What is Real Time marketing? Real Time marketing is a data-driven approach to marketing. The concept is less transparent than it sounds: if we want to establish the true meaning, saying that “Real Time marketing is based on data” may not be enough. We might be led to equate this definition with a trivial reading of the daily news. Instead, the issue is far more complex and nuanced. 

We opened this cycle of articles by giving a definition of Brand Awareness, now let’s continue by explaining what is Real Time marketing.

By the phrase “real time marketing”, we are not referring to the generic readiness of the marketer who translates his or her intuition about a certain event into an impromptu momentum. It’s not a matter of “riding the wave” or cannibalizing current events, often clumsily, in order to implement initiatives that are in line with the moment. So, what is Real Time marketing? Instead, Real Time marketing allows for access to the information structure of a phenomenon or trend while they are happening. 


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What is Real Time marketing and how to adapt to the new normal

The development of techniques and tools related to Real Time marketing became possible – and quickly became necessary – when it became a priority for companies to make the most of the enormous amount of data that is produced and distributed online every second. Indeed, the increase in digital interactions has taken on an astounding dimension. 

In the past two years, in particular, partly as a result of the acceleration to digital transformation imposed by the pandemic, we have witnessed an explosion in the volume of transactions carried out in e-commerce. According to Capgemini, annual commercial sales have grown by 27.6% , reaching 18% of all global retail sales (with a total value of $4.28 trillion) in 2020. 

The chase for a “new normal”, which is constantly being renegotiated in response to rapid changes in consumer habits, has made a typical feature of Real Time marketing even more evident: its ability to adapt to an evolving context in real time.

Real Time marketing, precisely because it draws on the knowledge produced by data analysis, enables brands to instantly connect with customers. Let’s explore this further.


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Marketing built on a solid foundation: real-time analytics  

On the one hand, the amount of time customers are willing to spend communicating with brands is increasingly limited. This trend, which has been ongoing for years now, is that of an unstoppable decrease in an individual’s average attention span. On the other hand, consumers now expect personalized, fluid, and multichannel interactions from companies, similar to what they experience every day with Netflix’s “recommendations for you”, Amazon’s “dynamic recommendations”, or Spotify’s “wrapped” feature.

For marketers, the challenge is to preside over multiple channels, employing them synergistically to intercept elusive and disenchanted consumers and persuade them to establish trust. Thanks to a host of highly innovative technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and cloud computing – now more than ever before, brands can connect with their audiences at a speed and accuracy unthinkable just a few years ago. 

A real-time reading of purchase paths and consumption habits is absolutely critical to enable companies to deliver the experiences consumers now expect (and sometimes demand). Underlying this sophisticated activity of interpreting reality is Real Time analytics.

What are real time analytics? 

According to TechTarget, Real Time analytics can be defined as ” the use of data and related resources for analysis as soon as it enters the system”.

Real Time marketing is based on such analytics: it involves the instantaneous use of data to develop a strategy focused on current trends and immediate customer feedback through hourly produced content. From a conceptual point of view, we might think that this is opposite from marketing that is planned in advance and with a fixed schedule, but this, as we shall see, is an antithesis that can, in many respects, be easily resolved. 

In any case, as a Harvard Business Review study (Real – Time Analytics: The Key to Unlocking Customer Insights & Driving the Customer Experience) identified, Real-Time analytics are crucial to improving the overall performance of organizations, at least according to two-thirds of the 560 business leaders surveyed. 

Other responses in the research also testify to brands becoming familiar with Real Time analytics, which were being used within marketing plans to personalize the customer journey and ensure customer loyalty. 

  • According to 60% of respondents, Real Time analytics had contributed to a more satisfying customer experience
  • More than half said that Real Time analytics had provided greater insight into the customer journey;
  • 58% had seen significant growth in end-customer retention and loyalty;
  • 44% claimed to have seen a major increase in terms of revenue.

More than half also claimed that after implementing Real Time analytics, the efficiency of marketing and sales flows had increased significantly, decision making had become faster, and collaboration with other business functions had become closer and had less friction.

What is Real time marketing on social media: listening and responsiveness  

Real Time marketing enables brands to react in real time (or near real time) whenever new patterns appear in consumer purchase paths. This responsiveness, enabled by advanced data analytics, is a distinctive quality of Real Time marketing and is fully exploited by social media marketers, who by focusing on events, trends, and feedback are able to anticipate customers’ needs and respond to their questions in a timely manner.

The technical specificities and inherent modes of use make social platforms incredibly receptive and predisposed to listening, perfect virtual environments for designing Real Time marketing initiatives.

