Using Real-Time Marketing for Retail

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David Rosen, head of strategy, analytics, and consumer insights, TIBCO Loyalty Lab
David Rosen, head of strategy, analytics, and consumer insights, TIBCO Loyalty Lab

Sure, we all want our marketing efforts to boost the bottom line. And when it comes to implementing real-time marketing efforts for retail loyalty, there is a natural tendency to prioritize campaigns that have historically increased revenue most.

But real-time marketing works best—and is more effective at driving revenue—when the focus is placed on enhancing the customer experience. It's simple: If you put the motivations of your customer at the forefront of your strategy, your customers will be more receptive to your messaging and your offers.

Here are a few more best practices for leveraging real-time marketing to enhance your retail marketing efforts.

It's all about relevance

Cross-selling and upselling present massive revenue opportunities. Relevance is what separates successful incremental sales strategies from those that fail. Your real-time marketing should evaluate information specific to each individual customer to ensure that you're creating offers and messages that your customers can easily understand and relate to.

Timing is everything

Right-time marketing is real-time marketing, but at the most convenient time for your customers. Simply delivering a message immediately following an action online or an event in the customer database does not necessarily make it the “right time.” For example, real time might be appropriate when a customer is using your mobile app, but asking customers to take advantage of other offers while they're paying or standing in line might miss the mark.

Know thy customer

How can you be relevant unless you know your customers? Your real-time marketing will be more effective when you can use internal information like purchases and customer support conversations and augment it with additional information from third-party sources like social media channels and data providers.

When you can combine historical data (internal) with quantitative information (data sources) and customer sentiment (social), you can provide your customers with a personalized shopping experience that's easy to act on.

Take advantage of every channel

You already know about email, direct mail, and social media channels. But what other channels can help you create positive interactions with current customers and prospects?

The mobile space, for example, offers an opportunity to create convenience for your customers where others have not. Mobile apps can help retailers gather geo-location data that enable contextual, updated messages and offers.

And don't forget about real-time marketing opportunities stemming from personal interaction. Retailers should train customer support personnel as sales agents and give them the necessary tools to identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities that make sense from a timing and contextual standpoint.

Don't forget optimization basics

Marketing strategies continue to demand more collaboration with technology, especially real-time marketing. With all the new technological intelligence, it's important to not forget about the old school marketing principles that improve performance.

A/B testing, control groups, and experimental designs need to be included in your real-time marketing strategy to ensure that you capture the intelligence needed to continuously improve the effectiveness and profitability of your real-time marketing campaigns.

Don't overcomplicate things

With terms like Big Data, data velocity, channel integration, multichannel, cross-channel, real time, right time, etc., it's easy to get overwhelmed. Trying to implement an all-encompassing real-time marketing strategy from square one is complicated for all organizations, no matter the size—even with new technologies that make sophisticated data analytics more approachable. That's why more companies are relying on an integrated platform to manage data from every channel. A platform also allows companies to access historical data that can aid in offer generation and continual optimization.

Focus on finding specific opportunities to enhance your customer's experience. Are there common customer events you can use to trigger contextual offers and messaging? What data do you need to ensure that your message is relevant and helpful?

You simply can't do everything at once. Start small, optimize, automate when possible, and add to your real-time marketing initiatives when it makes sense for both your company and your customers.

How are you adding the real-time element to your retail marketing?

David Rosen is head of strategy, analytics, and consumer insights at TIBCO Loyalty Lab
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