How to stop the real-time technology washout

There are numerous real-time triggers that can be adopted for brand advertising. The use of real-time precipitation (e.g. rain, snow, sleet) and temperature data are perfect examples of what’s being used today in Britain.

This massive opportunity has become synonymous with one-off tactics for the occasional ‘flash sale’. Take Amazon’s latest weather-reactive online store #NowItsSummer. When the sun is out, customers are presented with all the summer essentials. But, as the British weather is renowned for its unpredictability, it also stocks umbrellas, anoraks and Wellington boots for those inevitable rainy days.

Everyone’s been caught out in a downpour without an umbrella, and more so recently in the sweltering heat and in need for sun cream. Sure enough, the first vendor to pedal us a bottle of factor 30 gets the sale but through this real-time marketing has become embroiled in this low hanging and somewhat gimmicky affair.

Companies need to get creative rather than bombarding customers, hunting for high open rates and chasing click-through. Real-time triggers shouldn’t be a tactic relegated to just the bottom of the funnel. Brands need to smarten up to trends that dominate and resonate with consumers today.

>See also: 4 key Internet of Things analytics trends for marketing pros

Speed being the key, consumers want to know what’s going on now and they want all the information as it’s happening round the clock. Being timely builds brand relevance.

Widening brands horizons

Real-time marketing has the potential to extend well beyond the reach of Amazon’s algorithms. For instance, if sales data shows the purchase volume of anti-histamines usually rocket when pollen counts increase, health brands should tailor their advertising campaigns so that they automatically scale up in the run up to higher pollen counts.

The dynamic reactionary response would mean budget is not wasted. Instead, being smarter with timings will drive a stronger market response by promoting the products when they are most relevant to consumers – even if consumers don’t know why.

Virgin Holidays has embraced real-time data and exploited the unpredictable weather that graces the UK, year in year out. “We want to be less reliant on trading-focused emails and move to a more customer-centric approach,” said Saul Lopes, strategic insights and loyalty manager at Virgin Holidays. “For example, where the content of the email is dictated by what is relevant and useful to that individual customer at a given moment in time.”

They saw a noticeable shift in sales when there was a bad week of weather and the opposite when the UK was gifted with a rare bit of sunshine. Weather-activated offers allows travel brands to optimise timing for promotions as well as select which destinations to boost.

Brands can utilise the combination of real-time weather and real-time location data to further improve the relevancy of their marketing. As Snap Map is enabling, brands can re-target customers based on their location and direct them towards the closest outlet with their products in stock.

For example, if the pollen count has gone above a given range in a given location, brands can pursue an audience who will be more inclined to purchase its products in that exact place at the time most need.

>See also: How technology will drive marketing in the next few years – Gartner

Considered and intelligent advertising

Of course, real-time marketing is not limited to weather. Be it the result of a sports game or a tube strike in London, brands need to be there, in the moment with customers. This is a paradigm shift from the days when advertising was stuck on billboards for weeks on end. Digital marketing needs new thinking and new tools to work effectively.

Today, brands should expect social media strategists and media buyers work closely together for them to take advantage of social’s full power to be reactive and opportunistic. If there’s a tube strike in London, this is the moment for companies selling collaboration and meeting tools to reach out to the commuter audience and solve an immediate need, in the run up to the inevitable chaos that transport strikes bring to the city.

It’s equally important to take advantage of the solutions available that can automate campaigns across all social media channels in response to rapidly changing events, such as promoting trainers after Premier League goals.

Many brands believe the only way they can catch the attention of a particular audience is to be obvious about things and bombarding customers. Instead of only going for the obvious, brands need to be smarter and realise the power of real-time marketing to be relevant to consumers and deliver meaningful experiences. It’s the best way to build relationships with consumers and create lasting value.


Sourced from Anupam Gupta, CPO, 4C Insights

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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