Real-time marketing means reacting in real, or near-real time. It’s about relevant messaging, and it's achieved in social channels by listening to and anticipating customer needs.
Paid media (advertising), earned media (content), and owned media (social and PR) are rapidly converging into just … media. Digital channels have long enabled real time optimization of display advertising, but as social listening and monitoring tools proliferate nearly as quickly as social media channels, real-time matters more to marketers. This is true not just because of social media, but also because social is now what provides the creative impetus for paid and owned media. Based on research my colleague Jeremiah Owyang and I very recently jointly published, the new real-time marketing work cycle looks something like this:
Real-time marketing demonstrably works -- not just in social channels, but across the marketing spectrum. A recent GolinHarris study finds real-time not only positively impacts standard marketing goals -- word-of-mouth, attention, preference, likelihood to try or buy -- but it also turbocharges other marketing initiatives, including paid and owned media effectiveness.
How Real Companies Are Leveraging the Power of Real-Time Marketing
That's all well and good, but in the real world, how are marketers working in real time? There are lots of examples from brands you probably recognize, and most break into one of two buckets: event driven, and customer driven. The former category is what this post will focus on. Event driven real-time marketing embraces public events -- think a major sporting event, the Oscars, or Fashion Week. Brand events like trade shows or product launches fall into this category, too. You can even count breaking news in this bucket. Let's review seven examples of real brands going real-time with their marketing to spark your creativity.
Pepsi During Fashion Week 2011
Pepsi launched their Diet Pepsi skinny during Fashion Week 2011. Rather than advertise, the product was integrated into the event. Pepsi hired a journalist with full press credentials to the event. When she published, Pepsi amplified the content on social channels and also used Twitter and Foursquare to flag notable events. Brand positioning: "get the skinny" on fashion and pop culture.
Pizza Hut & Foursquare Team Up During the Super Bowl
People who checked in to the game unlocked a 'Super Swarm Sunday' badge with an offer: "spend $10, get $5 off" at Pizza Hut when paying with American Express. As of 6:20pm EST, 175,365 people had checked in (the number was growing by 1,000 per minute). By the time the badge expired, 303,445 people had checked in.
Oxygen Network Pilots OxygenLive
With over 2 million viewers per episode, "Bad Girls Club" is the Oxygen Network's top show. Early in its fourth season, the network piloted "OxygenLive" on the East Coast. The show, a "social viewing party" with talent from the show, pulled comments and conversations from social networks into a hub. Ratings for adults 18-49 were up 92% from the previous season in the East, while in the West, where "OxygenLive" didn’t air, ratings rose a mere 14%.
Walgreens' SoLoMo Foursquare Program
Customer driven real-time marketing tends to be customer service focused. In fact, new research from The Social Habit finds consumers reaching out to companies on social channels expect a response within 60 minutes. That's why it's freat that Walgreens’ SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) Foursquare program reaches in-store shoppers. Consumers who check in at a Walgreens location on Foursquare instantly receive a coupon for a special offer. Even more innovative: the coupon can be scanned directly from the phone.
Pretzel Crisps' "Social Sampling" Program
This real-time program monitors Twitter conversations to identify customers who are "in need of a snack." @PretzelCrisps offers to deliver a free product sample, often with a follow-up that encourages recipients to share feedback and start conversations about the brand. Pretzel Crisps has garnered over 4.2 million earned media impressions since the launch of the program in July 2010, has delivered some 3,600 free samples to consumers, and the company has seen sales increase up to 87 percent over the previous year.
@ChicagoCabbie Generates Repeat Business With Real-Time
The man managing #ChicagoCabbie proves you don’t have to be a big brand to get a big bang out of real-time marketing. The Twitter handle belongs to cabbie Rashid Temuri, who gets 90-95% of his repeat business through social media channels, primarily Twitter. Customers can follow him and check his location on Google Latitude or Find My Friends. When they need a cab, they know if he’s nearby and can tweet for a ride. Bonus: free WiFi in his cab!
EuroControl Oversees European Air Safety
During the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 that grounded all flights in the region, their homepage featured updated maps of the volcanic ash movement, explaining the implications. They updated their Facebook page, Twitter account, and relevant LinkedIn groups with useful information for travelers. They consistently used Twitter hashtags #euva and #ashtag to inform customers. After introducing the hashtags, customers themselves started sharing stories and tips with them.
Getting Real About Implementing Real-Time Marketing
Larger organizations dedicate significant resources to real-time marketing. Applebee’s has 7,000 employees in 1,000 locations handling real-time at a local and community level. Dell and Gatorade have vast listening centers equipped with sophisticated listening technology to measure brand sentiment. But all real-time strategies, large or small, begin with listening and learning -- long before talking or doing. Measuring conversations and sentiment is the first step in determining how real-time programs will develop. You can start with free monitoring tools, or invest in one of the many paid social media monitoring technologies.
The highest cost of real-time marketing can be the team that makes it happen. After all, always-on means 24/7 staffing. Arm teams with the necessary tools, and train them to respond in accordance with social media policies and in the brand's voice. Most importantly, empower them to work in an agile environment, free of the chain-of-approval strictures that are completely antithetical to real-time marketing.
How do you leverage the power of real-time in your marketing?
This is a guest contribution by Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group who covers digital advertising and media, an area that encompasses brands, publishers, agencies, and technology vendors. You can follow her on Twitter @lieblink.
Image credit: gi