88 percent of digital marketers consider real-time, contextual marketing imperative to their overall strategy and success, so says a 2014 study by Evergage. Now that’s telling! Up until now, many brands accepted worthy real time marketing efforts as physical creation of content by company employees, often issuing such marketing via social channels.
Real Time Marketing Used to Mean
In the past, real-time meant responding to live events with a singular, witty Tweet. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo gave the world a taste of its real-time cleverness:
Oreo instantly tickled America with one viral post in 2013.
Real-time once meant physically responding to customer complaints on Facebook:
Walmart constantly reacts to customer comments, negative and positive, on its social platforms.
Real-time meant issuing seasonally-relevant content:
Lowe’s posted this Vine around July 4 to take a playful, seasonal angle using its products.
It meant enhancing e-commerce by delivering promotional offers – or even developing dedicated microsites that encourage users to post via social, and shop:
Hollister sent me a promo via email to entice me to Tweet using its hashtag and buy its products.
These marketing tactics, though clever, are ultimately one-time interactions, serving a valuable purpose for a defined period, but then soon drifting into the abyss of irrelevance. They undoubtedly have their place, and can enhance brand awareness and interaction exponentially.
But the fact remains that they are one message, one Tweet, one video.
Real Time Marketing Now Means…
Delivering repeated, relevant, real-time offers and messages across digital or offline channels requires a more in-depth kind of strategy.
These three brands have embraced futuristic real time marketing and simultaneously enhanced their customers experiences.
Applebee’s Grill & Bar
Applebee’s has completely adopted a modern marketing strategy that embraces what it really means to be real-time.
It markets to its thousands of customers in real-time in new, innovative ways. Through its mobile app, Applebee’s has built-in location services so it can consistently collect customer data based on where each individual customer is, and when. This allows users to also locate the nearest restaurant, navigate to the website, and view store information including hours, address, and menu.
Applebee’s mobile app is user-friendly and uses customer data on continuous loops to provide real-time information. Photo credit: iTunes Applications store.
Recently, Applebee’s has also turned to the use of data and automation for customer food ordering and bill payment. Enabled by some 100,000 Ziosk tablets installed at its tables across all restaurant locations, Applebee’s has taken the next step toward futuristic, real-time customer experience. These digital kiosks are quickly gaining popularity at chain restaurants to enable real-time interaction with customers, and provide stellar customer service.
Applebee’s is going futuristic with it’s awesome use of Ziosk kiosks. Photo credit: Alex Konrad, 2013.
Applebee’s recently accrued a lot of national attention with its #TasteTheChange campaign, consisting of a live streaming webinar, free food trials, and live restaurant coverage. That’s just plain good marketing – and couple that with a real-time strategy, here’s one brand doing it right.
You login to your Netflix account. You’re first prompted to identify yourself, assuming you’ve enabled two or three other viewers to access the account. You’re automatically sent to a customized dashboard, consisting of dozens and dozens of shows and movies all seemingly hand-picked, just for you. You see where you left off on your favorite sitcom, and suggestions based on previously-viewed or rated entertainment. You enjoy your show, log out to go to sleep, then login the next day, picking up at the exact spot you left off. How? In short, data. Netflix’s real-time engine provides its customers with an unparalleled experience.
Individualization and the ability to provide real-time, contextual offers are Netflix’s lifeblood. Imagine an online entertainment platform which was vacant of any sort of reactive personalization. It’s hard to do – almost like walking into a brick-and-mortar movie store. Netflix actually proves it knows its customers, suggesting next-best content that you’re sure to like.
This sort of real-time decision-making focuses less on outbound marketing and more on customer listening, using an inbound feedback loop. Real-time doesn’t necessarily have to mean the outbound sending of marketing messages – ultimately a great customer experience is the most important virtue a brand can have, and Netflix has it.
Netflix relies on real-time personalization to know you just like a real person. Photo credit: StaticWorld.net.
You can really mention other large-scale online retailers in the same breath – Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, Nike, and others. All offer online purchasing that’s enhanced by a real-time, next-best-offer solution.
eBay is perhaps one of the best. It fully integrates its real time marketing strategy across all customer touch points and all digital platforms. This omni-channel approach coupled with an individualized offer optimizer explains why it’s so easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Users can even pick and choose preferences to enable further individualization.
eBay’s real time marketing strategy helps it connect with customers with just the right offer. Photo credit: BusinessInsider.com.
You look up one item and are presented with similar items in the sidebar. You navigate to another site, return later, and find the exact item or similar offers all ready for you. You make a purchase and are sent an email with offers that complement a previous purchase. Automating and optimizing a best offer, cross-sell opportunity is starting to set online retailers like eBay apart in the marketplace. eBay is marketing in real time, and setting the bar for other online retailers.
This article was written by Michael Becker from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.