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Published in Digital Marketing category on (05/04/2017)

What Is Real-Time Marketing and Why Do You Need It?

How Real-Time Marketing Will Help You Market Successfully in a Post-Digital World

Digital is becoming like air: the only time you’ll notice it, is when it’s not there.

— Anonymous

In-person events, which has been rated the most effective tactic for the last six years, increased from 69% to 75%.
— Content Marketing Institute, 2016

As marketers, we’re not just being overwhelmed by the dizzying array of marketing technology or methodology — Real-Time Marketing, Agile Marketing, ABM or even Neuromarketing. No, we’re being inundated with marketing stats — stats and benchmark reports that remind us how much we’re falling behind or failing to meet the mark. And all of these stats are made possible by the precision tracking brought to us by the digital marketing revolution. In fact, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t receive some email from a martech brand telling me they have a new benchmark report about why open rates are down or mainstream tactics are failing. It’s a lot to take in and in many cases these stats can wind up making marketers feel overwhelmed and anxious.

So the last thing I want to do is add to your stress. But if you’re in B2B marketing, there is one little marketing stat that I think you should know about. A stat that could mean the difference between exponential growth or decline. Every year Content Marketing Institute puts out its annual benchmark report. In their latest 2016 report, they asked respondents this simple question: “How effective are the tactics your organization uses?” The response might very well blow your mind. It wasn’t webinars or whitepapers or case studies or any of the usual suspects. It wasn’t any new “sophisticated’ digital marketing tactic. It was in-person events. Yup, that’s right. You read correctly–events. But get this. Not only did in-person events outrank every other tactic in 2016, “events” also outranked every other tactic for 6 years in a row. I’ll let that sink in. For the last 6 years, no other tactic has come close to being as effective as in-person events.

But wait, there’s more. According to this report, events actually increased in effectiveness from the previous year: “In-person events, which has been rated the most effective tactic for the last six years, increased from 69% to 75%.” That’s right — although many marketers have assumed that in-person events were becoming less effective due to the digitization of the marketing profession, they’re actually becoming more effective the more marketing digitizes. How do we account for this anomaly? How do we make sense of the fact that events, which were often undervalued in the digital marketing department, have now become the new star of the digital marketing paradigm?

But that’s just it. For all the talk about data-driven marketing, analytics, and attribution, we’re no longer in a digital marketing paradigm. Or haven’t you noticed? If you haven’t gotten the memo, we’ve left digital marketing behind, and we’re now in the brave new world of post-digital marketing.

I know what you’re thinking. Are we entering some dark, dystopian universe where ones and zeros no longer matter? Have we gone back to the dark ages of traditional marketing — back to outbounding, sales collateral, mass marketing, and the rolodex? Should you dust off that direct mail program? Unequivocally, no. A post-digital world is simply one where digitization has become a part of our everyday lives. Let me be more specific. In his recent talk at the Forrester Marketing 2016 conference about how to succeed as a marketer in a “post-digital world,” Forrester analyst Carlton Doty defined “post-digital” as the point at which digital technology is embedded in our daily lives as consumers, as professionals — as human beings”. Or as one pundit put it, when digital becomes like air “the only time you’ll notice it, is when it’s not there.”

The Road to Post-Digital

For millennial marketers and other digital natives, it’s hard to image a time when digital wasn’t embedded into our everyday lives. But a great way to think about it is that in a digital world the boundaries between offline and online remain relatively rigid. For instance, in the digital world, you might have had your coterie of real world friends and associates, but also a separate group of friends and associates that you engaged with only online. You know, your real friends versus your “facebook friends.” In a post-digital world, those boundaries between online and offline start to elide or completely disappear. Breaking down barriers between these two seemingly disparate worlds is what some call a “digital exponential” effect. However, in a post-digital world, online and offline are no longer viewed or even experienced separately and any agent that bridges these two worlds is quintessentially “post-digital.”

