4 Keys to Improve Your Real-Time Marketing

Companies have long tried to build strong customer relationships through marketing programs. The challenge is that the playing field keeps changing — trends shift, new technologies emerge, and customers change, becoming more demanding. Companies…

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4 Keys to Improve Your Real-Time Marketing

Companies have long tried to build strong customer relationships through marketing programs. The challenge is that the playing field keeps changing — trends shift, new technologies emerge, and customers change, becoming more demanding. Companies today feel the need for real-time marketing enabled by real-time listening.

In fact, the pace of change in modern marketing, and speed at which customers are moving, are so turbo-charged that marketing pros don’t stand a chance if they’re using outdated platforms to run old-style marketing campaigns. More than 90 percent of consumers have discontinued communications with a company because they received irrelevant messages and promotions.

Real-time marketing

It may seem like a brand new marketing phenomenon, but is really only the case in its current media defined definition. The first burst of discussion for the term “real-time marketing” happened at the beginning of 2005. Nowadays, the definition of “real-time marketing” seems be similar across the board amongst the major marketing media outlets, big brands, and agencies that serve both.

In short, they portray real-time marketing as the practice of brands engaging their audience via content, advertising, and product placement that is relevant to a specific current event or cultural happening. The content is most often in the form of a “meme” or graphic advertisement shared through social media channels.

But what are the key practices to keep your marketing real-time? Here are few tips on how brands can accelerate their real-time marketing efforts:

  1. Use Social Media To Build Authentic Outbound Stories

Small or large, brands aren’t using those stories, opinions, comments, etc., outside of their social streams. In many cases, the social team and the direct marketing team don’t even communicate or plan together.

There are two components involved in addressing this challenge: attitude and aptitude:

First, businesses need to learn to be more authentic. You cannot do real-time marketing if every piece of content has to go through a “sterilization committee.” If you want to grow, you have to let go, and become comfortable with authentic, fan-driven content and interactions. One thing we know about the web, is that people crave authentic experiences and quickly see through smoke and mirrors. Face it, people trust other people more than brands.

Within minutes of the bill legalizing gay marriage passing in the UK, Virgin Holidays tweeted this image and posted it to their Facebook and Google+ Pages:

virgin holidays ad

Not every brand can celebrate legalized gay marriage in social channels and have it come across as an authentic, relevant message. However, Virgin knows their audience, they offer honeymoon vacations and therefore the message itself is relevant, and founder Richard Branson is an outspoken gay marriage supporter. They used the #equalmarriage hashtag to expand their reach and were rewarded with 265 retweets from their community.

Secondly, businesses need to invest in the capabilities to listen to content, curate content, and syndicate that content into un-siloed direct messaging and push-based messaging and incentives. They must invite customers to become participants in content rather than just bystanders. Social digests, remix contests, “insiders’ clubs,” and automated content alerts are just a few examples of how content can be extended into real-time marketing.

Good example: Dreamfields Pasta identifies the consumers who are most engaged in its content across social and newsletters and invites them to join its “Taste & Tell Team,” a special program that encourages Dreamfields’ most passionate customers to share their own experiences, recommendations, recipes, and stories — both offline and online. Dreamfields has to put its whole message and brand, untethered, into the hands of its consumers — trusting that with a little extra love and the chance to participate, these people will share the brand’s message. The result? Every year, Dreamfields’ fans activate more than 130,000 of their friends to try Dreamfields’ products themselves.

  1. Use Content As A Data Point

Real-time marketing without relevancy is like receiving a package in the mail addressed to your neighbor. The mind immediately says, “I don’t need it. It doesn’t belong to me.” For every piece of quality content, there is a relevant demographic or persona to match. Therefore, it is important that marketers view content as data, and align both the right channel and the right content item (picture, post, topic) to the right person.

For example, real-time images from Instagram might not be the right fit if your brand targets folks over 50 — YouTube videos or blog alerts are far more digestible for this older demographic. Instagram or Twitter alerts for Miley Cyrus fans? That’s an obvious match, as is Pinterest digests for women and children.

  1. Kiss (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Data is a fire hose, and it’s very common for brands to want to capture consumer data based on “ideal” segmentation and analysis scenarios. Truth be told, data is easy to capture and store, but using it in smart, efficient ways is still a major challenge to organizations. Consumer data can be overwhelming, or it can already be outdated by the time it’s captured, sorted, analyzed, and utilized. It’s best to keep marketing simple by focusing on the basics, like age, gender, location, interest, and persona. Brands can make massive leaps with even the most basic profile targeting by allowing for nimble changes and keeping campaign development out of “analysis paralysis.”

Good example: One brand that does a great job of delivering relevant content to its email subscribers is Major League Soccer (MLS). Connecting with local fan bases, engaging new fans, and driving national ratings for live-game broadcasts remain among MLS’s top priorities. MLS delivers personalized content on a weekly basis to its fans via email — with content such as video highlights of the previous week’s matches, photos of star players and broadcast schedules — using only two data points: location and favorite team.

  1. Above All Else, Be Entertaining

Oreo’s infamous Superbowl tweet. They showed just how effective social listening is, when their “You can still dunk in the dark” branded image was retweeted over 16,000 times.

Oreo ad

As the story goes, Oreo had already decided to use Superbowl as the platform from which to launch a new campaign; they had no idea what the game would throw their way and certainly couldn’t have predicted a blackout. Yet with their internal teams and agency at the ready, they were able to respond to the Superbowl blackout almost instantly. As a result, the brand gained over 8,000 new followers in the days following Superbowl.


So what’s the takeaway here? If you know even the most basic information about your customers, such as their email addresses, locations, and personal interests, you can give them relevant content in which they will engage — and find of useful value. Stay tuned for next week’s topic: How to Design a Good Banner!

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