Three Real-Time Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

As one of the biggest topics of discussion in 2013, real-time marketing has been given several definitions -- among them providing “dynamic personalized content across channels” to “developing quick response to mainstream event" to "offer[ing] management,” according to a recent DMA and Neolane survey.

Regardless of which definition of real-time marketing is adopted, many marketers are still struggling to determine how or where to get started.  Understanding that this strategy should be leveraged across all channels and media, email is one channel in which marketers can begin deploying real-time marketing messages. Here are three tactics to avoid:

1)    Assuming Real-Time is the Right Time.  There are times when some real-time responses can be extremely creepy and may cause privacy concerns.  Consider the man who just bought a new suit and immediately receives an offer for new shoes and a belt.  Even though the offer is relevant to his purchase, it’s too soon to try to convert him again.  Tactics like this can raise customer concern over how much and what types of personal data brands are capturing and leveraging in their marketing campaigns.



On the other hand, reactive, real-time marketing is extremely effective when a customer needs immediate service or information.  Consumers who engage with a brand directly are seeking assistance and expect real-time responses.  In such situations, it is vitally important to respond in real-time to provide a higher level of service to improve the consumer experience.

2)    Failing to Integrate Real-Time Responses with Existing Lifecycle Messaging. It's very important to balance real-time messaging against any automated or customer lifecycle messaging that is currently in place.  Failure to do so may cause confusion and demonstrate an obvious disconnect.  Marketers need to design a balance of reactive vs. proactive messaging at specific points in the customer lifecycle to support and influence the next step in the customer journey. For example, if you have a current email win-back campaign in place to reach out to customers who haven't engaged within the past six months, you will want to make sure you have controls in place to suppress the program should a purchase be registered via any channel. If your win-back program is only keying off email or single channel data, you may find yourself trying to win back a customer who you already won back.

3)    Not Using the Contextual Data You Have. Data availability and latency are two of the biggest challenges to harnessing real-time marketing.   However, at a minimum, marketers still have basic customer, Web and purchase information that could and should be leveraged.  Consider the customer who just bought a new light fixture for her bathroom at a local store and then subsequently receives a promotional campaign with an offer on lighting.  This happens because the store didn't recognize her latest purchase to either suppress the promotional message completely, or send content with cross-sell opportunities to accessorize the customer's most recent purchase.   In this scenario, the store could have known that this subscriber was a customer, not prospect, that she was interested in home improvement, and that she has a preference to purchase in a specific store and location.  By leveraging this contextual data, marketers can determine the next best message and inform content versioning to drive this customer back to her preferred purchase channel, which is her local store. 

Context is Key to Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing has become synonymous with generating new creative content very quickly, based on the context of a customer situation to ensure relevance. 

What are you doing today to capitalize on the consumers' context to meet their demand of relevance with real-time marketing?

3 comments about "Three Real-Time Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid ".
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  1. Phil Whomes from Whomes Consulting, September 13, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.

    Spot-on article - last week I blooged: Effective email marketing - it's not difficult, but a look at 14 days in the life of my inbox seems to suggest otherwise

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, September 16, 2013 at 4:14 a.m.

    Entirely agree with #2 and #3, though why on earth would any marketer deliberately key any of their marketing plans to just email stats when it's so inexpensive and simple to take real-time eCommerce data into account? But I don't find #1 creepy at all. I'd agree it can be annoying if marketers set the follow-up contact rate too high for too long, e.g. I recently stayed in a hotel and am still being bombarded with hotel-related emails.

  3. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, September 16, 2013 at 3:38 p.m.

    Let's partner up! Real Time plus Email is like Peanut Butter and Chocolate.

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