Not only was there a time before digital was embedded into our everyday lives, but Doty also presents a compelling argument that marketing’s evolution has been marked by three distinct  phases:

  1. Pre-digital marketing — or a one-to-many paradigm
  2. Digital marketing — one-to-one paradigm
  3. Post-digital marketing — one-to-moment paradigm

Allow me to unpack this a bit. Traditional or pre-digital marketing was defined by a one-to-many ethos or what we commonly refer to as mass communication. Think TV commercials and billboards or even old school marketing collateral. In contrast, the much heralded digital marketing revolution finally brought one-to-one communication to marketers. Think Internet, personalization, and attribution. In contrast to both traditional and digital marketing, Doty suggests that post-digital marketing is all about a battle for the moment. In fact, if Doty’s theory holds any water, your success as a marketer in this new paradigm will largely depend on your ability to adapt to the “one-to-moment” marketing paradigm.

Of course I don’t mean that literally, but hear me out. We’ve obviously never stopped being human, but by becoming digitally disembodied as marketers, bit by bit we began to lose our humanity. As we began to see our prospects and customers as numbers, not real people with problems, we started to forget that we got into business to bring a solution to market to help real people. By referring to those in our databases as “contacts” or “names”  instead of people, our engagement became transactional. Without face-to-face interaction, we lost the ability to read our customer’s body language and began an even more difficult game of trying to read the tea leaves of “digital body language.” We lost, in other words, the ability to connect with our customers in a deep or meaningful way.

Real-Time Marketing or “Moment Marketing”

So yes, while post-digital marketing is a clear shift back to offline experiences, it’s actually about more than getting back in touch with the real world. Simply put, it’s about getting back to being human again. With this in mind, we can start to see why events have become the new star of a post-digital world. Events are becoming so effective for marketers primarily because they provide customers with a holistic experience. The key to the success of in-person events in this new marketing paradigm is the fact that they provide a near seamless integration between our online and offline worlds: a complete lifestyle, enriched and enabled by technology rather than engulfed by it.

4 Reasons Why Events Will Help Enterprises Win the Battle for the “Moment”

Is it any wonder then that events have become the most effective marketing tactic for the last 6 years? Or that Demand Gen Report now ranks in-person events higher than webinars for producing results? While in-person events are effective for organizations of all sizes, they are especially powerful for B2B enterprise marketers. Large enterprises often have difficulty staying in touch with customers over time. Hosted events and conferences offer the opportunity to reaffirm existing relationships, ensure customer success, and better understand the needs of a brand’s customer base through product and event marketing functions. I have argued before in this blog, that “events are content, but they are so much more—they delimit the final frontier of Big Content.” By creating contextual content, in-person events enable large enterprises to look, feel, and act like a small company–providing “personal(ized)” experiences and deep engagement for customers that can put a much-need face to a large company and humanize it. Indeed, events allow enterprise brands to embed themselves in their customers’ natural behaviors so they can deliver the kind of contextual content that will take advantage of every moment.

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce our new Guide to Real-Time Marketing, designed to help you win every moment. In this guide, you’ll learn how and why events are bringing unparalleled engagement in a post-digital marketing landscape:

  1. Events Collect Micro-Moments: Event Automation helps you gather critical data on micro-moments — event intelligence and buying signals — so that you can gain a “whole” view of your customer and start to anticipate your customers’ needs
  2. Events Create Micro-Moments: Event Automation depends upon mobile, but mobile is just one of many channels that comprise the post-digital experience of in-person events, which by definition is multi-channel. By leveraging every marketing channel, events thus provide a complete or holistic engagement with your prospects and customers. In fact, events themselves provide the very context that make micro-moments possible.
  3. Events Deliver Just-in-Time Contextual Content: Because events provide both the context for moments and the means to win in those moments, Event Automation integrated with marketing automation will help you deliver contextual content—content that matters to your customer — “just-in-time,” when your prospects and customers are going to be most receptive to your message.
  4. Events Deliver Brand Promise: Events enable companies to become first-responders during critical “intent-driven” moments where customer loyalty is won or lost. By providing just-in-time, contextual content — such as session recommendations, surveys, meeting requests — Event automation allows you to deliver on your brand promise, exponentially increasing engagement and building life-time loyalty.

Ultimately, in-person events help you become relevant again to your customers and prospects so that you can start to market to them again. Events create opportunities so that you can offer your prospects and customers highly contextual content during critical “intent-driven” moments.  In short, Event Eutomation is your go-to platform if you’re a B2B enterprise who wants to win in micro-moments. If you need to increase marketing efficiency and still take advantage of every customer moment, you need to start investing in real-time marketing with Event Automation.

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