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Real time marketing: an explosive concept

October 24, 2013

In August 1883, the volcanic island of Krakatoa in the Pacific Ocean erupted. The entire island was blown apart, and the resulting tsunami killed tens of thousands of people on other islands in the vicinity.

The volcanic dust thrown into the atmosphere created climate shifts around the world, and people as far away as Britain and the United States witnessed startling red sunsets caused by particles in the atmosphere.
It was one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history, with over 36,000 deaths being attributed to the eruption.

But what made Krakatoa perhaps so distinct from other major events was the introduction of the transoceanic telegraph cables.

It was one of the first times that detailed descriptions of a colossal news event travelled around the world quickly. Readers of daily newspapers in Europe and North America were able to follow current reports of the disaster and its enormous implications.

The news of Lincoln’s assassination less than 20 years earlier had taken 12 days to reach Europe, as it had to be carried by ship. But when Krakatoa erupted, a telegraph station at Batavia (present day Jakarta) was able to send the news to Singapore. Dispatches were relayed quickly, and literally within hours newspaper readers in Europe and North America were being informed of the dramatic events in these distant waters.

As Simon Winchester, author of, “Krakatoa, the Day the World Exploded,” writes, “In learning of these places and the terrible events that occurred there, so the world’s people suddenly became part of a new brotherhood of knowledge and, in a sense, it was that day in August 1883 that the modern phenomenon known as the ‘Global Village’ was born.”.

Global Village is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan, popularised in his books “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man,” and, “Understanding Media.” McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of information around the world. Modern technology has provided us with a global research and communication instrument, allowing for the instant broadcast and real time retrieval of information, and significantly for marketers, the ability to process speedily tailored data of commercial value. As one of the biggest topics of discussion in 2013, real-time marketing has been given several definitions. According to a recent DMA and Neolane survey these include, “dynamic personalised content across channels and, developing quick response to mainstream events.” Regardless of which definition is adopted, many marketers are still struggling to determine how or where to get started.  Email is one channel in which marketers can begin sending real-time marketing messages. Reactive, real-time marketing is extremely effective when a customer needs immediate service or information.  Where consumers are seeking assistance there is an expectation of real-time response.  In such situations, it is vitally important to respond accordingly to provide a higher level of service and improve the customer experience. Data availability is one of the biggest challenges to harnessing real-time marketing, but even at the most basic level, marketers still have customer, web and purchase information that can and should be utilised. By understanding the purchase history and behaviour of your customers, marketers can determine the next message and most appropriate content to drive the customer back to their preferred purchase channel or product set.There are times however that real-time responses can raise customer concerns about how much and what types of personal data brands are capturing and using in their marketing campaigns. Consider the woman who has just bought a new dress and immediately receives an offer for matching new shoes and handbag. Whilst the offer may be relevant to the purchase, such a rapid response may hint at “big brother watching.”But, at its most effective, real-time marketing has become synonymous with generating new creative content very quickly, based on the context of a customer situation to ensure relevance. Customers expect brands to be aware of the world around them and to know their audience and what they care about. By responsibly and responsively engaging with your customers, you can increase your brand loyalty.Real-time marketing success starts with a brand's day-to-day activity, not a single well-timed moment. By implementing small, real-time marketing initiatives on a regular basis your audience will learn to expect timely, relevant communications from your brand. And when you want to stand out from the crowd, what’s more explosive than that?

Posted by Rebecca McCormick

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