Make Time for Just-in-Time Marketing

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Companies that practice just-in-time marketing are three times more likely to beat their peers in revenue growth, according to a study by global professional services company Accenture. The study also found that companies that implement just-in-time marketing experience a higher return on marketing dollars than their peers.

Just-in-time marketing is “focused on creating only marketing content that’s needed, when it’s needed, and attuning it to the needs of interested consumers exactly when they are in the buying mood,” the report said. This is contrasted with mass marketing strategies that are “focused on creating extensive content aimed at reaching the broadest possible audience.”

Of the companies that Accenture identified as just-in-time marketers, 38 percent have grown their annual revenue by more than 25 percent, compared to just 12 percent of their peers. Additionally, 82 percent of companies identified as just-in-time marketers reported large efforts to minimize marketing inefficiencies, compared to 49 percent of their peers.

The study also found that companies that engage in just-in-time marketing are ahead of their peers in other areas: 87 percent have employees with specialized analytical skills to develop actionable customer insights, compared to 67 percent of their peers. Fifty-eight percent described their digital and traditional marketing initiatives as “very highly integrated,” compared to 19 percent of their peers. Finally, 58 percent reported “complete independence” regarding IT investment decisions, compared to just 14 percent of their peers.

The study identifies three key ways that businesses can transform their marketing programs into a just-in-time model. First, organizations need to optimize operations by training employees to execute quickly, cutting turnaround time down to days or weeks instead of months. Businesses should also work to improve their governance structure, making sure to delineate exactly who is accountable for every decision.

“Optimizing operations is really about bringing the right technology tools together to apply smarter, faster, better thinking and marketing throughout the organization. The ways that you [do that] are to use analytics—deeper customer and marketing analytics, broad-based analytics…[and] looking at data throughout your organization that may not have seemed relevant in the past,” says Paul Nunes, managing director at Accenture.

Second, businesses should work on becoming effective listeners by monitoring social media for cues to take immediate action. They should also strive to become comfortable with using unstructured data to make decisions based on a combination of insight and instinct.

“What we mean [by becoming an effective listener] is that real-time, just-in-time marketing is really context-specific,” Nunes says. “You find the truth in what you need to do. You find your answers in a real-time fashion. It requires listening to the customer, listening to the context that they’re in. It requires less active push and intelligence-based push [and more] understanding the context.”

Finally, organizations need to solve for leading indicators instead of for the masses. They should base their analysis on individual interactions to find people who could be used to predict future norms.

“It’s [about] recognizing that quality marketing is really going to be based on marketing that’s just right for the individual consumer,” Nunes elaborates.

Ultimately, Nunes describes just-in-time marketing as moving from a push mentality to a pull mentality. “We have to be thinking about what does the customer need from us at the moment in time and how do we cost-effectively deliver that so that it results in a sale,” he says. 

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