Every marketer needs to ask this question: “Is my real-time email marketing really real-time?” If you haven’t started asking this question, you will soon. Email marketing has emerged front and center as a prime real-time marketing tool, but many marketers are surprised to find that what they call “real-time” is not so real-time after all.
While real-time marketing is most closely associated with brands sending timely messages to a mass audience, the next frontier of real-time marketing is sending personalized messages to individuals. In fact, 96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance, according to the Aberdeen Group’s research report, Email Marketing: Get Personal with Your Customers.
However, more personalization usually means more delays. The key to all real-time marketing is speed, but the very infrastructure of email marketing is based on a series of time-consuming tasks, such as list creation, data syncing, and batch delays. Each activity introduces another delay, any of which can quickly turn a real-time marketing opportunity into a real missed opportunity.
Guest Post by Taylor Jones, Co-Founder & Principal Engineer of MessageGears
Most delays arise from how data is managed and stored, and many delays are not necessary. Fortunately, there are a number of ways organizations can reduce or eliminate delays by consolidating data into a centralized database or bringing in email marketing consultants to optimize their processes. Below are three signs email marketing consultants look for to determine whether you have unnecessary delays impeding your real-time marketing efforts. Insights into data management practices that can help reduce or eliminate these delays are also presented, so that your real-time email marketing will truly be real-time.
1. How Do You Share Data With Your Email Service Provider?
One of the challenges of real-time email marketing is sending a relevant message to specific individuals, instead of blasting out a general message to your entire database. However, this precision requires developing custom segments that have to be uploaded to an email service provider (ESP). Any time you move data around using a file transfer protocol (FTP) or application program interface (API) to sync data between databases, you introduce delays into the process.
In most cases, it takes hours for an email service provider to make updates, but in worst-case scenarios, it can take days — an eternity in today’s fast-paced real-time marketing world. By the time marketers are able to get data in the right place, the data can be days or even weeks old. Meanwhile, a real-time marketing opportunity has passed.
Related Reading: What Marketers Need to Know about Wearables and Email
To avoid the delays caused by syncing and uploading large amounts of data, structure your database as a hybrid model that allows your ESP to tap directly into your centralized database without having to sync or store data in the cloud. This model gives you full access to all of your data, so when a real-time marketing opportunity arises you do not have to spend precious time uploading data that might not be stored with your ESP.
2. How Reliable and Comprehensive is Your Consumer Data?
How well integrated is your customer data? Does it give you a complete view of the customer journey? A key step toward real-time marketing means transitioning from disconnected customer interactions to a unified view of customer engagement. Fragmented marketing, on the other hand, means many companies have data stored in silos that prevent a complete view of customers. This often results in customers receiving messages that are irrelevant. For instance, if you use a real-time marketing app, it may update in real-time and suggest another product if the first one has sold out. However, it may not tie back to your customer data showing that your customer has already purchased the product featured.