Real-time marketing (RTM) has been a buzzword for nearly a decade now, and industry experts continue to sing its praises. But what is real-time marketing, exactly? The answer to that question keeps evolving.
Real-time marketing has always been about marketing in the moment. The result feels immediate, dynamic, and conversational. Initially, this meant copywriters tweaking ad messages for current events and headlines. Today, it means Artificial Intelligence responding to your customers and their micro-moments.
Our expectations for 'real time' keep evolving with tech. 32% of shoppers now expect a personalized discount within one hour of sharing their info with a retailer. At its best, real-time marketing feels instantaneous– and these days, anything slower than that tends to feel... not-so-real.
If you shop online, you've probably already enjoyed the benefits of real-time marketing. So how can you apply them in your own business?
This explainer will introduce you to real-time marketing and offer up tips for choosing the best RTM tech.
What Is Real-Time Marketing?
Real-time marketing (RTM) is the latest evolution in personalized marketing. Going beyond the usual personal data (name, demographic, search history, etc.), digital marketers can now draw on time-sensitive data from a customer's life, actions, and environment.
For example: with personal data alone, you might trigger a follow-up email to a shopper that says, 'Marsha, you're a valued customer, and here are some deals we think you might like based on previous purchases.'
With real-time data, that messaging can look more like: 'Marsha, the first snows are falling today in your town! So we're offering a deal on winter coats in your size, like these ones that you've been ogling on our site...'
And instead of a triggered email, it might be a chatbot popping up as soon as Marsha clicks away from the jacket pages on your retail site. Or, it might mean revising the webpages in real-time based on the features that Marsha seems to prefer.
Yesterday’s Real-Time Marketing: Broadcast
In 2013, during Superbowl XLVII, the power suddenly went out in the football stadium, and viewers worldwide suddenly had to wait. In a matter of minutes, Oreo tweeted a visual piece that read: 'Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.'
It gave the effect of being there with you, watching the same game. And with that, they were deemed marketing gods. Real-time marketing became a mainstream buzzword. Kit Kat and Wendy's soon got wise. Soon, these accounts were generating their own news events, climaxing in the great chicken sandwich twitter war of 2019.
Now it seems like every commercial brand has an army of hyper-clever copywriters spinning puns on the news cycle, leveraging event hashtags and brand ambassadors. It's fun and effective, but it's time-intensive and relatively passive.
Today’s Real-Time Marketing: Granular
Tech’s grown a lot more sophisticated in recent years, and customers expectations grow more savvy. Instead of a witty ad about headline news, your marketing can be an active participant in the customer's experience on website, social media, and apps.
Thanks to enhanced data and AI, you can know exactly how and where a customer is engaging your site or app. The personalized flair becomes more exact. The recommendations become more relevant. The touch-points become more welcoming.
The experience becomes more dynamic.
What Are The Features of RTM?
Real-time Marketing improves upon the cornerstones of digital marketing. What sets it apart from previous marketing tactics is behavior analysis. It's a game-changer: 91% of marketers in a recent survey said that behavior analysis is the most effective form of customer segmentation.
The pages a visitor clicks on, the time they spend on each page, the routes they take to arrive there – this info is all available in milliseconds. Hearty analytic AI builds a story from the data to decide on next steps.
Automation is the key to engaging every customer in real-time, especially if your business is trying to scale its marketing. With automation, you never miss a beat.
This might look like…
Knowing who a visitor is, what they're looking for, and how they're trying to find it, you can provide them with relevant options at every step of the journey. For example, the AI determines that your visitor is interested in red cocktail dresses, size 8, priced between $85 and $130. The next page will lead with all garments that fit the criteria, as well as some adjacent options.
How Does Real-Time Marketing Work?
In the marketing world we love talking about tech... but marketing really starts and ends with people: producers, buyers, sellers. And without a real, live, human marketing team, your business won't have the flair and human touch it needs to succeed.
The tech we're discussing here is huge. Why? Because it can carry out your team's vision precisely and automatically, which frees you up for the creative tasks that bring more value to your job and business.
With that in mind, let's go through the big steps in the RTM process.
First-Party Data Collection
First-party, real-time data is what sets RTM apart from older personalization marketing models. This comes from numerous sources, like tracking a user's cursor location, or the time they spend with certain products on your app. Or visitors might be greeted on a fashion retail site by a bot asking 'What are you shopping for today?' The same way a human clerk in a brick and mortar store would.
