In the Web world, early examples of JIT information were pop-ups and help windows designed to support a single experience, task or need. today it’s even Chatbots and AI driven interaction hubs. While the concept is easily understood, it is rarely done well — for several reasons. To summarize, the main issues with JIT for the Web are understanding the disparate “in-the-moment” needs of the consumer and how to facilitate this through content/information. In some cases, you can script it, in others it’s just the nature of humans to be unpredictable.
At its best, for marketing purposes, JIT information can make the difference between a purchase or a deferred decision.
Email and Mobile Marketing have become an extension of JIT Information. It’s not merely a fulfillment tool for research. Both channels are interactive with various values to a consumer (notification value, promotional value, information value and social value). We communicate, learn and share in-home, out-of-home and are perpetually connected.
As professionals, we know that triggered communications have a dramatic impact on conversion, convenience and brand impression. We also know that mapping messaging and timing to Web consumption behavior doubles the chance of getting the sale. We know that when consumers grasp something that is relevant, they are far more likely to share and be an advocate for the message, company, and brand. We know that people are increasingly using email to build and evolve their social networks. With the emergence of content recommendations and product recommendations that self-learn over time. The emergence of smart, automated chat bots guiding site level experiences and inbound support, this perfect journey and JIT information are at our fingertips.
We believe that the basis of the perfect email is mass customization. We can deliver discrete messages based on Web events, business events or time-based/lifecycle-triggered events. We can deliver dynamic content to each customer based on pre-defined information needs or market timing considerations. We can assess consumers’ behavior to better understand if and how response patterns support our hypothesis around timing and relevance. We can track this independently by consumer, segment or any behavioural trait we know about the consumer.
So, why is it important to talk about JIT and digital communications? METHODOLOGY. Email and Mobile messaging is often thought about as cause and effect. It is discussed by marketers through promotions and loyalty eye and rarely defined through the customer’s eyes or at a task-level view. We hope that by throwing a bunch of information out there, people will self-select and self-navigate. This makes sense based on adult learning theory, which posits that adults tend to want control over the pace and direction of content in a self-paced structure. But that assumes you are clear about the tasks, content and behavior change you are designing programs for, and have clear methods of evaluating this effect.
Choosing discrete tasks and functions you want to support and correlating the information needs, consumption paths and timing considerations will be the foundation of building worthwhile “experiences” in this “on-demand” world.
Building email and mobile programs that evolve through this type of logic will be the key to your success in the future. It may not be about the sale, it may be about supporting the information needs in a lead inquiry process, or compressing the consideration cycle, or being the conduit to a multichannel experience that ends at a pre-defined event (call center, sales center or e-commerce event).
JIT information and other user-centered information architecture approaches are rarely employed in the development of email or mobile campaigns. It is time to extend these methodologies from site development to email programs. We should embrace this view of information and the behavioral effects, or we’ll never make sense of an open rate or justify the value of a click-through rate.