I’ve been working with online technology for 8 years now and one theme has been hanging around for a while – real-time.
It’s becoming more and more prevalent, yet there still seems to be a debate as to how important real-time is for marketing and sales. When I worked in analytics, primarily selling or consulting on a platform that wasn’t real-time, the usual response I had was that ‘real-time isn’t needed because you can’t gain insight in real time.’
This is true. Humans can’t physically work with real-time data in real time, we can’t analyse it or respond to it. So why do marketing systems need to produce it?
I struggle to ‘see the wood for the trees’ for any data that passes at light speed in front of my eyes (anyone that’s seen Twitter Firehose raw data will know what I mean). The term ‘big data’ is bandied around at every available opportunity, which further demonstrates the sheer magnitude of the daunting task that lies ahead.
If you are asking questions of your data, you need to take some time to gain context, to understand the why and not just the what.
However, things are changing with the increasing popularity and adoption of multichannel marketing. Multichannel is becoming the norm, which makes perfect sense (eConsultancy has shown that multichannel campaigns are more effective than their single-channel counterparts.) But running a multichannel campaign represents a significant increase in workload for the marketer.
Add to that the fact that we all want to personalise, and the complexity increases still further. Suddenly, real-time changes from being a nice-to-have to being an essential requirement, because without it, customers won’t receive personalised offers and channel messages will be out of sync.
In the context of multichannel marketing, real-time is essential because we as marketers, sales people, customer service representatives – can’t effectively handle the complexity generated from a multichannel, personalised campaign. We can’t react quickly enough, which is why we need technology that can!
We recently worked with a FMCG, looking initially at their online data and email campaigns. Together we looked at all the customer profiles they had for their prospects, segmented them according to the different personas they had and then created a multichannel campaign. Once this campaign was up and running, they identified another channel – SMS – that they wanted to add. We did this quickly and easily, while leveraging the same personas to ensure the channels were in sync.
We sometimes get carried away with jargon – the need for real-time being driven by consumers interacting in a multichannel environment. We shouldn’t forget that there are other people involved in these marketing processes – the marketers – who need real-time technology as well – it makes everyone’s day that little bit easier.