How real is your real-time marketing?

“Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years,” said Gartner Vice President analyst Mike McGuire, “However, before marketers can realize the benefits of these technologies, they must first become proficient in predictive analytics and delivering personalized communications.”

McGuire’s comments were part of Gartner’s report last August outlining the top trends that were most likely to impact how marketing teams manage their martech stacks.

The research firm found that the brands capable of plugging in behavioral analytics to marketing automation platforms would be better equipped to deliver real-time marketing efforts — but, according to Gartner’s report, many marketers lacked a “clear” business case for real-time engagement.

Real-time marketing’s biggest obstacle

So what’s the problem? Pegasystems Product Marketing Manager Andrew LeClair says the primary issue is we have 7,000 marketing technology solutions but no way to effectively combine multiple disparate systems in a way that delivers sustainable real-time marketing efforts.

“We have data that’s all over the place. Our systems and our people — they’re not connected,” said LeClair during his Discover MarTech ‘Why Real-Time Really Matters’ presentation, “There’s a bunch of complexity. We’ve got inbound that’s over here and outbound over there — and paid is off on some island somewhere nobody knows. Not to mention all the other systems that touch the customer — things like customer service or billing applications.”

According to LeClair, marketers are unable to stitch together the multiple platforms they’ve implemented to create a “centralized decision authority” — one that can deliver actual real-time marketing events based on customer engagement across channels, historical data, purchase interactions and more.

How to make real-time, 1:1 marketing work

“We need to figure out and deliver next best actions across channels in under 100-milliseconds, but what the heck does that really mean? And, how does that start to work?” asked LeClair during his webinar.

The product marketing manager says real-time marketing is reliant on four specific capabilities: detection, data, decision and delivery. First, marketers must be able to detect, or sense, a customer’s moment of need. This means having systems in place that are able to detect actions via simple events like a click-through on an email or a conversation with the CSR.

“On the flip-side, you also have non-events. This is when we expect something to happen and it doesn’t,” said LeClair.

Once the event — or series of events — have been detected, data needs to be gathered before determining the next best action. According to LeClair, marketers need data that can help assess a customer’s sentiment, intent and behavior. Also, data that sheds light on their end-goal and where they are located is also needed.

“All of this information is absolutely key to identifying their context and what their needs are — and it has to be available in real-time,” said LeClair.

A comprehensive data assessment makes it possible to decide on the next best action and optimize a real-time marketing opportunity. This may include pushing out just the right content at just the right time, delivering a personalized offer, sending a follow-up email or more.

When marketers have fine-tuned these four capabilities, they’re able to determine whether or not it’s time to sell to the customer or nurture the relationship — or, potentially, decide not to engage if it’s impossible to add value within a given situation.

“From initial detection to assembling our data to making that decision to then executing — and how that impacts the customer experience — if we’re able to do all of that in less than 100-milliseconds for any channel, that is the ideal state. That’s where the best in class organizations live and breathe,” said LeClair.

The rewards of real-time marketing

To drive home the impact of real-time marketing efforts, LeClair shared results from a Total Economic Impact report conducted by Forrester on Pega’s clients.

Forrester confirmed companies that had implemented Pega’s real-time marketing tools generated $226 million worth of incremental revenue gains and $193 million in retained revenue.

“Because we’re sensing needs in real-time, we can be proactive in our retention efforts, reducing our churn, reaching out to the customer before they even get the chance to think about leaving,” said LeClair, “And that’s really, at the end of the day, how we optimize for customer lifetime value which is what all of this is about.”

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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