With data collected, in a matter of milliseconds AI will synthesize the story of what this visitor wants and needs. Let's say a visitor to your ecommerce site clicked on pages displaying ugly red-green sweaters, candy canes, and Santa hats – this person is likely Christmas shopping. The next page they click might recommend wrapping paper, bows, and tinsel.
Equally important is figuring out how visitors are arriving at the products on your site that they like best. AI determines the best ways to present them with new options.
This can be applied for macro-level path-to-purchase insights – so if data shows that they arrived on your site from their social media feed, it you'll know that's the more effective place to reach them for follow-up ads. It can also mean micro-level journeys, like identifying obstructions in the final shopping cart stages.
AI triggers the next marketing move according to its insights and predictions – using their preferred language on their preferred channel, at their preferred time, and with their preferred offers.
Let's say a visitor has been clicking at a brisk pace through numerous bluetooth speaker systems for sale on your site, but suddenly, their activity has slowed down. Perhaps they need some assistance. So a chatbot appears, offering to answer any questions they may have about the products.
One great benefit of marketing in the data age is learning what is not working so well. AI is constantly learning from interactions and adjusting tactics based on these insights. A/B testing is also a useful option with these new capabilities.
Is the exit pop-up you designed actually converting anyone? If not, it might be time to edit the language there, or try a new retention tactic entirely. Have customers consistently ignored your chatbot? AI can employ a modified script next time to see if it gets any more traction.
The cycle begins again with every new click. This also means re-targeting customers after they've left your site. Follow-up emails and coupons can work wonders to cut down abandoned shopping cart rates.
What Are The Benefits of Real-Time Marketing?
With automation and A.I. your can employ marketing in a turn-key way that saves countless labor hours in prep, engagement, and follow-up. On top of that, what are the bottom-line results?
Relevance for consumers today requires more than trend-spotting. Relevance means reliable, accessible, welcoming customer experiences that keep them coming back. Sephora's Color IQ is a great example – it makes the brand relevant to each customer immediately by tailoring cosmetic recommendations to the user's skin tone.
Fewer friction points
Real-time support makes transactions easier for all parties involved, which leads to more sales. The workwear brand Carhartt added a chatbot to their site to help confused visitors. Their automated, dynamic guidance leads to more converted sales and a 10-25% increase in orders size.
Efficient Ad Spend
By testing, revising, and renewing campaigns on the fly, real-time marketing campaigns are constantly learning about what customers want and creating more effective tactics. Consumer goods juggernaut Proctor & Gamble credits its recent shift to one-to-one marketing with a 30% decrease in ad waste.
What To Look For In RTM Tools
There are more and more options for real-time marketing support. Before you commit to any one of them, make sure that it has these strong fundamentals.
Real-time marketing requires real-time data. There's simply no getting around this. Third-party data is useful for finding broad swaths of potential customers, but the accuracy of third-party data is under increasing scrutiny.
Real-time data means first-party data – you're collecting it yourself. The initial infrastructure cost will be higher than your usual third-party data purchases, but the result is far more accurate campaigns and easier compliance with state and federal digital privacy laws.
Plus: you'll own that new, reliable data. You're cultivating a database over time. It's an investment in long-term relevance.
The wealth of data is a blessing, as long as you can make sense of it. Data-driven marketing campaigns require sophisticated data management tools.
You want a platform that offers control, real-time metrics, and security – all in a user-friendly interface. Integrating it with the sales and CRM platforms already in your place will also make your life a lot easier – and your team more effective. Effective management can save your business millions.
At base, A.I. should always be collecting and analyzing data, suggesting action, testing and revising strategy. Effective A.I. should be able to predict not only what the individual customer wants, but how best to deliver it to them within your business's larger strategy.
Dynamic email offers are one example. When extending an exclusive offers to a customer, A.I. can determine exactly how much of a discount – say, 15% rather than 10% or 20% – will prompt a person to complete the purchase. This mean higher conversion rates and lower discount margins – money earned and money saved at the same time.
Moving Toward Dynamic Solutions
As real-time marketing becomes increasingly reactive and adaptive, we keep moving toward the original goal of personalized marketing: connecting with customers as individuals.
Automation, analytics, and A.I. make it easy for retailers to welcome individual shoppers worldwide and offer the best products for each person's life. Tracking their behavior allows you to understand what any person is looking for, and how to best help them find it in the moment.
An intuitive, integrative data management platform allows you to employ the tools and strategize new marketing campaigns with precision and ease.
All of this is scalable for independent businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations. How can a more dynamic marketing approach serve you? Contact RevTrax reps today and find out.