Say All the Right Things With Personalized, Real-Time Marketing Offers

by Bruce Swann

posted on 07-27-2016

Helping a customer solve a problem by delivering the right real-time offer can be a big win for your marketing campaign. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, however, can be detrimental to your brand image, resulting in a poor experience that leads to decreased loyalty, lower conversions, opt-outs, and lost revenue.

According to Zimm Zimmerman, vice president of personalization at Merkle, “Personalization isn’t a technology; it’s a strategy. It’s a conversation with the customer, and to do it well you have to listen to people and respond accordingly.”

The best conversations arise from a deep understanding of your audience and what matters the most to them at any given time. When customers receive on-target offers across their digital devices in precisely the moments they are ready to consider them, you are joining them in conversations that are critical to the success of your brand.

Saying the right thing doesn’t have to be a grueling endeavor. Just as public speaking skills can be improved through training and practice, implementing personalization and real-time, predictive offers across marketing channels can be perfected by learning how to carry on robust conversations with your customers. The key is to start small, be willing to accept lessons learned, and celebrate wins throughout your marketing organization.

Speak Clearly and Concisely.
Conversations that start with mixed messages tend to go nowhere fast. Many of these miscommunications can be contributed to the way some organizations are structured — with separation and silence taking precedence over teamwork and communication.

Effective real-time marketing often requires significant changes that are implemented from the top down. Through leadership and initiative, it’s up to the chief marketing officer to make sure all of the different teams are aligned and working together efficiently and sociably.

In many cases, this all boils down to eliminating both technical and organizational silos within the organization while focusing on the customer journey. Brands can start by shifting their physical work environments to dynamic settings where ideas can circulate. By allowing team members to create, test, share, and learn with one another in unrestricted environments, businesses will essentially be cultivating workplaces where innovations flourish.

Listen Carefully to Your Customers.
The English writer G.K. Chesterton once said, “There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” Sometimes, we hear our customers and believe personalization is as simple as using their names in the subject line. However, if we really listen, we discover personalization requires a deeper understanding of our customers.

How do marketers listen to their customers? By evaluating the data. Between emails opened and links clicked to social interactions and downloaded apps, your customers are doing a lot of talking across their digital devices.

That’s why it’s crucial for you to really listen to what your customers are saying by understanding the data they are generating. Start by going after relatively connected channels such as emails, websites, and digital displays. Focus on picking this low-hanging fruit before moving on to more difficult integrations.

Respond Thoughtfully.
Once you’ve listened, you should be ready to deliver the perfect responses via personalized, real-time offers that prove to your customers that you know exactly what they want, when they want it.

Real-time marketers have a wide range of possible offers to extend to customers — from enticing them into making last-minute purchases to providing valuable on-property information designed to deepen relationships while creating brand advocates. The possibilities are endless, making it necessary to carefully consider various factors and competing goals — such as revenue, loyalty, and likelihood of success — when crafting your next offer.

Another consideration to make when defining the best response is the context of the offer. Geolocation technologies, such as iBeacon, make it possible to incorporate valuable context into real-time offers. Brands that are tapped into the capabilities of real-time interactions can further improve reactions based on the past and present behaviors of customers as well as the information they are providing along their customer journeys.

Watch What You Say.
You may have the technology in place to facilitate relevant and personalized real-time marketing, but that doesn’t mean you should be calling your customers by name every chance you get. In other words, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You don’t want to be disruptive, intrusive, or violate privacy.

Consider the ramifications of targeted offers that your customers may find a little creepy. Missing the mark with personalized messages not only demonstrates that you don’t understand your customers’ tastes or context, but also may lead to opt-outs, reduced loyalty, and negative brand perceptions.

Real-time marketing is inherently personal, and personalization done poorly can be disastrous. Before you begin new conversations, make sure you take the time to know and understand exactly what you are saying to your customers.

Start Conversing.
Carrying on conversations with customers across channels requires acting in a coordinated and unified fashion to deliver smart, timely offers to consumers. This can be a huge shift from traditional static campaigns carried out across disparate teams and systems — which is where integrated marketing solutions, such as Adobe Campaign, can help.

Once you have integrated customer data across marketing channels, and you are keeping a close eye on the customer journey, your marketing team will be able to deliver consistent, relevant, and personalized real-time offers that cultivate dynamic and responsive conversations with your customers.

By going beyond talking to have valuable conversations with your customers, you’ll be making their lives simpler and more familiar. And, there’s a serious payoff when you are saying all the right things at the times that matter most.

To learn more about creating personalized, real-time marketing offers, be sure to read our full whitepaper, Your Most Crucial Conversation.

Topics: Campaign Management