In digital direct marketing, a paradigm shift has taken place from campaign-centred communication to customer-centred interaction. The speed with which customers interact in this communication is also increasing rapidly. When dealing with mobile, “always on” customers, truly customer-centred communication means responding to customer behaviour in real time and including previously unknown data derived from the context of use (e.g. Where is the customer now? What is at that location? What is the weather like?) and to adjust the communication dynamically according to the information gained. Realtime Marketing Automation is the key.

Relevant, customer-centred communication does not only mean individualising communication according to the requirements, interests, consumer behaviour etc. of the individual customer. Relevance now has to take into account speed, context sensitivity and live up-to-dateness.

From Marketing to Realtime Marketing Automation

The key to context-sensitive, truly up-to-date communication lies in the correct use of realtime marketing automation. “Classic” marketing automation mostly means that customers are selected based on existing data and then automatically approached with a relatively static dialogue course. Customer responses to a campaign are registered, analysed and taken into account with a time delay, which means the information is only relevant for the next campaign. Realtime marketing automation on the other hand controls the dialogue in a flexible way. The technology responds to events (triggers) in real time with relevant communication and dynamically adapts this to the context and the current data available. Important parts of the data that are necessary for this are not known in advance and are only captured at the moment when a trigger occurs, either through an interaction with the customer or through unforeseeable amendments of other data, such as change of price or weather data. Based on this new data, the communication measure is created, amended and output in real time.

Taking into Account the Context of Use

Context sensitivity means that the context in which the customer receives or uses the information is taken into account. Contexts may be the following:

  • The location: If the customer is on a shopping spree through the high-street, you could e.g. approach him via app notification with special offers from nearby shops including directions and discount vouchers. We will come back in detail on the subject of “mobile contexts” in Trend 4.
  • The weather: When it’s sunny, the customer will receive offers for sun glasses. When it’s raining, the latest blu ray hits for cosy movie night in will be suggested to him.
  • The time of day: When the customer opens e.g., a newsletter during the day, special offers from the nearest branch will be displayed. If he opens the newsletter at home after closing time, offers from the online shop will be promoted. The addressing changes depending on the time of day: “Good morning”, “Enjoy your evening”, “Still awake?”
  • The terminal device used: Apple users (more affluent than Android users according to studies) will be displayed higher priced offers. Media offers (e.g. music) will be directly linked to the app store of the used operating system. On terminal devices with retina display, graphics have a higher resolution.
  • Interaction in the Customer Lifecycle: If the customer signals a certain demand through his interaction, it is important to respond in real time and with the correct communication. If a customer opens e.g., a newsletter while at the same time browsing through a specific product category in the online shop, the newsletter could automatically display dynamic offers from this category.

Up-to-dateness Makes High Demands on Data Availability

In order to make context-sensitive communication relevant for the customer, it must be up to date. Content which adapts to obsolete weather data or messages which supposedly refer to a shop location the customer has long since passed by, are of little effect or are even annoying for the customer. Up-to-dateness is generally highly relevant when the communication includes data which can suddenly change and where even “small” changes can have significant impacts on the derived communication message.
For example: if the geo-fencing function detects that a customer is currently located near the shop (PoS), he is a loyalty card owner and has a 10GBP voucher, then the probability is high that relevant and immediate communication can persuade him to make a spontaneous purchase. Half an hour later and the opportunity is gone. If, in addition, the insufficient availability and/or up-to-dateness of the loyalty card data doesn’t allow for the establishment of whether a specific voucher has already been redeemed yesterday, this important purchase incentive cannot be used for spontaneous communication. The speed and availability in data processes is therefore becoming a key criterium in the exploitation of modern, customer-centered communication.
In addition to the ability of capturing data in real time after sparking the trigger and to being able to analyse this data and output the correct communication measures based on the results of the analysis, realtime marketing automation must also be able to dynamically adjust content. The following example will illustrate this: The newsletter is not sent with fixed content but blank. Instead of content, the email contains dynamic spaceholders which are only filled with content when the email is opened. When the user opens the email, the required data (e.g. current weather forecast) will be accessed within milliseconds and contents matching the data will be displayed in the placeholders. Such ultra-responsive formats enable real-time capability even in campaigns which are not sent in real time.


Relevance in marketing and service communication does no longer only mean individualisation of the communication based on existing customer data, such as purchase history. Relevance in communication is increasingly gained through up-to-dateness and speed based on the consideration of the customer’s context of use, such as e.g., his location, the weather or terminal device which is used. The capacity for real-time marketing is becoming vital for success. Companies must be able to deal with previously unknown data in real time, to analyse it and based on the analysis results output the correct communication measures or dynamically adapt communicated content without any time delay.