Although the benefits of real-time marketing are indisputable, many retail companies still have a long way to go to adapt fully to the mobile revolution if they wish to stay competitive.

Real-Time Marketing Requires Better Grasp of the Mobile Phenomenon

Retail brands and companies making use of a real-time marketing approach, i.e. delivering an instantaneous response to the customer, saw an average 26% rise in sales conversion rates last year. This is one of the findings of the Real-Time Marketing Report, a survey carried out by digital marketing research, analysis and advisory firm Econsultancy in association with marketing acceleration software specialist Monetate. The survey among some 900 company and agency marketers across the globe reveals that companies are gaining real business benefits when they introduce real-time marketing. These include enhanced customer experience, stronger customer retention and better brand perception. However, although 49% of those polled define the notion of ‘real-time’ marketing as making a response to the customer within less than two minutes, this target is far from being generally achieved, due to insufficient understanding of the ‘mobile’ phenomenon and inefficient real-time data gathering and use.

Adapting to the mobile revolution

The report’s authors underline that the components of ‘real-time marketing’ have evolved beyond just time itself, largely due to the proliferation of mobile devices and the functionality and experiences they provide. According to Monetate’s recent Ecommerce Quarterly Report report, between 2012 and 2013 online purchases made on a mobile device jumped by 50%, from one purchase in five to one in three. However, Monetate’s Chief Operating Officer John Healy believes online retailers have not yet understood that real-time marketing means not “selling to” customers, but “serving” customers – “providing moments of convenience, surprise and delight that create a bond between a brand and a person, anytime, anywhere.” The wide array of communication functionality available on mobile should be pushing companies to take into account such variables as location, the kind of device being used, the speed of Internet connection and even the weather and popular local events. Blending in this information helps to enhance the customer experience and enables the retailer to provide a relevant response.

Technology and data: pain points

A major requirement for real-time marketing is of course actually gathering the relevant data in real time. Data collection is based primarily on information systems and data transmission. However, e-commerce companies are currently not generally structured in such a way as to implement real-time marketing actions effectively.  Some 75% of respondents said their organisation is “somewhat ineffective”, “highly ineffective” or “has no capability to design customer experiences that take advantage of real-time responses”.  The key challenge of real-time marketing is therefore knowing how to exploit the relevant data that is gathered and use it as a basis for customer-oriented action.

By Eliane HONG