Bad news: Only 7% of marketers have the ability to use real-time data to implement real-time marketing activities to leads and customers, a CMO Council survey found.
Better news: Nearly 70% of companies "scale customer-centered decisions and actions" across their businesses today, thanks to real-time analytics, per Harvard Business Review.
Whether your organization is part of the 7% or 70%, one thing has become crystal clear: Real-time data based on information you collect about your target audience leads to more relevant marketing and, in turn, better marketing and business outcomes.
Companies that leverage first-party data (i.e., the detailed, personal information they secure from their prospects and customers) have two things in common today:
They have the right people and processes in place to realize the benefits of real-time data in every facet of their engagement efforts.
They have the appropriate communications technology to help them accelerate and optimize their real-time marketing strategies.
Want to better connect with consumers and more effectively utilize your customer data? Then you need to build a real-time marketing plan for your business.
More specifically, you need to craft a customer lifecycle orchestration strategy focused on meeting your customers in their journeys with the most relevant messaging.
Real-time marketing: Impossible without real-time data — and modern martech
Real-time marketing has been around for quite some time.
Digital strategist and marketing industry influencer David Meerman Scott was arguably ahead of his time by noting in 2011 (remember 2011?) that “marketing departments need someone who lives and breathes real-time [marketing].”
The differences between marketers who leveraged real-time data back then (likely few and far between) versus those with real-time marketing strategies today are twofold:
Connecting with prospects and customers is far easier today, given the multitude of channels at marketing professionals disposal: mobile apps, websites, social media, email, and Internet of Things devices, to name just a handful.
There is a growing preference (an expectation, really) among consumers that brands hyper-personalize messaging to them (but only when they provide consent for use of their personal data) to offer superior customer experiences.
Thankfully, marketing technologies, like the customer data platform (CDP), have evolved over the past decade, making it easier brands looking to capitalize on real-time marketing.
Real-time data access means
Allow us to clarify an important element of real-time data: It’s provided in real time.
Not weeks, days, 24 hours, or even 60 minutes after your request. But in the moment.
Here’s a real-time marketing example that proves why you need instant data access:
Objective: You're a marketing manager. You want to get the attention of your target audience and convert anonymous website visitors and known prospects in your database into paying customers.
Problem: You need up-to-the-minute, accurate data for individuals, but your database doesn’t update their customer profiles in real time because your current tech only offers batch processing.
Solution: A CDP like BlueConic features real-time data integration. This ensures customer profiles are dynamically updated upon each attribute change, action taken, and new behavior.
Result: All relevant customer data from your across your tech stack — CRM, DMP, ESP, etc. — syncs in your CDP in real time. In BlueConic specifically, your segments automatically and dynamically update in real time, allowing you to activate that data moments after merging.
When you have time-sensitive promotional activities required to convert new customers, it’s critical today to have precise, reliable data access for those particular people and segments.
Individualization a primary goal for brands with their real-time marketing strategies
We will never, ever say it’s “either-or” when it comes individualization and personalization.
However, individualization can offer more value than the latter for certain companies, like ecommerce organizations, financial services firms, and direct-to-consumer brands.
In short, individualized marketing is a hyper-targeted version of personalized marketing.
Both utilize real-time data related to distinct customer segments to employ real-time marketing and messaging. But the former approach allows you to provide much more targeted, custom messaging that a given customer knows is meant just for them.
BlueConic SVP Strategy Cory Munchbach put it perfectly in a guest post for Chief Marketer:
"Masters of individualization recognize individuals across channels, devices, and sessions. They engage on the consumer's time-table in response to the user's activity by capturing that data, analyzing it to optimize the best response, and serving that out through the appropriate touch point — immediately."
Cory admits this is not an easy task for some marketing professionals, given it requires a constant understanding of where a person is in their customer journey and the ability to consolidate all of an individual’s data in one, single database (more on that shortly).
Nonetheless, it’s a task worth your while.
It means more customer engagement and conversions and less time, money, and resources wasted marketing toward specific members of segments where the messaging is ill-suited (e.g., those who haven’t shown a proclivity to buy a certain product from you).
To reiterate: Personalization should have a (prominent) place in your marketing strategy.
But there’s also a need to provide more targeted marketing to individual customers.
For instance, sharing custom-tailored, individualized deals for products or services a prospect left in their online shopping cart is a great way to get them to (finally) buy.
Real-time data supports both marketing methods. It’s on you to try out both in equal measure — personalized marketing to specific segments and one-to-one messaging to engaged individuals — to see if one or both work well in helping your business grow.
Getting real-time analytics from the preeminent marketing technology
As mentioned, having the proper marketing software in place for your business is paramount to gain real-time data access (not “near-real-time,” which some martech platforms offer and, bottom line, is not equivalent to real-time data).
We don't mean a “moment-in-time snapshot” of data via an identity graph.
We’re talking unified data in a single source of truth that’s instantly available to marketing, data science, analytics, and all teams that require real-time, comprehensive access.
Not all martech is created equal. In fact, many tools don’t offer the requisite identity resolution functionality necessary to automatically update customers’ profiles in real time and make that data accessible to marketers for activation in lightning-quick fashion.
What’s more, not all solutions offer real-time analytics built in to efficiently scrutinize said data and determine what’s helpful and what isn’t marketing-wise.
Real-time marketing analytics now a must-have
Nearly 60% of business leaders across the globe noted their companies have seen marked increases in customer retention thanks to real-time data analytics.
Roughly the same percentage of executives said access to real-time marketing analytics was pivotal to bettering the customer experience across all touchpoints.
If your technology doesn't enable your business users to easily analyze, model, segment, and activate real-time data, then your marketing's ceiling will likely be low.
Some tech industry members say “good-enough analytics” should be — well — good enough for most organizations and marketing professionals today.
But "good enough" isn’t going to cut it in the competitive world of digital marketing where the difference between winning business from a buyer could be a matter of minutes.
Connecting with customers the ultimate goal
We’re all competing for consumers’ attention.
Whether you're a social-centric company that relies heavily on social media to engage your audience or a retailer that conducts comprehensive market research to understand and reach consumers, there's competition coming from all sides for those individuals' attention.
Today, businesses that use real-time data for real-time marketing make the most headway with their lifecycle orchestration as opposed to static, outbound campaigns.
As Gartner analyst W. Roy Schulte pointed out, with proper real-time analytics in place, operational decision-making, data modeling, and personalized engagement — like lifecycle orchestration — become much more streamlined and efficient for organizations.
If you lack the tech to make this approach a reality, it’s time to reevaluate your current stack.
Watch our webinar on lifecycle orchestration to learn how BlueConic customers leverage real-time data unified our CDP in their real-time marketing strategies.