Few things are more cliché than the admonition to “get the right message to the right audience at the right time.”

But maybe there’s a reason the phrase is overused and ineffective.

Frankly, it’s hard to get right — especially in a multi-channel world where time has all but lost its meaning.

To successfully engage today’s consumers in their time, you have to have a deep understanding of the customer lifecycle. It’s the best way to navigate always-shifting signals of wants, needs, and demands, as well as to identify opportunities.

Bain & Company just conducted new research on message timing in partnership with Google. It found understanding key moments in the customer lifecycle helps marketers spot signals and send an appropriate sequence of messages.

Understanding the ‘Right Time’

The proliferation of digital channels and options for consumers today heightens the importance of message timing. As the Bain study suggests, the ubiquity of mobile devices and number of digital touchpoints give consumers unparalleled access, choices, and buying power.

“To strengthen customer relationships, marketers need to know not only which current or prospective customers to reach, but also in which moments. By communicating at the most opportune times based on people’s behavior and signals, companies can generate more business with fewer or more efficient ads, or expand the audience to find unexpected wins,” the research concludes.

Bain surveyed nearly 1,700 marketers globally, at large firms in both consumer and business-to-business industries. The objective was to understand the value they have gained from data and technology investments.

It found marketing leaders — the top 20 percent based on revenue and market share growth — understand which customers to reach and what to say. And they also know the importance of connecting with customers at the right moments, and how technology can help.

But tapping the right time is tricky, and the majority of marketers are still behind the curve.

The right time to send marketing messages

Meet Customers ‘In Their Time’

Bain Partner Laura Beaudin leads the firm’s global marketing excellence practice and also led the joint study with Google. She stressed, “It’s no longer sufficient to just know who the customer is. We’re entering an era where being relevant to those customers means building strategies around timely marketing to ensure you’re reaching them when they’re ready to engage.”

The right time means knowing when your audience is most receptive. It means identifying “those moments when you can really capture someone’s attention or change their mind, and then meeting them there with the right message,” she added.

Look for marketing signals “that indicate people are at the right moment in life, or when audiences are telling them that they are open to a message ― through search terms, through browsing behavior, and through engagement.”

As marketing strategist Robert Rose puts it, “Instead of focusing on the ‘right message, to the right person, at the right time,’ successful content marketers are creating ‘the right value, to the right audience, in their time.'”

In other words, engage your audience at useful moments and create a relevant dialogue with them rather than at them.

Time Passages

We no longer “go online.” We live online — always on, always connected. We’re fast approaching the post-digital era, where digital technologies will be “a vast, quiet element forming the seamless backbone of life. The internet will be a background utility, noticeable only in its absence …”

In this new world, “our sense of reality, of time and place, will be the most complex for us to understand.”

For marketers, that shift is already apparent. Customers are already bombarded by marketing and advertising messages, Bain notes. So “it’s essential to bend time to serve a more efficient and effective approach.”

“Companies that take more control of their marketing and advertising data and technology will be able to respond quickly to a customer’s zigs and zags and send a tailored message at precisely the right moment. That raises the odds of seizing attention for the immediate purchase and building brand equity in the longer run.”

The right technology can help marketers create a more coherent view of the customer. It also helps them match the message to the right moment, the research suggests.

“We’re coming back to a healthy balance of math and magic. With help from technology, leaders can focus more on the creative they deliver at each moment and make sure it’s relevant and tailored for each audience. And automation is giving back to marketers the extra time they need to spend on consumer insights and creative topics and to refine their message for today’s specific moments and opportunities,” Beaudin said.

For More Information

Arke can help your company align its technology for better brand experience. Email Chris Spears or Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.