In marketing it seems like there are new techniques emerging constantly – yet many of these vanish as quickly as they appeared.

Real-time marketing, however, has been tipped to stick around by some of the industry’s leading experts – why is that?

One reason may be that engaging customers today is less about selling a product or service and increasingly about cultivating meaningful relationships.

The days are long gone when companies didn’t need to personalise and they could still be successful.

Personalisation in 2015 needs to go one step further. All marketing needs to be connected and feel the same across every channel and every message.

Real-time marketing in conjunction with connected personalisation enables a company to tailor every marketing message for a particular customer.

So the email they receive or the website products they get recommended or the in app message that pings on their phones should all be tailored to them and their preferences.

With customers now expecting this sort of joined up thinking, we are going to see it growing, as more companies find ways to make all their marketing messages highly personalised and homogenised.

One way to do this is by having an interconnected system powering all these marketing messages running in the background. This will lead to a single marketing view with every touch point that a customer has with a company’s messages being highly personalised and targeted.

One company that is doing it very well is Netflix. The company is a champion of real-time personalisation using customer data and viewing habits to recommend highly targeted and relevant content to its users.

Some sources are even suggesting that this level of personalisation and Netflix’s overall video on demand strategy has led to a drop in illegal downloads. Users of Netflix are becoming used to the idea of sharing their personal data with the company because they see a clear benefit to doing so.

The next step is using the massive amounts of data that is collected by enabling next level proximity marketing, highly targeted in-store beacon messages and connecting all marketing channels together.

This data can be used to leverage previous interactions, purchase history and current interactions to deliver real time personalised one-to-one communication that will actually lead to an increase in sales.

Segments of groups will now become segments of one and marketing will be targeted to the individual instead of to customers with similar profiles. The ability to gather large amounts of data will increase the level of communication that customers have with companies and place a greater focus on inclusive marketing with input from customers.

Location-based marketing is going to become smarter and even more personalised in 2015. With the ‘always on’ nature of smartphones and the increased use of beacons and apps, people are going to be able to receive highly targeted messages and retailers will be able to gather huge amounts of data.

As customers get more comfortable with their devices constantly and automatically sharing their location and other information with apps and beacons, this data can help customers to experience more enjoyable in-store retail visits and help retailers deliver that experience.

Earlier this year, TechCrunch talked about how they feel that ambient proximity was the next phase of location sharing.

They meant it more from a social point of view with people using apps like Facebook’s Nearby Friends (US only at the moment) and Foursquare’s proximity app Swarm to connect with friends near them, but this social element of a user’s location being constantly shared can be extended to the retail space as well.

If customers can be persuaded to constantly share their locations via an app and beacons, this can be extremely powerful for retailers.

Things like dwell times, accurate footfall traffic management and heat mapping all help to understand customers better and provide them with a better service.

All of this will eventually lead to the connected consumer; the consumer that is so integrated into a business with such highly targeted offers and messages that they will not shop anywhere else. These connected consumers will interact with businesses more and more through their phones, tablets and in 2015 through wearables as well.

It is going to be very important for companies to get all their marketing channels integrated and offer content to customers through the device and in the manner that they prefer instead of the other way around.

The more integrated and connected a consumer is with a business, the more they will use their services and shop for their products.

In 2015, if a customer doesn’t find a business or a retailer on their chosen device or content offered in the manner they want, they will run to the open arms of the competition.

2015 will be the year when companies use all their different avenues of marketing in the most targeted way to communicate the most relevant and powerful messages to their customers.

This will include contextual emails, responsive websites, mobile marketing, real-time social media, ambient proximity and big data to create a sense of the truly connected customer.

By having a two-way conversation, companies will find that they have loyal and engaged customers that are so integrated with the company’s products and services that they will not shop anywhere else and help to increase sales and revenue.

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Published 3 August, 2015 by Rohini Srihari

Rohini Srihari is Chief Scientist at SmartFocus and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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