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It’s not just about real-time, it’s about the right time

With more and more companies getting on social listening to better connect with consumers and garner customer feedback, real-time marketing and communication seems like a plausible way to engage. However, what is more important than “real time” is the right time, said Shireesh Mishra, head of planning and marketing enablement for APAC marketing at PayPal, at the inaugural Smart Data conference organised by Marketing.

Mishra said that leveraging the right moments to convert these touch-points to sales needs a lot of different considerations, and marketers needed to be looking at the power of data, as it can lend insights as to when to approach the customer.

“It’s not about real time, it’s about the right time when it comes to marketing and communication. We also have to be there, be useful, relevant and quick to make an impact on the customer,” he explained.

He added that marketers needed to leverage on specific moments of truth when it comes to engaging with customers. Moments of truth refer to moments when a customer interacts with a brand to form an impression about it.

These moments of truths will make or break the relationship. It gives you an opportunity to convert customers or make or break [the relationship] with them.

Moments of truth are also capable of converting customers who are not actively thinking about a brand. For example, a potential restaurant customer, who may not be actively thinking about his next meal, might head to a restaurant after receiving a targeted ad during meal times.

Another point of consideration is also having a customer journey map which illustrates the steps customers go through in engaging with a brand, product or service to perform a specific action or task.

“The task may not necessarily lead customers to buying something, but you always need to think about a process or an activity, and just break it into different parts to understand a buyer’s journey,” he said.

Mishra also outlined a framework to better leverage “intent” data and drive customer advocacy. The framework is comprised of the following:

  • Who – mapping the customer journey and identifying the target segment.
  • What – capturing the explicit and implicit intent and personalising the offering.
  • When – marketing at the right time rather than focusing on real time.
  • Why – having a sustainable differentiator and catering to demanding customers.
  • Closing the loop – going beyond fixing symptoms and converting big data into smart data.

When it comes to the first step, “who”, marketers need to start with an “experience audit”. This is mapping the customer journey and plotting the moments of truth in each path. However, determining the right moments which matter and letting go the ones that don’t may not be so straightforward.

“Every brand is special and different, and every customer journey is unique. So prioritise the moments which matter,” he said.

He added it was also about capturing the implicit intent where the customer will not tell you what he wants. As such, to understand implicit intent, looking at smart data and data in segmentation can be a method to consider for marketers.

Another important step, “why”, is about convincing the customer why they should choose you versus a competitor. Hence, having a sustainable differentiation is a key to success.

“This is because customers today can be demanding enough to expect you to understand what they want, when they want it and how they want it.”

Ultimately, brands need to close the loop and ensure there is enough feedback to build up the brand’s post-campaign strategy when it comes to the customer experience.

Mishra said that while many brands are active on social, and engaging in social listening to respond to customer complaints in real-time, what these brands are missing is a feedback loop to the actual problem. He said:

It’s not just about resolving symptoms. It’s about understanding what the core issues are and why the complaints are coming.

As such, marketers need to have two plans – a short-term fixing plan versus a post-strategy plan.

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