Real-time marketing is about engaging with the customer whenever and wherever they are in their buying journey. Making the most of customer data by using analytics to better understand who your customers are (and what they want) can help you create better real-time customer experiences.
We asked Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to survey more than 500 leaders to help determine how fast and far along the real-time analytics maturity scale businesses are moving. Almost two-thirds of them said real-time analytics are important to their organization’s performance, and nearly all of them said it will become increasingly important in the next two years.
According to the survey, about 50 percent of organizations that use real-time analytics say they have measured an increase in customer retention, loyalty and revenue growth. Almost 75 percent have increased spending on real-time customer analytics.
Real-time marketing: What companies want
Business leaders said they want to be able to use real-time analytics to enhance their customers’ experiences. That means enabling a variety of real-time capabilities. Which capabilities are companies most interest in? Here are the top four most requested:
- More than 80 percent want to use analytics to generate real-time actions from customer data. But companies are struggling to achieve this goal. Only 22 percent of those surveyed say they are effective in using analytics and data. What can those companies do to fill the gap between aspiration and reality? Implement a real-time decisioning solution.
- Most companies also want to be able to provide quality data to its marketing teams, but just 21 percent can do that today. The answer is strong data management capabilities. Data management helps transform, integrate, govern and secure data while improving its overall quality and reliability.
- Accessing that data quickly and easily is next on companies’ wish lists (73 percent). But less than 20 percent have succeeded so far. What does this capability look like? It would need to collect digital customer-level data and then uses the data insights to craft messages, offers and content performance across web and mobile channels. This would enable not only marketing, but sales, service and support to engage customers at relevant times along their customer journey.
- An important part of successful real-time marketing is being able to smartly narrow the likely options a customer will be offered based on what you already know about them or about customers like them. More than 70 percent of the marketers agreed that they would like to make better real-time use of their customer data. To join the 18 percent of companies that are doing that now means employing predictive analytics. With predictive analytics, accurate insights are delivered at the right time, dramatically increasing the reach and value of your data. Enabling you to make evidence-based decisions every day.
Three things that could be standing in your way
The good news is that bridging these real-time marketing gaps can happen relatively quickly. But there are some obstacles:
Legacy systems. Upgrading to a modern analytics platform means being able to create real-time marketing insights in any computing environment. Look for platforms that enable you to make future infrastructure changes and can quickly incorporate new data sources, systems and environments.
Data/organizational silos. Is some of your customer-related data hidden, hoarded or left on its own? It usually is a symptom of organizational silos. For exceptional customer experiences, having access to all data means having more complete and cohesive conversations with them throughout their buying journey (think acquisition and retention).
Multichannel complexity. Marketers talk a lot about obtaining a 360-degree view of their customers. Getting that unified customer view of customer better prepares you to provide relevant and meaningful real-time interactions no matter which of your channels the customer chooses. Timing is also crucial you want to deliver your message when the customer is receptive and ready to act – too soon and your message misses the opportunity.
What’s the ROI for real-time marketing?
It’s clear that improved customer experiences are the most significant benefit to implementing a real-time marketing strategy. But according to HBR, more than half of those leaders they surveyed said they are also seeing additional benefits including increased sales, marketing and operational efficiencies, improved collaboration across their organizations and higher rates of innovation. Of those companies are using real-time marketing.
Not surprisingly, many of the respondents said they have seen increases in loyalty, retention and customer lifetime value. The financial metrics are there, too, with companies reporting sales growth and additional revenue.