About 9 in 10 global client- and supply-side marketers from around the world (but primarily based in the UK) agree that “real-time marketing is essential as behavior, device, place and time come together.” That’s according to a new report [download page] from Econsultancy, produced in association with Monetate, which takes a broad look at real-time marketing. What’s the pay-off? Respondents claim an average uplift in conversion rates of 26% from real-time marketing activities. Conversion rates aren’t even considered the main benefit of real-time marketing, although more than 7 in 10 respondents feel that they are a primary benefit. Most commonly, company (84%) and agency (82%) respondents indicate that the main benefit is a better customer experience (which happens to be the most exciting opportunity for many marketers this year).
So what does “real-time” mean? For upwards of 8 in 10 respondents, it is defined as the ability to respond to consumer needs and/or behaviors within 2 minutes or less. While a plurality of respondents (43% client-side; 49% supply-side) feel that real-time means the ability to respond within a minute or two, a significant 12% of company respondents and 15% of agency respondents feel that it describes the ability to respond in less than a second.
Whatever the defined speed, most marketers feel they’re yet to reach it. Although some 71% of company respondents and 85% of agency respondents agree that they or their clients are employing some form of real-time marketing, only 1 in 8 of those agree that the rate of the real-time marketing efforts are sufficient enough to get the best business results for the foreseeable future. Some of the others have a solution, but don’t feel it’s a long-term one. But the largest proportion simply say their efforts need to get faster.
The study also delves into the types of data that “underpin” real-time marketing, looking at which types are most commonly used and which prove most effective. Among company respondents, the most popular data sources are:
- Location (39% using);
- Content viewed (33%);
- Behavioral (32%);
- Demographics (31%); and
- Segment/personal (29%).
However, the data types least commonly used are rated most effective by users. Specifically, while only 3% use weather data, some 38% of those deem it “highly effective.” And while only 16% are using monetary/transactional data, 33% find it highly effective.
Combining disparate forms and sources of data is a difficult ask, though: among the various barriers standing in the way of effective real-time marketing, company respondents most commonly cite the lack of a unified customer database as the biggest hindrance. Indeed, fewer than 1 in 5 currently combine customer data insights from disparate sources into a centralized database or data warehouse.
Another illustration of their troubles with data: only 12% describe their organization as highly effective in the area of collecting customer information as it occurs. Moreover, only a minority describe themselves as effective at this to any degree.
Poor marketing technology is also a barrier for a significant proportion of company respondents. Asked to rate their capabilities for real-time marketing in respect of marketing technology, company respondents were twice as likely to rate it weak (42%) than strong (21%). (By comparison, 36% rated their data capabilities as weak, and 29% strong.)
Additionally, just 1 in 3 agreed that their marketing technology is good enough to execute on real-time marketing.
But it’s not just data and technology that prove to be barriers to real-time marketing: fewer than one-third of company marketers feel that their organizations are effective at conceiving business strategy and tactics to take advantage of real-time capabilities. And for agency respondents, there’s a critical talent gap in play.
Despite all of these challenges, marketers are moving forward. A majority feel that while they’ve been challenged to pull together technology, data and talent to make real-time work, they’re making progress. Only 14% feel that it’s not a realistic effort for them.
About the Data: The Econsultancy / Monetate Real-Time Marketing report is based on a survey of almost 900 client-side marketers and agency respondents. Information about the online survey was emailed to Econsultancy’s user base of digital professionals and marketers, and promoted online via Twitter and other channels during November and December 2013.
The incentive for taking part in the survey was access to a complimentary copy of the report just before its publication on the Econsultancy website.
A total of 880 respondents took part in the survey, including 44% who are client-side marketing professionals and 56% from the supply side (including agency marketers, consultants and those working for technology vendors or other service providers).
A plurality 46% are based in the UK, with another 17% based in other parts of Europe.