Trend Watch: Real-Time Marketing

Garrett Mann
Garrett Mann

Director, Content Marketing

Although not a new buzzword by any means, I have been hearing a lot about real-time marketing lately – mainly on the heels of the data analytics and intelligence boom in the marketing world – so I thought I would shed some light on this trend for the audience.

Difference of opinion on real-time marketing

From what I can see, there are 3 main schools of thought on what the definition of real-time marketing is:

1. Newsjacking

Newsjacking is a term made popular by marketing strategist and guru David Meerman Scott as well as the title of a best-selling book he authored on the subject. It is essentially a short-term tactic that involves piggybacking off of current events to create buzz and press-worthy attention for your brand or solutions. If you are lucky, the activity you create by injecting your brand into the current event outlasts the event itself and creates ongoing positive association for your company or product offerings. To give you context for how this works, look no further than this year’s NFL Playoffs:

During a January 12 playoff game, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning could be heard audibly using the word “Omaha” as part of his snap count 44 separate times during the game. What may have seemed like an interesting and humorous addition to the game for most viewers, it represented a tremendous real-time marketing opportunity for the folks responsible for Tourism for the City of Omaha, Nebraska. Before the game was over, they put out a tweet that has since gone on to be retweeted over 4,300 times:

real-time marketing omaha tourism







Now, the hoopla was pretty much over by the time the Super Bowl came around, but the moral of the story is that even in a short time, you can build tremendous brand equity by being opportunistic with real-time marketing (newsjacking).

Newsjacking can also be used to strategically steer the conversation your way at the expense of your competitors. See this example (from the B2B world) about how storage vendor Actifio did just that by “welcoming” EMC to their market via this post from Actifio’s CEO and using it as an opportunity to validate their own first-mover status as a Copy Data Management leader and get some free press for their brand at the same time.

Now let’s get on to the second definition of real-time marketing:

2. Using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time

This definition of real-time marketing, by way of leading social strategist Zena Weist, outlines how brands must have a documented process and framework in place in order to be responsive to real-time marketing opportunities. These opportunities don’t just come from “newsjacking”, but from using data analytics and intelligence to read and respond to shifting needs of your audience in real-time. Having a process sets you up to be nimble enough to respond quickly and to be prepared to shift your messaging as needed – without a process, arguably it cannot be real-time marketing.

In the absence of a point-in-time event to center an outbound campaign around, real-time marketing is almost exclusively an inbound marketing strategy. But unlike many inbound efforts driven by scenario building and set automated nurturing streams, real-time marketing relies on a tremendous amount of intelligence, highly sophisticated measurement, and more importantly, a human element, to make the right decisions on the fly. To top it all off, content and messaging need to be delivered with a high degree of personalization…   

3. Dynamic content personalization across marketing channels

Marketers may differ on the definition of real-time marketing, but many seem to agree that personalization is a key driver of any effort in this area as evidenced by this recent Direct Marketing Association study:

Do marketers  have the tools to take advantage of real-time marketing?

If real-time marketing sounds confusing or overly-complicated to you, you are not alone in your thinking. While it may be bringing great success to those currently doing it, the truth of the matter is that 75% of marketers say their organizations have limited or no capability to design customer experiences that take advantage of real-time responses .

While it may be hard for organizations to achieve true real-time marketing, there are plenty of ways to leverage the tools you do have in place to deliver good user experiences for prospects and customers at any time:

  • Any intelligence is good intelligence – Whether delivering real-time responses or developing content based on long-term trends, mine all your data streams (inside and outside your own ecosystem) to look for strong engagement opportunities.
  • Monitor and engage through social media – The next opportunity to connect with potential customers could be right around the corner, but you may miss the chance if you are not listening. And as you saw in some of my earlier examples, there is no more immediate marketing vehicle in which to communicate than social media channels.
  • Be flexible – Being prepared to act on what you learn and open to adjusting marketing and customer engagement strategies based on intelligence can be essential for creating competitive advantage for your brand.

I am definitely interested in hearing more from you on this subject, so feel free to leave a comment or you can connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

This is an installment of the Friday “Trend Watch”  column that will appear in this blog on a regular basis, featuring marketing trends highlighted by several outside resources from industry experts, bloggers, and outlets from around the web to help marketers stay better informed. 

brand identity, branding, customer intelligence, data analytics, newsjacking, real-time intelligence, real-time marketing, social listening, social media, Trend Watch, Twitter

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