Time is a very important, and often overlooked, factor in modern marketing. If you were to analyse the send times of major marketing efforts in the retail, gaming and financial services sectors, you would notice a shift to Friday afternoons for the majority of targeted comms. This is naturally explained by the fact that segmentation decisioning and creative development are worked on during office hours, but will your customers understand, or even care? When you think about what you know about your customers, traditional data clusters around:

  • Behavioural/attitudinal – e.g. age, gender, marital status
  • Transactional – e.g. what products they have bought
  • Analytical – e.g. statistical models, web tracking data

But in the world of modern targeted CRM (both inbound and outbound), another important cluster exists: Temporal – e.g. email open/click time, inbound channel visit time The timing of when a customer performed an action is at least as important as what the action was. For example, a customer who reads the majority of their emails on the way into work will have to scroll a way down their inbox to find your interaction if your email to them is 12-15 hours old at that time. Taking outbound in isolation for a moment, segmenting your customers by temporal factors could allow you to create segments such as this simplistic open time example:

  • Morning email open – open majority of emails 12pm
  • Afternoon email open – open majority of emails 12pm – 6pm
  • Evening email open – open majority of emails after 6pm
  • Push – send time and open time close together, so send at any time

The last case there is important, as many sophisticated smartphone users will open emails any time they are awake, but still important to take into account earliest open times etc. Once you add in click times into the mix, you can build out something very sophisticated, and broadcast emails to each segment at an appropriate time, guaranteeing you a higher slot in the customer’s inbox, giving you a measurably higher response rate to a campaign. While you could do this in any data segmentation tool given access to the data, this functionality is actually automated out-of-the-box in IBM Marketing Cloud (formerly Silverpop) in the form of Send Time Optimisation (STO). It’s an incredibly powerful capability operated by a single switch, allowing you to drip-feed temporally optimised communications into inboxes over a 24 hour or 7-day period. When you take inbound into account, a key factor to consider in Temporal Personalisation is purchase intent. Site visitors (either a prospect or an existing customer) purchase intent will vary considerably by time of day and day of week. Will a site visitor at 11pm be looking to make a purchase there and then? Unlikely. Does a site visitor looking at the site at work have the same intent to purchase as they do in the evening, or weekend? With this in mind we can tailor the type and value of marketing messages presented to customers based on these factors, and when combined with the behavioural, the transactional and the analytical, a formidable offering will begin to emerge. And if you factor in geo-locational capabilities, like location and weather, the real time targeting capabilities will start to border on precognitive…

by Tim Biddiscombe


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