July 17, 2016
To win customers, market in real time
By: Thomas Mouritzen

With just-in-time marketing, companies can deliver on the micro moments that are crucial in a customer journey.

With a swipe of a finger, a person can dismiss marketing messages or notifications he doesn’t like or want on his mobile phone. A deletion is just a tap away.

As consumers become increasingly bombarded with marketing messages, e.g., from banks, telcos or credit card companies, they tire of content that do not seem important or appear at the wrong time.

Relevance is sought after even more today. While it is easy to reach the millions of inboxes of consumers today who share more of their data online, it is harder to engage them. Getting their attention means being there when and where it matters.

Mass marketing content aimed at reaching the broadest customer possible audience is proving to be less successful today, according to an Accenture survey of more than 500 chief marketing officers globally.

The survey—Waste or Win? The case for Just-in-Time Marketing—reported that as little as 20 percent of customers typically reached are interested in the promoted product or are even able to buy it.

This is where just-in-time marketing matters. Focused on creating marketing content that’s needed, when it’s needed and attuning it to the needs of interested customers at the right time, it is a strategy that brings better returns.

Thirty-eight percent of the companies Accenture identified as just-in-time marketers have grown their annual revenues by more than 25 percent, compared to 12 percent of their peers.

Key to this is identifying and delivering on what are known as micro moments. These are the points-in-time when a consumer forms or makes buying decisions during a long journey from discovery to purchase that involves multiple touch points. Each micro moment is defined by a consumer intention such as I-want-to-know, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-go, and I-want-to-buy.

Consider how one buys a TV, for example. From the time he seeks recommendations online and searches for a set he likes to the moment when he places an order and speaks to a sales person at a shop, can a TV retailer provide helpful hints or clues to assist him in his decision?

Companies that are there during such micro moments will thrive in an increasingly competitive business world. More than a product or service, they deliver a customised experience that consumers will come back for.

Delivering on the micro moments

To use just-in-time marketing to deliver on the micro moments, brands need to consider three key areas:

  1. Before engaging customers, it is important to discover the micro moments that matter in each customer’s journey. In the discovery phase, for example, product reviews are useful to help a customer make an informed decision.

    Consider creating a digital DNA of each customer by piecing together all the data available from both traditional and new online sources. From membership schemes or purchase history, companies can form a picture of a customer’s preferences. At the same time, new channels such as social media and online communities where users gather can also add to the richness of data.

  2. A company then has to be ready at multiple touch points where and when micro moments may occur. Be this online on a Facebook page or in-store with a sales representative, the key to winning a customer is in being prepared to assist him.

    Use analytics to determine where and when to get in touch. The millions of devices online today, including smartwatches, smartphones and desktop PCs provide opportunities to mine data, understanding what consumers are seeking.

  3. Make the customer journey seamless across traditional and digital channels. From anticipating his needs to delivering clear advice and making the checkout for a sale go smoothly, a company has to be in tune with the customer at all touchpoints of the journey to seal the deal.

    By providing instantaneous information, say, on stock availability of a certain phone model in a preferred colour and allowing a customer to reserve it tentatively, an “I-want-to-know” moment is fulfilled. This creates value in the eyes of a customer. On the other hand, if a customer orders an item and selects an in-store collection but a store has not gotten the memo when he turns up, obviously the experience is broken.

Designing the customer experience today means addressing the right combination of business objectives, customer-centric behaviour and expectation, and technology.

Early movers will have an advantage. Using just-in-time marketing to customise each customer journey, the best brands to deliver on these micro moments will win and keep customers. Done right, the marketing messages appearing on a customer’s phone will not be swiped away. Rather, they will deepen the relationship.

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