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What Is Real-Time Marketing? Take Advantage of the Here and Now

September 22, 2021

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Take a moment to think about some things you can do in 60 seconds. 

Maybe you can drink a glass of water, change the channel, or even make your bed. Either way, 60 seconds is not that much time if you’re looking to cross those stubborn items off your to-do list. But on the internet, a lot can happen in those 60 seconds

Researchers discovered that in a single minute, Instagram users post nearly 350,000 stories, Facebook users upload 147,000 photos, YouTube users upload 500 hours of video, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Considering the abundance of content on the internet, producing marketing messages that effectively cut through the noise is challenging. However, if you can listen to your customers and create relevant messages around current events, you can also create content that truly resonates with your audience’s wants and needs.

What is real-time marketing?

Whether it’s through a playful TikTok that showcases your products or a well-prepared industry webinar featuring C-level executives, there are many ways to connect with your customers and get your marketing messages across in today’s day and age. However, as media continues to evolve and users become desensitized to the ample amount of marketing content on their daily feed, you need to develop your strategies and create content that sticks. Queue real-time marketing.

As the name suggests, real-time marketing means reacting in real time and creating relevant messaging through your company’s social media channels. It also requires you to actively engage in social listening to uncover customer data and identify updates regarding your brand, competitors, or industry as a whole.

Around since the mid-1990s, real-time marketing has become popularized during the launch of social media as businesses gained increased access to immediate customer insights. And like any other popular marketing strategy, real-time marketing has since grown and evolved alongside its environment.

With artificial intelligence technologies and social listening tools, marketers can uncover qualitative data about their customers at a quantitative scale. As a result, brands have leveraged the more meaningful data to deepen their engagement with their audiences while building longer-lasting relationships.

Real-time marketing vs. social media marketing 

Let’s discuss the similarities and differences between these two commonly confused terms. 

Differences

One of the primary differences between real-time and social media marketing is the speed at which marketers produce content. As previously aforementioned, real-time marketing occurs in minutes rather than days or even weeks. A social media marketing campaign is a coordinated marketing effort that can require a week's worth of preparation.

It may need you to set SMART goals, research your competition and state of the industry, and undergo multiple variations before you decide on the final material that’s published. Regardless, a social media marketing campaign may require a significant amount of time and effort to execute effectively. 

On the contrary, real-time marketing may require you to identify a recent mention of your brand on a social channel, like Instagram, and swiftly respond to that user with a relevant message. Additionally, unlike social media marketing, real-time marketing is not limited to social media channels.

While social media channels have provided another platform for real-time marketing to occur, this marketing strategy can occur through other channels such as emails by way of promotional codes or limited-time offers.

Similarities

While real-time and social media marketing reserve their differences, they also share many similarities. Like every form of marketing strategy, real-time and social media marketing share comparable business objectives. These include raising brand awareness, increasing sales, and building online communities that position the brand as a thought-leader. 

Moreover, both marketing strategies are data-driven techniques that generate actionable insights that you can use to make profitable business decisions. With the emergence and use of more data, you can leverage your access to these rich insights to inform your strategy that far surpasses your business goals.

Lastly, both real-time and social media marketing implement similar tools and technologies that enable you to listen to your customers, publish content, analyze performance and drive engagement.

How does real-time marketing benefit businesses? 

One of the beauties of real-time marketing is that it doesn't require extensive technology or planning to achieve your business goals. If executed successfully, real-time marketing can serve as a great technique to grow your business quickly and efficiently.

Real-time marketing can grow your business by increasing your brand's online engagement, diversifying your content, and driving the bottom-line, all while distinguishing your brand from your competitors. 

Increasing customer engagement

Not only is it vital that you keep your employees engaged, but also your customers. In a research study, marketers found that nearly 76% of brands have claimed that real-time social interaction has increased their audience engagement.

Great brands put their customers first. Since real-time marketing can occur at any given moment, you have the opportunity to interact with your audience consistently. As a result, you are increasing your customer engagement and strengthening your customer relationships. 

