Harnessing the immediacy genie

The need for Immediacy underlines brand-communication

Research shows that, increasingly, customers have replaced values linked to individualism, freedom, reason and globalisation with values such as community, authenticity and – notably – proximity. This means that marketers need to be as close as possible – both in location and time – to their target market, in order to deliver an effective message to, and to receive effective feedback from, customers.

No one lifts an eyebrow anymore when hearing that social networks have an uncanny ability to perform powerfully as immediate live-wires when newsworthy events unfold. It is now a known fact that social networks offer immediacy – but does this powerful feature of social networks dovetail with other marketing channels, and, if so, how?

Marketers can harness the immediacy genie and initiate customer-response triggers in various ways across all marketing channels. In these cases, immediacy manifests through a swift reaction to information entered by customers or obtained through a variety of behavioural triggers.

SEO and SEM help brand-owners to drive context-sensitive adverts in real time, literally nullifying the time-lag between an event (customer using certain keywords or a behavioural trigger being set) and the corresponding contextual advert.

Behavioural targeting is used to offer promotions, publish special announcements and to present real-time adverts that are based on customers’ previous searches and purchases. Amazon.com’s “people who bought this book also bought…” and LinkedIn’s “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” features proved to be extremely successful. Amazon.com also makes extensive use of context-rich email missives, in conjunction with its website, while LinkedIn use social signals to push what they believe to be relevant, as does Facebook, through its EdgeRank and other algorithms.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once”, said Albert Einstein. Assume that the same can be applied to behavioural targeting and that there are various levels of immediacy –

  1. First level of immediacy: context-sensitive adverts are presented as user enters content, while searching or visiting a social site. This is already an existing feature on Google, and one can expect to see it on Facebook soon
  2. Second level of immediacy: cookies used by websites record previous purchases and searches, enabling marketers to offer behaviourally targeted promotions and messaging, presented as soon as the user returns to the site
  3. Third level of immediacy: data collected through past search and web activity could be used to drive relevant messaging, and message response can be used further to drive more relevant on-site experience.

The three levels of immediacy enable marketers to use data collected and analysed across various channels – such as social networks, email and the web – in order to achieve maximum impact.

Time-sensitive decisions are made frequently in various industries. In retail, for example, marketers have limited time to trigger a basket-reminder email before the opportunity lapses. Similar constraints apply to the travel and hospitality industry, where flights and accommodation bookings have time-limits.

Combining immediacy and proximity 

Nowadays, marketers can use social networking, email, the web – and the combined knowledge of customers’ history – to generate a meaningful dialogue.

According to Les Tapolczai, Toronto, Ontario based director of marketing & planning at Henderson Bas Kohn, the convergence of mobile technology and social networking enables lightening-speed sharing. The fact that all channels are available through mobile devices means that marketers can now communicate with ‘customers on the go’ – getting their message across wherever customers might be. Developments in location-based marketing add another dimension to the concept of offering immediate brand-knowledge to customers at an optimal speed and in optimal proximity.

Marketers can use this formidable triangle that includes mobile technology, location-based marketing and multi-channel platforms, and benefit from the way these platforms drive immediate messages to, and solicit immediate response from, customers.

Marketers should seek, expect and anticipate the effects of immediacy at every stage of a campaign, and across every channel. When, for example, marketers send out an email campaign, they should anticipate responses on social networks as well as via email. They should therefore monitor all owned and earned media, and have resources ready to respond – if need be. This also means that marketers need to establish and maintain message-consistency across multiple channels.

It is important to remember that immediacy is a double-edged sword, enabling quick real-time access to customers, while narrowing the margin for errors. Since these channels serve as catalysts in the relationship between brands and customers on-the-go, marketers will need to keep an eye on the immediacy genie and harness the power it affords, while doing their very best to keep it well locked in its bottle.

#Immediacy#marketing channels#behavioural triggers#lightening-speed sharing