, all of those concerns are now put to rest, but please let me know what your impression is.
Arthur Sweetser is the CMO of Evergage.
On Twitter? Follow Sweetser at @asweetser and iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.