Recently we have seen more and more brands embracing real-time marketing and taking advantage of advertising tends. In this article we’re going to cover what is real-time marketing, what are the challenges and how it is used.

What is real-time marketing?

Real-time marketing (RTM) is the ability for brands to engage with their customers based on real-time information, such as their behaviour and actions on a website, changes to their data, or even external news and breaking events. The latter is most notably seen on social media platforms such as Twitter, with brands like Oreo in particular enhancing its online persona through real-time marketing activities.

This strategy sees brands not only focusing on a fixed marketing strategy that adheres to a strict schedule, but a strategy that is more flexible, focused on breaking news, relevant trends and immediate customer feedback.

Brafton suggests some of the various types of real-time marketing brands are currently undertaking:

  • Triggered emails (emails that send when users take a specific action)
  • Social media engagement (customer service responses)
  • Coverage for breaking social media events (think #thedress)
  • Live event promotion (tradeshow or conference coverage)
  • Location-based deals (deals that appear when a user is at a specific location)

Wayin recently undertook a study of 200 marketing professionals currently engaging in real-time marketing activities in order to ‘drive home the understanding that effective real-time marketing cannot consist of a string of sporadic actions. Instead it requires a carefully planned strategy with the resources to discover the right trends, audiences and content and target them with meaningful marketing experiences at the right time.’

See below the current real-time activities that these marketing professionals are currently investing in and to what degree:


Real-time marketing budgets are on the rise

Each brand may have a different set of goals and objectives that they hope to achieve through their real-time marketing activities. Wayin’s study also focused on the reasons why brands invest in RTM, as shown below.


As the table above demonstrates, the most popular objective of engaging in real-time marketing is not about selling products or services directly to the consumer, but to try and form meaningful relationships with customers.

One of the main headlines to come out of the Wayin study was that 59% of the surveyed marketers plan to increase their budgets for real-time marketing activities in the next year, with 66% of the marketers indicating that they plan to increase the social media budget, with it being the prioritised marketing channel for their real-time activities.

Challenges of real-time marketing

There are numerous obstacles brands have to face when undertaking real-time marketing activities, with managing their use of customer data a major hurdle to overcome.

With customers more open to providing personal information online, the pressure is on for brands to provide a more personalised experience, with customers no longer wanting to just be served standardised marketing messages, but advertising that is related to past shopping experiences and habits across all customer touchpoints. A study by Janrain discovered that customers have a tendency to lose interest when presented with content that isn’t relevant to them. Therefore customer data collection used to create personalised experience is crucial to the success of real-time-marketing activities.

Stop Gap suggests that location-based marketing is expected to advance from this year onwards, as more and more smartphone users use beacons and apps, and become increasingly comfortable about sharing their location and personal information. Not only will this help brands gather huge volumes of data, but it will create a more enjoyable shopping experience for the customer.

Wayin’s recent study investigated the challenges brands face in real-time marketing via social media, with the majority of marketers citing limited budget and lack of flexibility by staff to react quickly enough as the top two challenges they face.


Great examples of real-time marketing


One company that effectively used its data to provide real-time marketing is Google, who performed a RTM promotion during the 2015 Oscars. The objective of the campaign was to promote the brand’s Google Play platform, by providing links to users who could then purchase the winning movie’s moments after the winner had been announced.

Google had launched a similar campaign previously with Nike for the 2014 World Cup, however this was the first time the search engine giant used data to promote its own product. The campaign was based on past search trends with data showing users would look up stars or movies during previous awards shows, with interest in the winners only lasting about 15 minutes.

After each major award was announced, Google Play served a customised congratulatory ad, and within 15 minutes it was on to the next real-time ad for the next winner.

The ever increasing nature of multi screening during television shows is what makes a campaign such as this possible, as well as opening up endless advertising possibilities for brands.

Social Media

Real-time marketing via social media can vary, from answering customer queries to promoting the brand via an external event, such as the Royal Baby or the 2013 Super Bowl blackout. These are two examples of external events that require two different approaches to real-time marketing. The Royal Baby is an event that can be planned for in plenty of time, but can be published on the actual day of the birth, giving the impression of real-time marketing.

The infamous 2013 third quarter Super Bowl blackout did more for the Oreo brand, than the television advert the brand paid a substantial amount of money to run during the game did in terms of brand awareness. By jumping onto a spontaneous external event with a clever promotion that was still in-keeping with the brand tone of voice, Oreo gained a vast amount of publicity the brand would not have taken into account prior to the event.

The strong social media team of 15 at Oreo had planned differing tweets depending on the eventual winner of the Super Bowl, which falls into the same category as the Royal Baby, as an event that can be planned for in advance with a carefully planned message. But by assembling a creative team including the brand’s digital agency to all watch the game together, presented the opportunity to put a creative together, get sign off and enjoy the public reaction flooding in with relative ease.

Not all brands are as creative and savvy when it comes to executing real-time marketing via social media, even when they have the opportunity to plan for it, as Econsultancy’s blog post on real-time marketing social media fails demonstrates.

Planning ahead on social media

Twitter has recently announced that it is working on an event targeting feature to enable brands to be able to plan ahead for real-time marketing events, such as Mother’s Day or the Super Bowl. The social media giant will also provide brands with valuable insights on the chosen events based on the previous years’ audience behaviours, to allow for effective and targeted campaigns to be created.

Twitter is providing brands with a calendar that will “highlight major sports games, musical festivals, holidays, and other significant events happening in the US, UK, France, Brazil, and Japan”.

Advertisers will also have the option to filter by metrics such as location, date, and type of event so that brands can only target events that are aligned with their marketing strategy.

This platform, available to brands through Twitter, demonstrates the increasing nature of real-time marketing, and the value brands are placing on ensuring they are not missing out on the always expanding real-time market.

With focus being placed on building customer relationships and understanding the forever evolving customer expectations, it is becoming more and more important that brands recognise that real-time marketing is becoming a more valuable marketing channel that cannot afford to be

ignored. Now is a perfect time to take advantage of real-time marketing in order to spark and engage in conversations, which will lead to relationship building and deeper brand loyalty.

By Paul Jasper, Fast Web Media

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