Let's get real here, real-time marketing works wonders in the B2C world. But how does it work for B2B brands? There was an article on Econsultancy last week that questions whether it's just something left to the 'trendy' brands with a hungry audience of Twitter followers.
I beg to differ. And the article offers numerous statistics to support this stance. More than six in ten B2B companies are using some form of real-time marketing, and 87% believe that it's essential as device, behaviour, place and time all come together.
Essentially, real-time marketing is the result of the rise of agile marketing. Marketing now needs to be more reactive, as opposed to planned - and this is down to the 'always connected' lifestyle we lead. We now demand personalised and rapid responses from brands we engage with.
So how can B2B companies benefit from real-time marketing? Unlike the B2C journey, B2B often involves numerous decision makers, all with their various goals and agendas. Is it impossible to be agile and speedy when you're faced with so many processes? No, it's not. After all, even B2C real-time marketing requires some pre-planning. All it means is offering the right content at the right time – engaging at a time that the customer considers 'now'.
But to get that engage 'now' bit right you have to have the agility to make an agile plan to fail, and know you will fail in some areas. If that makes no sense, I'll explain: yes, we need to be agile and reactive and we need a plan, but that plan needs to plan for failure so that we are able to track quickly what's working and what's not, switching it on or off accordingly. We'll use tried and tested methods of split testing, rolling out multiple messages and tracking in real-time responses, then working out very quickly in real time what does and doesn't work. In B2C you can get away with blanket messages; in B2B, sales cycles are very different, job roles functions and drivers are very different when it comes to who is making the decision at what stage in the process, so in B2B you need to have more armoury up your sleeve ready to roll out based on response... be ready to fail quickly!
Improved customer experience is probably the main benefit of real-time marketing. This has a knock-on effect of also enhancing customer retention, brand perception and conversion rates. The Econsultancy article claims that 26% of B2B brands in their study reported an upturn in conversion rates as a result of real-time marketing. Interestingly, this is exactly the same percentage as B2C brands.
Does your real-time marketing strategy plan for failure?
Jessica Ellis - Business Development Director