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Leverage Real-Time Events in Multichannel Marketing in 5 Steps

Time is money, and no practice solidifies this adage more than real-time marketing.

But what exactly constitutes “real time,” anyway? According to research and advisory firm Gartner, real time is “an organization’s ability to identify, understand, and rapidly respond to opportunities and threats within the right-time moments that can impact business advantage.”

“We’re talking about being at the ready between company and customer,” Adam Sarner, research VP of Gartner, said at the ONE Teradata Marketing Festival in Las Vegas.

Companies can leverage real-time techniques in a number of ways, too. As Sarner explained, there’s real-time communications (thought leadership in response to breaking news), real-time product management (social plays used to generate ideas in less time), real-time engagement (understanding and responding to customers at the right time), and real-time distribution (producing what customers want at greater speed). 

Of course, as with any opportunity, there are challenges. One of the main issues, according to Sarner, is determining how digital marketers can take advantage of multichannel marketing in real time. To help overcome this hurdle, Sarner broke down the five steps marketers need to capitalize on real-time events in a multichannel marketing world.

1) Identify and prioritize events

Sarner encouraged marketers to write down events that are meaningful for the customer and events that are meaningful for the business. Not all events will be meaningful for both parties, he acknowledged. Create a list of relationship-significant events, he advised, and prioritize them to form a more manageable list of events marketers should pay attention to. There should be some events, he explained, that are significant for each side and create a “meeting of the minds.”

2) Categorize the events into “fixed” and “variable” 

Some events are written in stone, such as a birthday or holiday season, Sarner said, while others are variable and therefore more difficult to foresee, such as a change in address, transfer of funds, or poor customer experience. Sarner advised conference attendees to start working on the fixed events because they’re less complex and, hence, a good starting point for real-time experimentation.

3) Monitor events

Marketers need to put mechanisms in place, Sarner said, to detect and monitor defined events when and where they happen. And these specific events, he noted, should be monitored and detected regardless of channel. Granted, this might not be feasible for all companies. Therefore, Sarner advised marketers to start by monitoring just a few channels so that they can check for accuracy and accumulate the right data.

“The problem is [that] every time you add a channel, oh boy, does it become more complex,” he said.

4) Optimize

Identify the best interactions, like an offer, based on triggers and engagement, Sarner said. The variables, he said, can include profitability analysis of segments or propensity to churn. Then, he added, get company buy-in by piloting and testing these triggers and interactions. This optimization is important because it allows marketers to test how they can deliver the right message at the right time via the right channel. 

5) Execute

Put simply, this step requires process and automation to scale, Sarner said. And once marketers have completed the previous steps, they can respond to hundreds of different “right-time” events, he noted, such as by routing a script to a call center agent, cross-selling through mobile messaging, or interacting with customers through social (like Morton’s Steakhouse did in this cited example).

“Unless we put those five steps into place… you’re not going to be able to do fun stuff like this,” he said.

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