Real-time marketing is one of the most important trends of the connected era, with various reports underlining it's growing relevance, particularly in regard to meeting rising consumer expectation. But while most brands acknowledge its importance, a new report has shown few can actually do it effectively - according to data produced by social intelligence software provider Wayin, only 4% of marketers can respond to breaking news and trends in real-time, with most saying it takes around 16-30 minutes for them to formulate a response.
Wayin's survey, taking in responses from 200 marketing professionals, director level and above, working at companies with $100 million or more in revenue, looks at the benefits of real-time marketing, the costs and planning required to effectively execute such a program, and the challenges many are facing in meeting rising consumer demand for such services.
Among the headline findings of the report were that:
- 59% of businesses are planning to increase their real-time marketing budget within the next year
- 98% reported a positive impact to revenue from real-time marketing
- 89% can tie real-time marketing efforts back to their overall business goals
These figures once again underline the value of real-time marketing, and it's importance in our increasingly connected world, largely facilitated by the rise of social media. Among those 59% of businesses looking to increase their real-time budgets, 66% of them will be looking to increase social media spend, specifically, while more than 78% of those businesses surveyed also noted that they have three or more staff dedicated solely to social media. This underlines the role social plays in the wider real-time marketing trend, and how the two are intrinsically linked - and given the correlation to positive revenue impact, it's clear that this is going to be an area of significant focus moving forward.
Challenges of the Present
The report also details the challenges businesses are facing in real-time marketing, with many struggling to meet the requirements. Almost half of the respondents believe that real-time marketing needs to happen within minutes, with 26% saying it has to occur within seconds to be truly effective. In contrast, 46% per cent of respondents said that it still takes them 30 minutes or more to respond to breaking news and events via social media. That's a significant gap, and one which will no doubt form the main focus of this report - while marketers acknowledge the value and importance of immediacy, many are facing significant challenges and roadblocks in their efforts to reach such rapid turnaround goals.
Lack of budget or resources came in as the biggest impediment preventing organizations from using social media data in real-time, with 47% of respondents indicating this was a factor. 'Staff can't respond quickly enough' was the second most common reason (43%), with 'Lack of search analytics tools' coming in third (41%). Content creation process was also mentioned as a factor, along with organizational resistance - though, refreshingly, that element was well down the list, coming in at only 26%.
Among tactics utilized, marketing automation, such as triggered e-mails, was the most commonly applied form of real-time marketing, with 62% of respondents indicating they employ this tactic. Responding to trends and engaging with customers on social media came in at 58%, with the creating of personalized content also factoring high on the list (57%).
These results show that there is a willingness and enthusiasm for real-time marketing and response to social media interactions, but there are still some impediments to the process. Triggered e-mails is probably not the most effective real-time marketing tactic, particularly given the emphasis on social channels, but it is the easiest, in regards to automated interaction - or at least the most receptive (social media automation is generally not as well-received as a triggered e-mail).
The Tech Factor
One of the more interesting findings of the report relates to the technological challenges of real-time marketing, and how many marketers don't yet feel they have the right technology to support their real-time ambitions.
While the significant majority of businesses utilizing real-time tactics are using technology to facilitate their efforts (95%), only 45% strongly agreed with the statement: "I have the technology in place to allow me to practice real-time marketing on social".
In an extension of this question, more than 50% of respondents identified social media monitoring and social media analytics tools as the key devices they need to run an effective real-time strategy, while only 11% identified culture and philosophy as impediments to the process.
This highlights significant opportunity for real-time analytics and monitoring tools. While there are a great many tools out there, it seems that not all businesses feel they have the data and UX they need to maximise their results. Such data is no doubt already being processed and analyzed by the big players in the social space, and will likely lead to better tools and options as they advance and evolve with such demand.
The report also shows that marketers are increasingly aware of the need to respond faster to users and trending topics via social media.
While this is an expected response, it does highlight, again, the importance being placed on real-time marketing and the growing demands of the connected generation. As more businesses work to meet this demand, others will need to follow, or they risk losing out by comparison - if seven out of ten businesses are responding within minutes on social media and you're still not active, how do you think that will reflect on your brand.
The report also further investigates the notion of how leaders are approaching real-time marketing and the benefits and returns they're seeing for such efforts. It's well worth a read, and it clearly shows that real-time marketing is the future and that the social media element of that equation, in particular, is something all brands need to be taking seriously.
The full 2015 Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report is available here.
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