Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.
Understanding real-time marketing
Real-time marketing is a form of marketing that occurs in real-time where brands market to customers in response to local, national, or worldwide events that may occur online or offline.
In essence, the brand endeavors to insert itself into conversations that are already occurring on social media and other channels to increase its exposure.
Real-time marketing started as a way for marketers to secure a slice of the ever-shortening consumer attention span which now sits at a mere 8 seconds.
The increasing frequency of news cycles has also meant that consumers are extremely desensitized to marketing messages.
With this in mind, it’s not difficult to appreciate how hard brands must work today to promote themselves and be remembered.
More recently, aspects of traditional B2C real-time marketing have been used in B2B contexts.
Some brands are building marketing campaigns around conferences and other live events that target attendees with text messages and so-called “live tweets”, while others are linking their products or services to industry trends and publications.
Real-time marketing best practices
Real-time marketing is a somewhat nuanced strategy that requires preparation and planning to the extent that it is possible to forecast events.
Here are three best practices a business should consider in any case:
- Use the appropriate tools – to stay abreast of the latest trends and current events, it is best to use listening tools such as Google Alerts at the very least. Businesses should also monitor the strategies of competitors and use open data platforms capable of collecting, merging, and taking action on data in real-time. The latter ensures the brand can instantly respond to customers via their preferred touchpoints.
- Understand customer preferences – real-time marketing, like any form of marketing, requires the business to understand the needs, wants, desires, and preferred communication channels of customers. Knowing where each is located in the customer journey also ensures that marketing messages are relevant, convenient, and inoffensive.
- Plan where possible – while there is no way of planning for unforeseen or unexpected events, there are some ways marketers can be prepared for the opportunity once it presents itself. The team should be made aware of posting guidelines and acceptable standards of customer engagement. An appropriate tone and voice should also be clarified. More predictable events such as sports matches or holidays can also be marked on a calendar as a reminder.
Real-time marketing examples
Here are a few ways real-time marketing has been used successfully by brands.
Oreo’s real-time marketing campaign in response to a power cut at Superbowl XLVII is one of the most popular examples of the strategy.
The game was halted for 34 minutes while technicians tried to restore power, which proved to be the perfect amount of time for Oreo to join the social media discussion around the event.
The company then posted a tweet that read “Power out? No problem.” which was accompanied by a simple photograph featuring an Oreo with the words “You can still dunk in the dark” across the bottom.
When an individual named Carter Wilkerson casually asked Wendy’s how many retweets he would need to secure for a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets, the company replied that the number was 18 million.
What started as a bit of fun earned the company significant public attention as the tweet went viral.
Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Apple joined in on the action and Wilkerson found himself interviewed on the Ellen show and briefly featured in a Katy Perry music video.
Wilkerson ultimately fell short of 18 million retweets, but Wendy’s admired his efforts and decided to award him $1000 worth of gift vouchers anyway. The company also donated $10,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in Wilkerson’s name.
While Wilkerson fell well short of his objective, the tweet was nevertheless shared almost 4 million times and became the most retweeted on the platform.
This earned Wendy’s an invaluable amount of (mostly) free exposure.
- Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.
- Aspects of B2C real-time marketing have been used in B2B contexts. Some brands are building marketing campaigns around conferences and other live events that target attendees with text messages and so-called “live tweets.
- Excellent examples of real-time marketing in action include Oreos, which capitalized on a power cut at Superbowl XLVII, and Wendy’s, which rode the wave of free publicity after challenging a Twitter user to come up with 18 million retweets in exchange for chicken nuggets.
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