At Percolate, we talk a lot about how social media has been the catalyst for change in the scale, pace, and pattern of human interaction. For brands, this catalyst has driven an obvious shift from campaign management towards real-time communications.
Altimeter’s recent report by Rebecca Lieb and team on Real-Time Marketing is a good primer on how brands can approach the new media landscape, starting with a solid working definition on what RTM exactly is:
The strategy and practice of responding with immediacy to external events and triggers. It’s arguably the most relevant form of marketing, achieved by listening to and/or anticipating consumer interests and needs.
The report itself is a helpful overview, and there are a series of takeaways that we’ll be keeping an eye on in the coming year at Percolate.
1) Real-time marketing requires proactive process, not just reactive response.
Many of the challenges associated with real-time marketing are process problems. The Altimeter report identifies the perceived barrier of approvals as the biggest obstacle in the adoption of real-time tactics.
It’s not enough to “have a great relationship with legal” – the most successful brands have pre-defined systems to reduce the friction associated with real-time content creation. Having content assets locked and loaded helps facilitate the appearance of real time to customers. Proactive management of processes and guidelines establishes confidence for all stakeholders and allows for shorter production timelines.
2) Customer Interactions should be similar to Breaking News
One of the more helpful areas of the report is the use case classification for real-time marketing. While we could talk at length about the graph below, it’s most important to note where Customer Interactions are located:
Public consumer interaction falls into the same category as breaking news – an unplanned, reactive opportunity to showcase clever or favorable interactions with your consumers. CRM doesn’t have to live exclusively in a side-channel, and real-time content doesn’t just have to be about culturally relevant moments. Brands can advertise through customer praise, complaint resolution, or just interactions with a desirable segment of their audience.
3) The brand comes first
Altimeter’s first three steps in preparing for real-time marketing are to understand the audience, define business objectives, and integrate with the brand’s broader content marketing strategy. “Develop a brand compass if you don’t already have one, and apply it to real-time marketing,” explains Sabrina Caluori, Vice President of Digital and Social Media at HBO in the report. By placing the brand’s identity and marketing goals first and foremost in a real-time marketing strategy, teams can move quickly without risking brand equity or disconnecting from larger marketing goals.
4) ‘But will it scale?’ is a very real question
Altimeter cites the current trend in real-time marketing as “considerably more human”. Many companies underscored the importance of having a “War Room” where teams can literally be present and collaborate together in real time.
Personnel remains the largest component of content marketing spending, occupying 52% of budgets. Appropriately scaling real-time content creation will be a key focus for all brands in 2014.
5) Great tools combine Strategy and Execution
The best tools should help with both requirements. The report concludes with an imperative that “enterprises strategically adopt real-time marketing in a fashion that will both benefit the business now and scale to address future requirements.” With the right tools, brands can build systems around real-time content strategies and establish scalable process frameworks for execution.