For example, you can react playfully to recent comments on your latest Facebook post or even answer customer product questions on your Instagram story. Listening to your customer and responding to them in real time shows that your brand cares about your customers and fosters a great customer experience. However you choose to engage with your customers, you will personalize your brand over time into one that customers can trust and purchase from.

Driving sales

We all know that the internet is fast-paced, and our attention spans are not following suit. The human attention span is narrowing as research has shown that the average person’s attention span is roughly only eight seconds. Not only is competing for your customer’s attention fierce, but marketers today have to battle through unpredictable sales cycles mixed with a recovering economic climate. With real-time marketing through channels such as email, you can create messages that fully engage your audience and drive action. 

Geographic data enables you to identify where your customers are located to create real-time messaging relevant to their surrounding environment. For example, a rideshare company can make unique promotional offers for customers celebrating holidays in major cities such as New Year’s Eve in NYC. Or you can collect demographic data of your customers and offer personalized sales promotions based on their age or gender identity. 

Whichever data you decide to collect and leverage, engaging with your customers through real-time marketing allows you to deliver individualized solutions to your customer when they need it most. As a result, you’ll improve your customer conversion rate and motivate your customers to take action.

Diversifying your content

Creating diverse content reveals many unique opportunities to connect with your target audience. Content diversification also allows you to reach and engage with untapped target audiences. Unfortunately, many marketers limit their content to a set amount of channels and content types, hindering their ability to grow their audience and brand awareness. However, by employing real-time marketing techniques in your strategy, you’ll also be able to diversify your content and reap the benefits of doing so.

Seeing that real-time marketing is the act of reacting to what’s actively occurring in your brand's ecosystem, real-time marketing encourages you to create various content pieces that relate to your customers best at that point in time. And since your customer’s sentiment, industry and brand are constantly changing, you can expect your content to evolve alongside it. 

As a result, the different types of content can attract new customers and allow you to engage with new markets. These new markets will also provide you with new actionable insights that you wouldn't have had otherwise, unlocking whitespace opportunities to develop your content, product, or service as well as your overall brand.

Real-time marketing examples 

Now that we learned that real-time marketing is a powerful strategy that can achieve business objectives let's look at some companies leveraging real-time marketing successfully.

Oreo: “You can still dunk in the dark” campaign 

During the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII, OREO seized the spotlight by taking advantage of the massive power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once the lights went out, the OREO team recognized an opportunity to capture the undivided attention of millions of Super Bowl fans. 

They posted a tweet paired with a graphic nearly 10 minutes after the stadium shutdown that reads: 

 

As a result, the tweet quickly went viral and generated nearly 14,000 retweets, 7,000 likes, and 1,000 comments. According to Huffington Post, the witty tweet was well received by fans and recognized as one of the most buzzworthy ads of that Super Bowl Sunday. 

By way of a real-time and straightforward reaction to surrounding circumstances, the OREO team leveraged a rare yet monumental moment at one of the most-watched events in American history to get their brand in front of millions. 

NASA responds to #BroomStickChallenge

Among the many challenges to sweep the internet, the #BroomStickChallenge led thousands to believe that Monday, February 10, 2020, was the only day your broom can stand on its own, falsely attributing the phenomenon to research conducted by NASA. 

The challenge originated from a video tweet that reads: 

 

Although there was no direct evidence that NASA suggested this phenomenon, the challenge captured the attention of thousands, accumulating more than 260,000 likes and over 60,000 shares.

It wasn’t until NASA finally debunked the myth with a video tweet featuring astronaut Alvin Drew and scientist Sarah Noble that reveals that “basic physics works every day of the year – not just February 10th.”

Since then, NASA’s tweet accumulated nearly 20,000 shares and 50,000 likes. 

 

The viral #BroomstickChallenge is another excellent example of a brand successfully reacting in real time. In this particular scenario, NASA recognized the buzz surrounding its brand and seized the opportunity to set the record straight with a playful response. NASA also used this opportunity as a public learning moment. 

