Today’s digital consumers are tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, emailing, and chatting 24/7, and they expect your brand to be present and accounted for, wherever and whenever they choose to be online. There’s no sleeping on the job these days for marketers who must find creative ways to connect and engage with these customers in real-time.
There is little doubt that marketers who are only focused on traditional campaign marketing—focused on the future and not in the moment—are about to be left behind. So how do you craft and create engaging content for these always-on consumers? How do you bridge the gap between your brand’s live presence and its engagement with your audience? Closing this gap to assure your brand lives “in the moment” will help you seize opportunities to connect and engage with an audience that can disappear as fast as they appear.
What is Real-Time Marketing?
Real-time marketing is the ability to monitor, manage and guide your marketing efforts as they occur or in “real time.” According to David Meerman Scott, a pioneer in the practice of real-time marketing, it is “when companies develop (or refine) products of services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. It’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.”
Creating and publishing real-time content needs to be a priority for companies who want to take content marketing to the next level. In order to do so you’ll need to arm yourself with the latest tools to find out who these people are, what they want and how best to engage them. If you are the first to engage the market, people notice and your offering gains valuable attention. Scott says, “If you react early and connect with customers as their concerns arise, they see you as thoughtful and caring.”
Top Tips to Kick-Start Your Real-Time Content Marketing
- Live “in the moment.” There are no off-hours in digital marketing. Brands that are not engaging potential users continuously are doomed to fail in today’s network-connected society. Digital marketers must embrace fluidity and agility in marketing to maintain 24/7 presence of their brand.
- Be watchful, ever-present. Smart marketers continuously monitor the breaking news and conversations taking place in the marketplace. They then react instantaneously to what’s happening by creating content—blog post, tweet, or video—that offers some type of reaction or response to these real-time events. By doing so, they will dominate competitors in the digital world.
- Speed up or get run over. The organic growth of the networked world is moving and changing at lightening speed and will only get faster. Content is being published instantaneously and continuously. Marketers must move just as fast and be responsive to market shifts and changing consumer trends. Bottom line: Be out in front of it, or be run over by it and your competitors.
- Search = Opportunity. When someone sits down to “search” online, marketers must respond by providing informative content that answers the questions being sought in these queries. Not having relevant, engaging content at that moment is likely a lost opportunity to connect with potential buyers.
- Arm yourself. The good news for marketers is there’s been a virtual flood of tools being introduced that help you see breaking trends on Twitter, reveal how individual customers interact with your content, identify your brand’s social influencers, and solve the riddle of what all this data means in order to make it actionable. Google Alerts, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are just a few examples.
- Give newsjacking a try. This new media-savvy technique let’s marketers piggyback on breaking news stories. It provides the opportunity to inject ideas or add new dimensions to the story as soon as it breaks—via blog posts, tweets, or media alerts. It only works when it’s executed in real time but can generate tons of media coverage for your company or brand by being associated with the breaking story online.
The Bottom Line
Real-time content marketing is not easy but it can be lightening in a bottle for companies willing to be proactively vigilant. To leverage its potential, digital marketers must listen to what’s being said online about their brands and what’s happening in the marketplace, digest and analyze, then immediately formulate content in response that delivers the right message in the right formats.
Barb Schmitz is professional writer with over 20 years of experience writing for B2B and B2C publications and web sites. She served as an editor on Computer-Aided Engineering magazine for over 10 years before starting her own PR/freelance writing business in 2000. Her expertise includes interviewing, researching and writing whitepapers, blogs, e-books, case studies, and feature articles.