The key to getting real-time marketing right is making sure you're sending the right message to the right person, at the right time and in the right place. As we've started personalizing marketing to a higher degree, we've introduced exciting amounts of complexity to our targeting. It's no longer good enough to send one message to an entire segment of customers, or to run an ad on a Sunday and expect consumers to react to it throughout the week. Getting one element of the mix wrong is a rather good way to ensure your marketing just isn't right.
When you've targeted the wrong person
It's difficult to claim marketing success if it's going to the wrong person – that's basically the entire point of personalization. For the sake of argument let's say your message is on point, and promoting an item that's available at that location at that time – maybe it's raining and you're offering Tim an umbrella at a store he happens to be near. But he doesn't want the umbrella. He already has the umbrella because he picked one up last week. Greg does want an umbrella, but he didn't get the message. Wrong person, marketing fail.
Sending relevant offers to the right person means knowing who they are, what they like, what they've bought, and what they're likely or intending to buy. It means knowing whether they're a loyal customer who's going to come in anyway, or whether they're on the verge of defecting so receptive to a little strategic discounting. It means knowing whether they'll even respond to discounting – or what they will respond to.
When you haven't considered where people actually are
If it's raining in New York but Greg's in LA, he's not going to care a very great deal about your umbrella promotion (it never rains in California). And if he is in New York but on the other side of the city, he's not going to be overly impressed with an offer that's only available at a store he's nowhere near. Even if you know that's his regular store, it's still the wrong location, because he's not there NOW. There's always a chance he may be willing to travel cross-city for a fantastic umbrella bargain, but you really shouldn't be betting on it. Similarly, if you're promoting offers in an area where stores aren't stocking the products in question, or aren't participating in the promotion, or where the employees have no idea what's going on, you're not going to be very popular. The only way you're going to scrape up a win is if you can make people believe the offer is worth the hassle of traveling out of their way.
When you've forgotten time differences are a thing
The obvious example of getting timing horribly wrong is not allowing for time zones. If you're an international brand and you've scheduled all of your push messages to go out at 11am local time, you're going to receive some very irate messages from customers overseas. Even if they're interested in the promo, having your offer wake them up (and around 2/3 of adults say they sleep with their phone by their bed) is not going to go down too well with many people. It's certainly not going to be immediately acted upon, which really defeats the purpose of of in-the-moment personalized marketing – ie, making sure you reach your customers at the exact moment when they're looking to buy. If, on the other hand, you know Linda's out and about at 2am and that a cheeseburger would really hit the spot about now, then that would be good timing. Just remember to set the time zone appropriately…
When you've sent completely the wrong message
People respond better to marketing that's targeted specifically to them. We know this – we've proved this – so the right message is not going to be the same for everyone. If Tim, Greg and Linda all receive your generic umbrella promotion, it'll maybe resonate with one of them, but probably only if it ticks the other personalization boxes (very few people are going to travel very far to buy an umbrella. Even a really nice one.) So targeting the right person, location and timing doesn't count for a whole heck of a lot if the offer's not one that they're likely to respond to.
And this isn't about your creative. You could have the best looking, wittiest, most socially engaging marketing messaging possible; it still won't work if the offer's irrelevant. If I hate coffee, you're not hooking me with your coffee promo, and if I have zero interest in fashion your swanky e-vite to a VIP show and product launch won't fly – it's really that simple.