But wait: There’s more. Way more. We don’t have to stick to emails anymore. Social media messages can be personalized and sent in real time. So can text messages, website notifications, and the almost futuristic beacons.
All of this is happening now. Over a million beacons will be installed in US stores this year. We’ve got the technology to share what the Gap screen lady knew, and the types of messages we can send are getting better ― and harder to ignore.
Companies like Google get this. Retail beacons can work with any Google product or service. They can even send data to partner applications. And they’re also working on which channel delivers these messages. Interestingly enough, they’re relaunching Google Glass, too.
While the technology around real-time personalized messaging is cool, fundamentally it’s not the technology that actually makes this work. … It’s us. It’s how we respond to messages.
Going all the way back to the time of mid-century advertising legend David Ogilvy, marketers knew that when you sent a message mattered. And timing still matters.
The old-school catalogers had a formula that considered timing. It let them pick which people on their list they were going to mail a catalog to. The term they used, “Recency, Frequency, and Monetary” (or “RFM”, as some of you know all too well), referred to how recently a customer had purchased, how many times they had purchased, and how much money they had spent cumulatively on those purchases.
Think of it as the very first version of an algorithm for targeting the right customers.
But that was just a formula. Human-to-human interactions are much more sophisticated. Ask any sales person if timing matters … or even any savvy pre-teen or teenage kid. As humans, we know very well that there are good times and bad times to ask for things.
A simple example of this in modern marketing is the welcome email. Welcome emails get crazy-high engagement rates. The only other kind of email that gets higher engagement rates is a transaction email or a birthday email. And birthday emails are another example of a well-timed, personalized message.