As digital marketers, we are guilty of throwing around the term “real time” rather callously. In fact, in most cases when marketers use the term real time, the context is really more like near time. On top of that, email marketers often use “real time” and “relevant” interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. Of course they do not, though real time and relevant are often in cahoots.
The best way to demonstrate the difference between real time and relevant is by way of example. Let’s look at a typical consumer behavior as it relates to ecommerce: the abandoned shopping cart.
Let’s say you’re an online retailer of ski and snowboard equipment and apparel. A customer is visiting your site, and after 10 minutes of browsing he places a snowboard in his shopping cart. Afterward he resumes shopping. But after a few minutes, his browsing behavior indicates he is getting ready to leave the site without completing his purchase of the snowboard. Maybe he has changed his mind. Maybe he wants to compare prices with a competitor. Or maybe he needs to think about it for a while.
Depending on his reasons for abandoning, real-time and relevant marketing are both important tools to help close the sale. Real-time marketing applies tactics that attempt to close the sale while the customer is still in session – thus making it real time. For example, before the customer can leave the site, a pop-up message reminds him of your low-price guarantee and free shipping on orders over $75.00.
Alternatively, a day after the customer has abandoned the cart, he receives an email reminding him about the snowboard, along with a 10% savings offer if he purchases in the next 24 hours. Turns out that’s enough of a difference to get the customer off the fence, and he completes the purchase.
It’s simple really. Email is not in session, making it implausible for it to be real time the way your website can be (when powered by the right technology). However, there are few if any peers in digital marketing tool chest when it comes to the relevance of data and behavior-driven email marketing.
How does your company differentiate between real time and relevance? Tell us your thoughts.