Real-time marketing involves branded responses to current events or customer interactions. The tactic only works if those responses are executed, quite literally, in real-time. For small businesses in particular, this can be extremely difficult to keep up with. Most settle for completing all of the necessary analysis and preparation after a relevant event occurs, which takes too much time and essentially defeats the point of real-time marketing.
But with the right strategy, it is possible for small businesses to execute successful real-time campaigns. The key is to create a detailed plan and pair real-time efforts with technical knowledge. If small businesses think more proactively, use the right tools and plan what they can upfront, they’ll undoubtedly see better results. Here are four steps for small businesses to enhance real-time marketing strategies:
Step 1: Know your audience and your goals
No real-time marketing strategy can be successful without a defined target audience or clear vision of what you’re working towards. It’s difficult to conduct a real-time campaign if you’re forced to first define the customers you’re targeting during each interaction. It is important to do this planning ahead of time. To understand who your target audience is, you need to first clone your best customers. This means using data to determine the demographics and online behaviors typical of your most loyal shoppers. With that information, you can then predict the type of prospects which are most likely to be interested in your brand’s products or services. This process should be completed for each type of product or service your brand offers.
Step 2: Define your funnel
Once you have determined your target audience for each one of your lines of business, the next step is to define what your funnel looks like. There will always be new prospects to target, but you can’t forget about current shoppers. Pay attention to individuals who have recently visited your site but have yet to make a purchase, and don’t ignore those who have made purchases in recent months but have been dormant for a while. Each of these types of prospects are at different stages within the marketing funnel but are important in the long-term success of your business. It’s crucial that you define those stages so you can alter messaging and channel preferences accordingly.
Step 3: Plan your creative
The next step is to map out your creative. This helps you determine what your creative strategy will look like to motivate prospects to the next stage of the funnel. If you want to send an email to a recent visitor that didn’t buy an item in their shopping cart, for example, you’ll have to use content that motivates them to complete the purchase, such as a promotional coupon.
Step 4: Execute through
Lastly, it’s important to execute campaigns across multiple channels including social media, display advertising, email marketing and notifications. This is another area where data plays a role. Look at the results of previous campaigns, identify which channels performed best for each type of customer along the funnel, and allocate your resources accordingly. For example, some customers tend to click through emails but do not make purchases until they’ve seen several retargeting ads. Others may be reminded of your business through branded display advertising, which leads to high acquisition traffic. Plan a multi-channel strategy for each customer along the funnel so when a moment arises, it’s easy to respond strategically in real-time.
To move forward, small businesses should take time to plan out a real-time marketing strategy. Even though real-time marketing generally happens spontaneously, a structured method for responding is key. If you can define your audience upfront, create a marketing funnel, develop a content guide and choose the right channels, you’ll be able to respond to events much more quickly and will see positive results.