Social media marketers find themselves living in a kind of synchronicity bubble that is traversed by a thousand informational vibrations. They are hypersensitive to the movements of communication and because of this, they are also usually among the first people to realize that a new fad is catching on or that a noteworthy trend has just appeared.

Real Time marketing is consistent with an approach that is aimed at capitalizing on the moment, but this doesn’t mean that it is destined to exhaust itself in a dynamic of improvisation (in the sense of extreme reactivity) and immediacy (and, on the other hand, this flattening does not occur with social media marketing either). In fact, there are many examples of Real Time marketing that goes beyond the dimension of pure contingency to more profoundly impact brand communication.

The opposition between Real Time marketing and planned marketing

In reference to social media (but not only), Real Time marketing is often described in opposition to “planned” marketing, where different initiatives are planned months in advance. Although intuitive–and, as we have seen, valid in principle on a conceptual level–this is actually, if taken as rigid and exclusive, a forced distinction that stems from a simplified view of the present moment of communication. 

If we look at the present moment as a kind of continuum (and not as a set of unconnected instants on a circumscribed time horizon) we will see that the possibility of planning also exists in the case of Real Time marketing. In the space between sudden and unpredictable events and events that are organized in the immediate future, it’s possible to plan actions that are suited to each micro moment so that even ongoing trends or passing fads can be made newsworthy. 

In both cases, whether it is Real Time marketing or marketing planned well in advance, the goal remains the same: to connect with the public and communicate the identity of the brand in its sector in a clear, non-dogmatic way, updating its history, values, and positioning with respect to market and consumer transformations.

We have seen that there is no Real Time marketing without Real Time analytics and that among the channels that companies use to build a relationship with their customers, social networks – due to a particular ontological affinity, we might say – implement it to a large extent and in a very articulate way. 

Let us now make a further clarification: regardless of the media chosen, the editorial plan, and the objectives of different campaigns, Real Time marketing can be more or less successful, more or less well done, more or less effective. The quality and success of Real Time marketing initiatives depend largely on the content. And they especially depend on the degree of personalization of the content.

The advantages of real time content marketing

Content creators today find themselves crafting their messages in a world that is constantly shaped by incessant streams of news. To create their content, they need a reliable starting point. The logical answer to this need is Real Time content marketing. What is Real Time content marketing? It represents a kind of land of conquest and experimentation: it is linked inseparably to the production of brand awareness throughout the funnel and is rooted in the confluence of creativity and data.

A content strategy that takes shape from customers’ Real Time analytics and gains strength and precision from them offers an extraordinary advantage: it fuels customer engagement. This is confirmed by a smartinsight survey, which finds that for the majority of people surveyed, Real Time marketing content:

  • they increase audience engagement (76%),
  • they increase customer satisfaction and positive brand perception (56%).

Thus, the benefits that emerge from the survey are related to certain, decisive aspects of the branding process, such as brand awareness, customer relationships, and quality of engagement. Let’s look at them in more detail.

  • Reacting in real time to a news story or event positions the brand as a current and up-to-date stakeholder.
  • Limited-time promotions and offers can be leveraged to create a sense of urgency. Immediate and interactive calls to action (“buy!”, “book!”, “click!”, “sign up!”) can encourage people to act now.
  • Real-time content is a great way to deepen the relationship with the audience. Sharing “exclusive” or behind-the-scenes events makes the audience feel part of the brand narrative.
  • Unlike pre-planned and highly processed content, Real Time marketing activities can be more immediate and spontaneous. A personalized video or responsive mini-site, for example, created through an automated platform can save time without sacrificing engaging storytelling.
  • Real time content helps vary the pace of more traditional formats, such as blog posts and white papers.
  • Real time marketing can help activate more authentic conversations between the brand and its audience, enabling the collection of up-to-date information on topics of interest and current events.
  • With real-time marketing, you can offer an interactive experience that is therefore perceived as more honest and inclusive.

Content personalization is the key element of real time marketing 

Real-time personalization is the ability to craft an ad hoc message, making it relevant to the individual user: the classic adage “right customer, at the right time, through the right channel” but in its tactical form of one-to-one marketing.

In a previous post, we explained the reasons for choosing Real Time marketing, describing it as an approach that can increase order volumes, enable perfectly concerted cross-selling and upselling actions, and make customers happier. We used to narrate customer “happiness”, which we emphasized, as a consequence of the opportunity, made possible by increasingly personalized marketing actions, to have unique experiences because they are tailored.

Real time marketing works if it can create and distribute relevant messages. It works if it uses those creative resources that others manage to develop personalized communication – such as mini-sites, videos, infographics – thanks to which it lays the foundation for a valuable relationship between company and target audience.