As marketers, we’ve grown reliant on data – of all shapes and sizes. No matter how seemingly inconsequential, we crave the data.

The pandemic has gone and ruined the perfect data-driven pictures we’d created of our customers, our market and our products, to set strategies for growth. This creates a big challenge for marketers even as we transition to ‘living with covid’.

Before the pandemic, we never would have made strategic marketing decisions on data that was two years old. That’s exactly what most marketers are being asked to do right now. Unfortunately, we have to consign the past two years of data to the bin, just like the kettlebells, athleisurewear and whatever other fad purchases we made under the duress of the pandemic.

Real-time data, or bust!

New viral strains have created hesitancy and reluctance to return to previous ‘normal’ behaviors even if there are no restrictions forcing their hand. And this consumer hesitancy has a significant impact.

McKinsey data shows that 65% of consumers have experienced different shopping behaviors over the pandemic and as a result, are more uncertain about their purchasing decisions, often leaving it until the last possible minute before spending. Intention research also shows that consumers will still look for longer in advance, but the final decision won’t be made until they’re closer to the deadline when they’re absolutely sure they’re committing to attend.

This means that data that is just a few weeks old is often out of date. Real-time data is the only way businesses can ensure they stay connected to the trends and tastes of the market, and relevant to customers.

It sounds complex, but there are many sources of real-time data that marketers can procure. Search, web visits, basket behavior and abandonment, even payments data, if accessed quickly can provide valuable insights. It’s all about analyzing upticks in recent hours now rather than days.

Building marketing success from the post-pandemic data black hole

Act with agility

Access to data in real-time is only part of the equation. It must go hand in hand with an agile approach. Agile marketing values speed, iteration and flexibility– so marketers can best respond to their customer’s tastes and reactions instantaneously.

Data-based insights allow businesses to orchestrate marketing campaigns with a ‘King of the Hill’ approach. This means that content optimization learned from a sub-set of consumers, can be rolled out at scale and in real-time.

You can use real-time data in practice to make quicker decisions for A/B testing, media spend, and promotions. Brands must embrace new technologies for in-flight marketing, to bolster engagement through agility and consumer personalization options.

And for paid promotion, we used to plan media buying in advance as we could plan and anticipate trends, but now we have to be agile and reactive to trends and react accordingly. Agile thinking allows for marketers to better understand which campaigns are working, so then budgets can be allocated more effectively to trigger conversion.

The power of rapid personalization

As consumers embrace a blending of digital and physical experiences coming out of the pandemic, brands must capitalize on personalization to maintain customer loyalty when it’s been most affected. With 91% of consumers saying they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, and 74% of consumers only willing to engage with personalized messaging, it’s essential for every marketing strategy.

In the marketing world, it is possible to personalize marketing copy and offers at rapid speed and scale. But it can only achieve through near real-time data collection, analysis, and automation. For marketers, the goal is to engage both their current and future customers by communicating on a personal level. This will improve the customer experience, drive revenue, increase brand loyalty and create consistency across channels.

Personalized experience in-store or at a restaurant are important ways of putting the real-time data, and the agility of the business into practice. Consumers want immersive and engaging experiences with staff and other customers when they visit retail or hospitality businesses. Retailers deepen their engagement by providing these personalized connections, with 80% of companies reporting an uplift since implementing personalization.

Personalization should never be underestimated – a business can strengthen it’s offering by harnessing customization, providing a bespoke experience for its customers which in turn drives experience and loyalty. To realize the potential of personalization, brands must ensure they’re applying the data they have when marketing their product or service, with the experiential element factored in.

Final thoughts

Marketers have never needed to be so engaged with real-time data to understand what their customers want and be able to tailor their marketing mix reactively and with agility to increase conversion. As the speed at which trends and interests form and dissipate in the online space has never been faster, we need to ensure we approach customers with a personalized and tailored approach to build brand loyalty and retain engagement.


Dan Arden is Senior Director of Global CRM and Marketing Operations at Groupon

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