Marketing Insights in Real-Time

Written by: Patrick Kilgore on 11/9/16 2:25 PM

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Real-time data has become a common expectation in marketing technology products. Once you know the option exists to see how your marketing campaigns are playing out instantaneously, who wants to wait days, weeks, or months?

The problem that quickly becomes apparent, however, is that data doesn’t immediately reveal valuable insights. Someone has to perform an analysis of that data for it to tell you something you can use.

As nice as real-time data sounds, what you really want are real-time insights.

Are real-time marketing insights even possible?

Technology can do the work of collecting data – huge quantities of it even – but people are required for analysis. And people need time. They can’t mine through huge quantities of data in a spreadsheet and turn it into an actionable plan without some consideration.

Marketing data doesn’t belong in spreadsheets anymore though. There’s a better way.

When your marketing data can be filtered through marketing technology that both enables you to better visualize it and see how the different pieces of data all relate to each other, at least some of the job of analysis is done by the time your team is starting to look at the real-time data available to them.

There will still be some cycles invested, sure, but if your data has already been translated into marketing analytics that make seeing actionable insights easier by the time you first encounter it, you can actually start to make use of those analytics in real time.

What You Can Do With Real-Time Marketing Analytics

Having access to real-time analytics only matters if you leverage them. Here are two ways that real-time marketing analytics can pay off – and one warning to keep you from letting them lead you astray.

Link your marketing planning to real-time results.

Data-driven marketing planning requires data to work properly ­– it’s right there in the name. At least as importantly though, marketing planning has to involve ongoing analysis and updates based on what the data tells you.

For any business that’s committed to marketing planning, having clear marketing analytics that tell you how your campaigns are performing in real time is an important component to improving your results as you go. You can see which marketing tactics are working faster, and determine where to cut the fat that’s not moving your prospects forward before too much of your budget is needlessly spent on it.

Real-time analytics give you plenty of warning in advance if you’re not on track to meet your marketing goals so you can tweak your plans according (before quarterly reporting deadlines). Not every piece of information will merit immediate action, but recognizing when you’ll benefit from moving fast can pay off.

Real-time data enables more accurate personalization.

Everything you learn about your prospects gives you the power to deliver more customized, relevant marketing to them – but only if you’re paying attention at the moment you collect the information. Personalized marketing works best when it doesn’t just take data on who your prospects are into consideration, but also utilizes the data you have on precisely where they are in their buyer’s journey.

In other words, the right message at the wrong moment could fall flat, or worse, cause you to fall off a prospect’s radar completely. You need the message that will hook them and keep your product top of mind as a solution to their needs.

To know what that is, you often have to act fast in response to each new touch point. Getting just the right email, ad, or blog post in front of them when your brand is in their mind and they’re actively looking for the solution you’re able to provide could be just the thing that pushes them toward the point of sale.

Beware: Real-time analytics are only part of the big picture.

Many types of marketing are a long game. Something like SEO can take months, if not years, to pay off fully.  If you start trying to apply real-time analytics to your judgment of how well something like SEO or content marketing is meeting your goals, you could end up giving up on initiatives that could really pay off if you only gave them the time to do so.

Just because real-time marketing analytics are available doesn’t mean they should become the end all be all of your marketing measurement and planning processes. Your historical data and the trends you can see in your marketing analytics over a long period of time should still play a key role in your analysis of what’s working, especially since so many B2B purchases can take months or even over a year to actually turn into a sale.

Use your real-time marketing analytics to drive action in the areas where speed pays off, but continue to pay attention to your long-term analytics and what they have to tell you when it comes to your overarching marketing planning and goals.

For the best results, your marketing planning should combine a mix of analysis of both your historical marketing data and your real-time marketing analytics. The more data you look at and consider carefully, the better a grasp you’ll have of the big picture and the best steps to take to meet your long-term marketing goals. For that, real-time marketing analytics can help if you treat them as one small, but important part of the whole.

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Topics: Marketing Analytics, Hive9, Effective Planning