Real-Time Marketing Isn't Just for Social Anymore
At the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo's "You Can Still Dunk in the Dark" tweet set the bar for real-time marketing as we recognize it now. The much-lauded tweet is a perfect example of how marketers can join the actual consumer conversation in the moment. Since then, real-time marketing has been equated with social media, perhaps more than with other platforms. We now expect brands to live tweet major sports and cultural events in the hopes of repeating Oreo's success. Arby's Grammy tweet to Pharrell late last year, anyone?
Despite the Oreo tweet's initial reach and the publicity generated, it's difficult to say if the cookie brand reached its audience or if sales increased as a result of it. With real-time email marketing, brands can be sure they're reaching consumers who are receptive to their messages.
Real-time marketing shouldn't be limited to social media. By following a few simple steps, email can drop its reputation as a less timely method of communication and step up to the real-time marketing plate. Follow these tips:
1. Know your customers’ habits. Marketing is about reaching the right customer with the right offer at the right time. Go back to basics and envision scenarios where your product or company would fill an immediate need. If it's halftime during a March Madness game, for example, Domino's could schedule a trigger email to its subscribers at the beginning of halftime offering "half off large pizzas when you order during halftime." By putting that reminder in subscribers’ inboxes, Domino's begins a dialogue about the game, demonstrates an understanding of customer needs and increases the probability of a sale.
2. Know who your customers are. Let's fast-forward to the next Super Bowl and say that the Chicago Bears are playing the New England Patriots. Email marketers could participate in the conversation by sending separate emails throughout the game to Bears and Patriots fans. For example, if the Bears lead during the second quarter, Taco Bell could send people in Chicago a congratulatory email; whereas, they might send New England residents a condolence email. Furthermore, if the Patriots take the lead in the third quarter, that could trigger another email from Taco Bell with a follow-up message.
Better yet, marketers can combine segmented lists with real-time capabilities to reach and resonate with Patriots fans in Chicago or Yankees versus Mets fans in New York.
3. Send subscribers what they want. Segmenting subscribers is the key to succeeding in email marketing during live events. For example, no Patriot fan will appreciate a congratulatory email to the Bears for winning the Super Bowl. Furthermore, people who aren't interested in the Super Bowl want to receive those kinds of emails. Knowing your subscribers and only sending messages that they want to receive is a fundamental rule in email marketing that translates well into real-time events.
Tailored emails are opened 2.5 times more frequently than general campaigns, and they receive twice as many clicks. Consumers receive an abundance of brand messages in their inboxes every day. Successful email marketers find a way to cut through the clutter and speak to individual consumer's interests and needs. A great example of this in real time would be GrubHub emailing its subscribers a reduced delivery charge offer during a snowstorm when no one wants to go outside for food.
Here's the bottom line: email marketers already have access to the tools, tricks and information they need to do real-time marketing well. They just need a different approach.
Jason Warnock is vice president, intelligence products at Yesmail Interactive, an email marketing solutions provider.
Related story: How's Your March Madness Marketing Game?