They stated that “while this hoax was harmless, it also shows why it's important for all of us to do some fact-checking and research – including checking in with @NASA and NASA.gov for real science fun facts – before jumping into the latest viral craze.” 

Wendys: How many retweets for free nuggets? 

One of the most retweeted tweets in history was created by a Nevada teen who wanted free chicken nuggets: 

 

Shortly after Wilkerson sent his tweet, Wendy's responded with “18 Million” and inadvertently sparked one of the most viral moments in Twitter history. Soon after, Wilkerson’s tweet for free nuggets rallied the support from millions, collecting a record-breaking 3.2 million retweets and nearly 950,000 likes.

Although Wilkerson was short of his goal, Wendy's honored the challenge and rewarded Wilkerson with a year's supply of free nuggets.

One of the most important lessons we can learn from this historic tweet is the importance of real-time marketing and listening to your customers. A simple yet effective response to a Wendy’s chicken nugget enthusiast yielded weeks of national publicity for the brand. Likewise, the viral tweet also opened up an opportunity for other major brands to capitalize on the buzz. 

By paying attention to the surrounding community, tech giants such as Apple Music, Google, and Microsoft seized the opportunity to put their brand at the forefront of a viral tweet by sharing their support for Wilkerson. 

While not every tweet will go viral, this historic Wendy’s moment should serve as a guiding light for the importance of responding timely to your audience.

What software supports real-time marketing?

New tools are constantly entering the market and making it easier than ever to manage and guide your marketing efforts. By combining real-time marketing strategies with the latest technologies, you can begin delivering quality and effective marketing messages to your customers. Fortunately, the real-time marketing tools landscape is vast and offers a wide range of solutions to help you achieve your business goals and change your organization for the better. 

Customer analytics 

As we learn more about real-time marketing, we recognize the importance of developing a solid understanding of your customer’s wants and needs. While you can assume you know everything there is to know about your customers, employing customer analytics tools and software can help ensure that your customer insights are accurate and actionable. 

Customer analytics software allows you to understand how and where your customers are interacting with your business, who are your most profitable fans, as well as other critical pieces of data. These tools are also a great way to generate reports regarding your customers that you can later use to inform your real-time marketing strategies.

Social media management 

While real-time marketing is not restricted to social channels, we learned that it is an effective channel to communicate your marketing messages to your audience at scale. To ensure that you are managing your social media efforts effectively, utilizing social media management tools is a great way to maximize your social strategy’s full potential. 

These tools often provide you with everything your brand needs to succeed on social media, whether monitoring all customer interactions, uncovering the latest trends, or scheduling your content. Social media tools also provide you with access to rich data that you can use to enhance your social strategy while ensuring your content is resonating.

Competitive intelligence 

The internet is a crowded space, and creating content that cuts through the noise is highly competitive. As a marketer, you must identify opportunities to differentiate your content from competitors who are also vying for your audience’s attention. One way to start is by developing an understanding of what everyone else is doing.

Competitive intelligence tools provide you with a birds-eye view of your competitive landscape and enable you to examine information about your competitors' marketing strategies. 

As we saw in the “Wendy's: How many retweets for free nuggets?” tweet, leading brands recognized that their competitors were interacting with the viral content and leveraged that competitive intelligence as an opportunity to add their brand into the mix. Utilizing competitive intelligence tools to monitor your competitors’ social media activities allow you to identify opportunities to differentiate your business and enhance your real-time marketing strategy.

Conclusion

Real-time marketing is an integral part of a successful marketing strategy. We learned that listening to your customers and reacting to them in real-time with relevant messages can help you achieve your goals and grow your business. 

Whether it’s by reacting to a rare, historical power outage at the Super Bowl or challenging your customers to accumulate 18 million tweets to receive free nuggets for a year, real-time marketing is a great way to show that you listen and care about your customers.

_Learn-workplaceFlexibility_1
The time is now...

...for you to find the right social media management tools to help your brand get in on new real-time marketing initiatives as they happen.

_Learn-workplaceFlexibility_1
The time is now...

...for you to find the right social media management tools to help your brand get in on new real-time marketing initiatives as they happen.

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