When apparel retailer Gap releases a new clothing design, marketing analysts look to a key customer segment as an early indicator of the product’s popularity: the people who work in its stores. “Our employees are also our target audience, so we know quickly by those first-day employee purchases if we have a hit on our hands,” said Seth Farbman, Gap’s global CMO. Based on those early results, marketing can rapidly adjust promotional campaigns or merchandising can change the mix of inventory in stores to accommodate anticipated demand. “The data is irrefutable because it’s real,” says Farbman.
The constant flow of information across a business has created an opportunity to increase the pace of decision making, to observe and react in the moment – just like humans do. Marketers are looking beyond examining historical data to predict the future. Instead, they are turbocharging the analysis of real-time data from a variety of sources, including social media and website activity, to deliver personalized in-the-moment engagement, promotions, and, ultimately, sales.
Capitalizing on insights is one of five key responsibilities that marketers must embrace to transform the marketing function into a strategic business driver. Here are four key foundational elements you will need to put in place to capture – and act on – insights in real time:
Plan for spontaneity. The foundation forOreo’s seemingly spontaneous ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet during the blackout at this year’s Super Bowl was laid well in advance. Parent company Mondelez created 78 dashboards to capture social media conversations about the Super Bowl and the Mondelez brands that were advertising on the broadcast. Shortly after the power went out at the Superdome, analysts noticed the chatter on Twitter and Facebook had shifted to the blackout. Within minutes, Oreo’s digital agency had created a snappy post, which generated 15,000 retweets on Twitter and 5,500 shares on Facebook.
Accelerate your analytics. Real-time marketing requires real-time decision making, not just big data. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce the time between collecting the data and acting upon it. Procter & Gamble, for example, has invested in a “visually immersive” data environment, called Business Sphere, which delivers constant streams of business intelligence to employees around the globe. Ask yourself whether you’re focusing on warehousing your data or capitalizing on the insights it contains.
Curate content, not just collateral. Research from technology publisher IDG found that IT professionals typically consume five pieces of content, created by or on behalf of the vendor, before they speak with a sales representative. But those pieces of content can’t be the same; they must match the buyers’ needs at a given moment. For example, someone who posts a query on a community site about cloud technology will likely balk at an immediate sales pitch – but appreciate a link to a blog post that talks about overall trends and best practices. Early-stage content builds credibility – and possibly an opportunity to engage more directly down the road.
Know your customer before they are your customer. Customers have more choice than ever before, are better informed than ever before, and their opinions count more than ever before. Customers spend 50% of their time researching online and 70% of their decision making is complete before they speak to a sales person. If you are waiting for them to walk in your store or meet with a sales rep, you are too late. To make matters worse, 80% of customers have reversed a purchase decision based on a negative review. Imagine the impact a company can make on its bottom line if it understands the customer and start creating an experience for them earlier in the cycle.
Are you still marketing based on last month’s reports or are you ready for real-time? I look forward to your comments.
Originally posted on LinkedIn Today –Turbocharge Business Results through Marketing Insights on July 16, 2013.