There's no doubt that the proliferation of mobile devices has excited the marketing industry like few innovations before. In fact, a study of more than 1,800 Millennials (aged 18-36) found that today's consumers no longer care about where they are or what device they're using when interacting with a brand, according to Paige O'Neill, chief marketing officer for SDL. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Consumers now expect brands to travel with them by responding to and anticipating their needs. This not only opens up new and exciting methods for brands to interact in real-time and develop relationships with consumers, but the demand for consistent and seamless interaction also introduces new marketing challenges. These consumers are creating and making available so much data that they expect brands to deliver compelling, relevant and highly personalised experiences. Content may be King, but context (i.e. what's happening right now) is the Queen.

The need for marketers to look to data for insights has never been higher; but the key to success is in not just looking in a historical sense, but providing context (using location, time of day, device, etc.) to this data in order to predict future habits and intents and meet those needs with the right content. The business case for real-time, contextual interaction is there, as almost 70% of consumers across the globe are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

Here, then, are the three basic real-time marketing mistakes that many brands are making - and how to solve them:

  1. No 'real' strategy for real-time marketing
    As consumers flock toward mobile devices to do everything from reading the news to executing complex banking transactions, the demand on marketers to engage with them in real-time and create better experiences has never been greater. The imagination of executives is running wild with ideas to engage and develop relationships with customers wherever they might be. However, too many firms are only implementing ideas and not a cohesive strategy. This is quite common in the airline industry where loyal fliers will subscribe to status updates and download mobile apps providing lots of valuable data that power valuable real-time use cases.

    However, the email and web experiences for these same customers are impersonal and often leverage old data despite having real-time user data. In a study conducted by the CMO Council, 56% of companies consider themselves to be customer-centric, but when the customers of these companies are asked about their experiences, only 12% agree. This suggests that companies believe they're delivering value, but they're not putting themselves in the shoes of the consumer and understanding just how disjointed all of their interactions actually appear to their customers. Since most interactions happen in real-time, it's critical that the data driving those interactions is always complete and up-to-date.

  2. Disconnected data sources
    Whenever a new channel is developed, marketers immediately start running the race to see how quickly they can get their brand on the channel regardless of process, which usually means a specialised tool. However, the explosion of unique tools, data sources, and the big data associated quickly becomes unmanageable. The problem is complicated and lots of companies simply leave it be, and that's a huge issue for consumers! 90% of consumers say that they will use multiple devices when making purchases. But if your business has numerous data silos and disconnected profiles for each data source, a consumer is going to have to start all over again whenever they move from one channel to the next. Combining historical transaction details, current relevant data and demographic information into one single unified view of the customer will drive real-time marketing.

    Businesses around the world lose over US$80 billion a year simply due to poor experiences as almost 89% of consumers will begin doing business with a competitor following a poor experience. The most effective real-time marketing is when a consumer knows that no matter when and where they interact with your brand, you're using the data they've voluntarily provided. If you're just starting on a Single Customer View (SCV) journey, make your first goal to match-up customer records from each source so you know the size of your customer base and can pull the right information from the correct data source when needed.

  3. Internal process delays
    From a real-time marketing perspective, executives will pay a lot of attention to the people and the technology, but often fail to think about process. Because real-time happens so fast, a lot of the processes that exist for traditional marketing simply don't translate. The shelf life for some real-time use cases is measured in seconds and missing that window will render the insight or opportunity worthless. In fact, it's very difficult to have a process when things need to happen in real-time.

    The answer is to look at technology as a way to help scale and execute real-time marketing strategies in lieu of a process. Marketers should consider tools that have the critical campaign management capabilities with a Single Customer View, reporting, and real-time execution channels all deeply integrated as one real-time marketing solution. With one solution, marketers can design journeys and optimize moments of engagement in real-time at scale and worry-free.

Today's customer journey is completely driven by consumer behaviour and preferences making real-time marketing one of the most important digital and ecommerce requirements of any business. Even through the myriad of platforms consumers use to interact with a business, 60% of millennials surveyed by SDL expect a consistent experience from brands whether they interact online, in store or via phone. These statistics indicate how critical it is for marketers to deliver the best customer experience possible.

"Customers have changed their expectations for engagement and in order to remain competitive you need to make rapid changes to adapt," concluded O'Neill. "Make sure you are constantly re-evaluating your tactics to provide the best omnichannel experience, as the new channels and methods of engagement customers are using today are only the beginning."