Rise Of The Real-Time Inbox: The Opportunity For Email Marketers In 2014

Before the advent of the internet, marketers relied on snail mail to reach audiences in mass quantities, not knowing for certain whether the people they targeted would even be interested in what they had to offer. Thankfully, the digital era has simplified the process of reaching audiences through other channels like email, social and mobile, and has provided the data necessary to know generally what that person will be interested in.


Yet, even in this digital age, marketers are missing opportunities to provide targeted and relevant messages to each individual customer or prospect. As the saying goes, there is a time and a place for everything, and that’s where the real-time inbox comes in. Now that we’ve entered the New Year, this is one email engagement technique companies should consider adding to their resolutions lists.

How It Works

Real-time inbox enables companies of all sizes and types to reach their audience at the right time, in the right place, and with the right offer. Not only is digital marketing technology ripe for deploying these types of sophisticated campaigns in 2014, but companies are designing consumer electronics with marketers in mind, allowing for more real-time interactions. For example, Apple’s iBeacon feature in iOS 7 allows marketers to locate customers in the geographic area, match the right offer to that person and quickly share content.

By leveraging geo-location information, companies can engage with prospective and new customers when they are in an area that makes sense for them to receive that information. Consider this: a retailer can send loyal customers a coupon via email.  By using Google Maps, each customer can see the nearest store locations so they can redeem their coupon or discount in-store — all based on the geo-location of where the email is opened.

Another example is to include an animated count-down clock for an online sale to show how much time is left for your customers to place an order at the sale price or with a coupon. Because your customers will be disappointed if they open the email after the countdown expires, a general offer can be pushed after the sale ends.

One final thing to keep in mind: as customers are mobile oriented and always on the go, marketers need to be able to reach them through the best or preferred channel.  If your customer opens an email on a mobile device, a great experience is to link them to your app in the appropriate app store.

Why It Works

As with any new marketing strategy, it is important to start small and test to find out what’s most effective for you and your customers. The best way to make relevant conversations with your customers is to send real-time and triggered campaigns in response to their various actions or events, such as recent purchases or a personal event like their birthday. The result is a relevant message that your customer is more likely to engage with and that’s easy to implement with automated campaigns.

The next step could be to try a real-time technology solution to test some of the types of examples mentioned above as they do the legwork and provide code to easily drop into your creative.

Out of all the channels used to reach your target audience, email is the most sensitive.  No one likes to wade through dozens of “junk” emails, so the best way to make it count is to make it relevant.  The type of “surprise and delight” that real-time inbox provides, such as that mentioned above, keeps customers engaged because it is timely, meaningful, and personal. More importantly though, it’s of interest to them and relevant based on where they are.

By delivering messages in this manner, the company is essentially having a one-to-one conversation with each of their customers, rather than simply sharing content in a “one size fits all” approach. The more receptive the target consumer is to the email, the more likely he or she is to open it, and it’s a win-win situation for both — no one gets annoyed or blacklisted.

Start The New Year Right

Whether you’re a retailer, a travel agent, a small business, sports franchise or B2B enterprise, I encourage you to test out real-time inbox with existing and prospective customers. You may pleasantly surprise yourself at the real-time feedback you receive!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | E-Commerce | Email Marketing | Email Marketing Column | Mobile Marketing


About The Author: is Director of Deliverability for Adobe, where she's responsible for leading the deliverability function for the company’s North American client base, including reputation management strategies and services, and deliverability operations.

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  • http://emailblog.eu Remy Bergsma

    The trouble with the real-time inbox is that GMail has already disabled the option for marketers when they turned on image caching back in early December. Geo-location based email content is not possible anymore, because of the fact that all ‘opens’ happen in Mountain View, California (where Google’s servers are). Also, other timed content like countdowns, supply information and such aren’t possible either because of the cached images.

    For many marketers, the real-time inbox might be a step too far, for now. Either by data or features not being available, or simple time to implement such campaigns. One step forward would be to at least to send relevant email though, using segmented lists: I agree with the ‘one size fits all’ approach becoming really, really old by now. Engagement and revenue will be up, and when that happens, maybe the real-time inbox could be the next step (except for Gmail users, sadly).

  • http://www.martinworldwide.net/ Martin Worldwide

    The result is a relevant message that your customer is more likely to
    engage with and that’s easy to implement with automated campaigns.


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