Looking ahead to 2019, marketers cite their number one priority and challenge will be to create real-time customer experiences. This has many marketers racing to buy the required technology to create those real-time experiences. The truth, however, is that — while needed — technology is not a silver bullet. Everyone can buy technology, yet not everyone is a high performer with it. Here are the three keys to creating a best-in-class real-time marketing program.
1. Agile is a must
Salesforce's 2016 “State of Marketing” report found that high performing marketing organizations are 9.5X more likely to be using agile methods.
Real-time experiences are not built; rather, they are programmed — meaning a marketer sets up a series of programs which only execute given specific parameters. For example, an email is only sent if a customer has not revisited the website in five days, or specific content is shown on the website only if the customer has shown intent for that product line. As marketers' roles and tasks now look more like those of engineers, we must look at what is best-in-class at building and managing programs. The answer is agile.
The ability to create experiences instantly, test them instantly, and receive feedback instantly should change the way marketers build marketing programs. We should spend less time planning and more time testing. This is the basic idea of agile.
Brands must move away from the idea that “real-time” means the production of an experience in real time. To see the true power of “real-time” is the ability to test our ideas in real time, optimizing future outcomes in the process. Amazing real-time experiences just don’t happen: they are tested, reviewed, and optimized. Agile is the process to do that.
2. Bots, bots, and more bots
Bots are one of the most powerful real-time experiences a brand can create, and all consumers want them. Just take a look at the potential use cases both Baby Boomers and Millennials see for chatbots.
Source: State of Chatbots 2018
Bots are not just a consumer side application. They are needed for B2B brands, too. For example, lead generation bots have become a popular source of leads for Segment.io, an enterprise software vendor. In the same vein, Lego created a chatbot, Ralph, and deployed it via Facebook to a targeted audience. Ralph was responsible for generating 25% of their entire holiday sales in 2017.
This is the heart of what consumers want, and what they mean by “real-time.”
3. Interviews and reviews
Have you ever picked up the phone to call a lead, customer, or advocate to ask them what they thought of your experience? I’ve asked this question around the world and only once found a marketer who said they have ever done so – once. Very few have ever made this a standard part of improvement. This is easily the number one way to get better at real-time. Simply ask.
This is a radically new idea for most marketers, and the key to getting it right is really simple. It is not a long interrogation, rather a quick and straightforward conversation.
Consumers demand real-time experiences. Only those brands that can see a new method of creating those experiences, use new tools like chatbots to converse with your audience in real time, and recognize the need for constant reviewing and iteration will be able to deliver.
For a dive deep into future predictions of marketing and what the next five years hold, watch "The Future of Marketing: 2019 Edition". In this series of short webinars, we'll cover a wide range of topics, from the foundational changes in the role and scope of marketing to how your data use will change over the next five years.