Real-Time Data

Today’s Customers Expect Real-Time Personalization—Can You Deliver?

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Dec 6, 2022

The rise of mobile and the shift toward digital experiences has taken real-time personalization from a nice-to-have to an essential marketing strategy, putting pressure on brands to keep up. At our annual customer engagement conference, FORGE 2022, we connected with experts from Meetup, VSCO, and Storyly to get their take on how marketers can serve up personalized customer experiences in the moment to drive stronger relationships.

3 Best Practices for Real-Time Personalization

#1: Know when real-time outreach matters (and when it doesn’t)

Certain marketing outreach, such as transactional messaging—notifications about subscription confirmations, cancellations, billing issues, and likes or reposts of content—should be sent in the moment.

“Marketing messaging can be sent asynchronously but there are times when timeliness is still important,” according to Nisha Mehta, Senior Manager, Lifecycle Marketing at VSCO. This includes sending an in-app upsell after a user completes a specific action.

Knowing when something is urgent or time sensitive takes empathy. It’s up to marketers to ensure that recipients receive communications that are important right away while also making sure that sending a given notification won’t be simply another disruption in a customer’s day.

“An example of good timeliness: A member joins a Meetup group, and an event gets announced or a discussion is happening in the lead up to that event about where to meet at the destination,” explained Brian Munn, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Meetup. These are the types of messages that are core to why someone has joined a Meetup in the first place, he adds.

Marketing campaigns that should be sent in real time happen during specific moments. “These are the moments that mobile users turn to their devices with an intent to learn something, to buy something, to watch something,” explained Daniele Di Nunzio, VP of Sales at Storyly. These are times that users want to do something—right in the moment.

“If brands want to be relevant, they have to satisfy the user’s desire right there and via the channel they prefer,” Daniele added.

#2: Leverage cross-channel messaging

Both Meetup and VSCO utilize a cross-channel approach to send the right messages via the right channels at the right time.

Munn looks at all of his customer touchpoints and determines which channels—among push, email, and in-app—makes the most sense for engaging with a given customer during a specific moment within their customer lifecycle.

For more time-sensitive messaging, for example, both Meetup and VSCO send users push notifications, whereas for messages related to user onboarding and education, email is often a better fit.

#3: Get the data you need to personalize experiences

To power VSCO’s real-time personalized messaging campaigns, the brand taps user actions (events) and user properties or attributes to guide user segmentation and to trigger the appropriate campaigns.

The best way to send contextually relevant campaigns is to start investing in zero-party data, also known as earned data, a term Forrester has coined to describe data that customers knowingly and intentionally share with brands to improve their experiences, says Daniele. To get this kind of data, he recommends asking customers questions about their interests and lifestyles, including asking about what types of campaigns and campaign content they’d prefer to receive from your brand.

Meetup attributes their success in sending multilingual marketing campaigns powered by real-time personalization to users all over the globe to a cross-collaboration between the company’s marketing, data, engineering, and product teams working together to ensure the brand can access and act on the right data.

Final Thoughts

Want to advance your marketing efforts to deliver tailored messaging at the individual level as your business grows? Check out our guide Under the Hood: Delivering Personalized Messages for Every User at Scale to find out how to build the right tech stack to support real-time personalization.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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