Seamless two-way multichannel marketing engagement with customers will closely mimic (and should) a “real-time” conversation, with both listening and speaking, a sense of in-the-moment context, timing and tone, and the ability to respond, add to and continue with, a thought or purpose at multiple occasions over time.
Think of any real conversations with a person you’ve ever had. What did you say the first time you met? What did you reveal about yourself? What information did you exchange at the time? What didn’t you say? What about the fifth time engaging with this person? How did the context of the conversation change? What history of past interactions between yourselves did you bring to the conversation? What new information came into the conversation when and how was it communicated? These are all “real-time” questions and concepts we can bring to a successful multichannel marketing relationship strategy between company and customer.
Gartner for Marketing Leaders defines real-time as an organization’s ability to identify, understand and rapidly respond to opportunities and threats within the right-time moments that can impact business advantage. Our definition is broad because it tries to encapsulate multiple opportunities marketers have to operate in real-time. It also underlines that the understanding of “right-time” is what makes real-time successful.
Real-time marketing is hot, and has been for a while. Multichannel Marketers want to reach out and respond to customers in real-time, and they are using “always-on” real-time channels like mobile, social, web and even new, always-on, real-time techniques like the Internet of Things which includes just about anything with an IP address.
The good news is, customers have high expectations that they can engage with companies in real-time. They are also using real-time channels that reach out and respond to companies and are using channels like mobile, social and the web and the Internet of Things to do so. Both marketers and customers want real-time. Win-Win, right?
Well, there is danger here for marketers who try to engage with customers with a knee-jerk response to any situation that happens no matter where they are in the relationship. Do it at the wrong time or in the wrong context and It will be creepy. It will be perceived as a privacy threat and it will turn out to be among the worst conversations they’ll have.
Consider real-time engagements like:
- A customer just walked into the store and recently opted-in and downloaded your app.
- A prospect has just asked for your third white paper in three days.
- Your best client has just made it known on Twitter that things are ramping up in their department and need resources.
All these examples will need to consider right-time/real-time interaction. A successful multichannel marketing strategy means approaching each channel, each customer, and interaction as if it was a “real-time” conversation.