ThinkOTB Agency

How to use real-time marketing

March 28, 2017

Although its name may seem self-explanatory, the question of how and when to use real-time marketing as part of your wider strategy can be tough to answer. This week we have the roundup of how best to use real-time marketing for measurable results, and some inspiration from successful brand campaigns which integrate the technique. 

What is real-time marketing?

If you’re not completely sure what counts as real-time marketing, these definitions from industry commentators can provide a good base for your knowledge. 

For the Online Marketing Institute writing in 2015, real-time marketing is best defined as ‘interacting with [a brand’s] target audience based on current local, national or global events and trends and responding to immediate customer feedback.’ Here the focus is on interaction and response, with the short time it takes for brands to interact being a central feature.

However, Belgium-based data agency NGData argues that real-time marketing has in fact evolved since then, with time no longer being the key driver of the strategy. NGData argues that now real-time marketing is primarily customer-centric, which as well as leveraging current events should be widened to include ‘dynamic, personalized content across channels’ or ‘the right message delivered at the right time on the right platform.’

The key message here is that, even if the message takes a little longer to put out into the marketing sphere, taking the extra time to ensure it is the right message is likely to prove far more valuable than a lightning-fast, yet ultimately misjudged, reaction to an event.

When should you use it?

Working from the premise outlined in NGData’s definition, that using the right message at the right time can reap rewards, choosing the right time requires some thought.

A recent whitepaper by IBM (and distributed by Marketing Week) argues that ‘selecting the right offer for each customer is a complex challenge.’ This is particularly true given that, in many ways, it is the customer who has taken control of the dialogue between themselves and brands, namely through social media usage and an increased selectivity about the media they consume. 

Choosing when to interact with your customer is therefore crucial. IBM suggests that in doing so, ‘real-time decisioning [should] take into consideration the context of the customer’s current interaction to identify, prioritize and deliver the most appropriate message in any channel.’

The whitepaper suggests that there are therefore ‘four proven best practices in real-time inbound marketing that can produce bottom-line results: 

  1. Make it personal
  2. Balance business objectives with customer needs
  3. Use real-time decisioning
  4. Enable collaboration

By keeping these rules as a guideline within which to engage customers in ‘meaningful dialogue,’ and positioning your marketing team in such a way as to make decisions in real time, you are better able to adjust to customer-initiated interactions and capitalise upon the moment to create that all important connection.

Some successful real-time examples 

To get started with real-time marketing, drawing inspiration from the success of others is a good place to start.

Delta DNA

One such real-time success of recent months is Delta DNA. As a UK-based data platform primarily targeted at the online gaming community, Delta DNA has surpassed more than 100 million monthly active users for its real-time marketing and mobile analytics platform, according to a recent post by Venture Beat.  

Although in many ways a background element of a marketer’s toolkit, as opposed to a campaign in its own right, Delta DNA has successfully demonstrated the value of collecting and collating real-time data from its users in order to better understand their responsiveness to the adverts they are exposed to. With ‘the platform now processing approximately 25 billion data events and sending 120 million messages every single month’, the value of real-time marketing is beginning to be realised.


Another company keen to integrate real-time marketing into its strategy is Ryanair. Although Ryanair often faces criticism from its customers for its straight-talking, no-nonsense offering in both real and marketing terms, Ryanair has successfully used real-time marketing to its advantage to counter this view and ensure that brand-customer dialogue is at the heart of their strategy. 

Ryanair’s social media manager Michael Ryan told PR Week that alongside traditional PR techniques, the company uses real-time marketing as a form of planned reactive content. Ryan joked ‘we are constantly reviewing the social landscape for opportunities of growth, customers seeking assistance, the odd Father Ted joke and waiting for the latest Take That release’ to ensure we are on top of the dialogue taking place both around and outside of their brand sphere.

By keeping NGData’s guidelines in mind, and looking at how both household brands and behind-the-scenes organisations are integrating real-time into their marketing, it is possible to create meaningful and well-timed dialogue with customers in our often noisy marketing world.


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