No More Guessing Games: Drive Sales with Real-Time Interactions

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Jess Stephens preferredIn this special guest feature, Jess Stephens, Chief Marketing Officer at SmartFocus, discusses her thoughts about the importance of real-time interactions that are triggered by customer behavior, and not just by the marketer’s best guess. As CMO for SmartFocus, Jess has an unashamedly enthusiastic approach to data and knows all about the huge impact disruptive technology has in bringing brands closer to their consumers. Jess has an invaluable breadth of marketing and leadership experience having worked in digital and mobile marketing for the duration of her career, gaining a breadth of experience from the boot-strap start-up world through to established FTSE250 companies. Prior to joining SmartFocus, Jess was founder and director at proximity marketing platform TagPoints and held senior leadership roles at MoneySupermarket Local Deals, Local Daily Deals and Filofax.

In the old days, marketers worked hard to understand customers by poring over research, demographics, surveys and transactional history. But because the information was already dated when received, there was necessarily a lot of guesswork about customers involved in the resulting campaigns. The fact is, people’s needs change according to their mood, intent, position in the buying cycle and many other factors. That’s why savvy marketers now focus on personalization in the context of real-time interactions to drive sales.

Marketers have adopted omnichannel, contextualized communications because they recognize the importance of personalization. They are reaching out to customers on the platforms consumers use most, including social media. Marketers are also using the data they generate from all platforms to make relevant offers, and they are building long-term relationships that don’t just result in repeat sales but brand advocacy as well.

Today’s marketers are using contextualization and personalization to optimize content on mobile, online, push messages, proximity alerts and optimized email. To drive customer loyalty, brands are using sophisticated analytics to create engaging communications and relevant offers across all of these channels. That’s how marketers are building customer loyalty and driving incremental revenue. Today, it doesn’t involve a guessing game; it’s a data-driven campaign featuring real-time interactions.

How does it work? It starts with the recognition that each customer is on a unique journey and that their motivation to try a product, make a purchase or stay loyal to a brand depends on highly individual factors. Marketers can seize the advantage by using technology to interpret data and create campaigns that reflect customer context instead of guessing about intent. And incremental sales are just the beginning.

With a more holistic view of customers through automated big data interpretation, marketers are able to deliver more personalized interactions to drive up brand engagement and create new sales. They can take multiple factors into account to create personalized campaigns, including factors such as location, weather, customer demographics, favorite brands and products, browsing and buying history and much more.

Integrating a real-time marketing interaction solution is the key to understanding the customer journey. It allows marketers to deliver the right experience at the right time via the right platform. Omnichannel marketing was just the first step; now companies must go beyond meeting customers where they are and meet them when they are — delivering marketing communication that is in synch with the customer journey. In this ecosystem, personalized and contextually relevant real-time interactions are no longer optional extras for marketers — they are a must-have to achieve success.


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  1. Great article Jess. I think there is some confusion in the market regarding what “real-time” is. Most personalization vendors claim to be real time, but are not. They simply deliver the experiences in “real time” but does not consider current behavior when creating a profile of the shopper.
    Another part of that is having predictive technology that anticipates rather than reacts to user behavior. Just a couple of things to think about for companies looking for a personalization solution.