Real time marketing (RTM) is where information is reported instantaneously for marketers to make decisions based on what’s happening at the time. As opposed to making a marketing plan in advance and applying it on schedule, RTM is where a strategy is created that focuses on current and immediate responses from customers. RTM is a way for brands to interact with their customers using stuff that’s actually happening at that time. It can be based on a customer’s actions online, changes to their information or even just external and breaking news. Twitter seems to be the weapon of choice for real time marketers using breaking news to push content, with brands like Oreo regularly capitalising on the news of the world. In the 2013 Super Bowl blackout Oreo tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” and received nearly 15,000 retweets on Twitter, and 20,000 likes on Facebook.

But RTM can be seen in a number of formats. When responding to online behaviour, it could be an email trigger that a customer sets off by visiting a particular page. Social media allows for immediate customer service responses, or coverage of breaking news and social media events (like any viral craze on Twitter). With Facebook up to 1.86 billion monthly active users, each with the ability to use RTM with Facebook Live, it’s clear that people and brands will be introduced more to the power of reacting to events as they happen. RTM can also be used for live event promotion – posting updates on stocks, sales and all kinds of other information – and location based deals, that trigger deals when the customer is at a certain location. For example, Dr Pepper’s Geo-Based Thirst Quench campaign used location to create a relevant content plan. Working with programmatic platform Rocket Fuel and in-store attribution specialist Placed, Dr Pepper was able to deliver location targeted adverts to over 1,000 grocers. The data showed that these adverts helped to put Dr Pepper into around 25,000 new households.

But what are the benefits of using real time marketing?

  1. It supports the sense of urgency. RTM incentivises people to engage with your brand, offering limited stock, deadlines for sales and promo codes means that there’s a need to get involved with your brand fast. This kind of urgency motivates people, if they don’t act fast they might miss the deal, or the product might be out of stock and that means that they’re going to want to act fast. You could try this out by tweeting how many sale items or hours are left in the sale. And this helps businesses because customers have to act quickly.
  2. It diversifies your content. Content should be varied, different people want to see different things – and so to appeal to the widest audience you need to provide a range of good content. While blogs can be longer and show your expertise, sometimes your customers don’t need that. Sometimes they just need little bites of content, provided to them by the brands they believe in. RTM is designed to inform your audience of what’s happening at that moment. It doesn’t need lots of detail, it just needs to be digestible and memorable to the audience. And despite lacking in detail, these bite sized content pieces will be immediate and frequent, helping to ensure constant customer engagement.
  3. RTM can also increase audience engagement. With 76% of brands claiming that using RTM increased the engagement with their customers. Looks like real time marketing really can bring customers and companies closer together. With brands producing relevant content that’s related to what’s going on in the real world they’re more likely to produce a message that resonates with the customer. But RTM doesn’t just drive engagement, it can increase customer satisfaction and positive brand sentiment, as reported by 56% of brands.
  4. More than just engagement, RTM produces real tangible success. 25% of brands believe that using RTM improves conversion rates and ROI. With customers getting a more relevant and authentic message it’s more likely that they’ll feel connected with your brand, and from this trust customers will feel more comfortable making purchases. It can also help improve brand efficiency. Social media strategy can take up lots of time and resources, but RTM allows for quick and relevant content to be created without the resource intensive method. The content is created for brands, they’re task is to adapt and deliver it – removing the need for lots of content creation and planning. All this means that RTM has been found to improve efficiency in brands by up to 44%.
  5. To identify brand advocates. RTM allows businesses to identify customers that could become influential brand advocates. These individuals have powerful voices amongst your customers, and have the potential to influence the opinions of a lot of your target audience. Using real time data lets brands see who is engaging with your content the most, or who has the most engaged followings on social media. Once these people have been identified, they can be targeted with personalised content and individual offerings – in order to build a brand advocate.

Where Do I Start With RTM?

Be on time
RTM, as the name would suggest, is dependent on your ability to respond to events on time. Being slow to the news means that by the time you’ve reported it, it may already be irrelevant. For example, in the 2015 Super Bowl Beyonce mentioned Red Lobster. An opportunity for RTM that Red Lobster passed on, by replying 8 hours later, by which time the tweet was greeted with nothing but criticism for being too slow. So when using RTM make sure you are reacting to it in real time.

No one can predict what’s going to happen next, even pollsters failed to predict Brexit and Trump (thanks a lot). So with RTM you need to have a strategy with enough flexibility to deal with any eventuality that may occur.

Stay relevant
When brands report on events and news it’s tempting for them to push their agenda too much. RTM is still a way for users to learn about the business in an authentic way, a far more transparent relationship between customer and company than the typical method. So in order to keep this kind of relationship brands need to be able to focus on what is relevant to their customers and keep delivering a personal message, tailored to the target audience.