Real-Time Marketing Gets Real

Only marketers who understand how to interact with the always-on consumer in real time will succeed. That’s the premise of a new book written by my iCrossing colleague Rob Garner, Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing. Search and Social is the primary resource for helping CMOs become real-time content marketers with always-on consumers.

Garner is certainly not the first pundit to comment on real-time marketing (a brand being always present for the always-on consumer). Regis McKenna was writing about real-time marketing in 1995, as noted by Richard Fouts of Gartner.

Regis McKenna wrote about real-time marketing in a seminal Harvard Business Review article in 1995 and published this book in 1997.

Rob Garner contributes to the real-time marketing discussion by describing how marketers can combine social media, search, and content marketing to build close audience relationships in real time.

As Garner writes on the iCrossing Content Lab, “The phrase ‘being present’ means much more than just having a website, or a social media profile. In social networks, being present means participating in conversations and answering questions about your brand (and leading conversations that fall into your own general area of expertise). In search, being present means you can passively address your audiences by having robust and highly visible content repositories that meet and variety of the unique needs and uses of your audience.

He cites Zappos as an example of a brand that understands how to be present via search, social, and content:

Not only does Zappos have a wide body of content that is shared socially, but its content often dominates search results page in the paid and natural results. Furthermore, Zappos does not miss a question anyone asks on social spaces. Zappos has more 1,000 active representatives on Twitter, and they are ready to meet the needs of any Twitter user at a moment’s notice. In effect, Zappos markets passively in real-time through search and marketing actively by being present in spaces like Twitter.

Brands like Zappos succeed because they focus not on channels but on the wants and needs of the always-on consumer — people who are online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, shaping perceptions of your brand.

Here is how iCrossing President and CEO Don Scales describes the always-on consumer the foreword to Search and Social:

She is increasingly savvy in the way she uses search tools and a network of digital media platforms and devices to understand who you are and how you compare against your competitors. And she’s not shy about telling the world what she thinks of you. In real time.

Consider a mom planning a family vacation. She might use specialty apps and search tools on her mobile device to find lodging options. When she’s ready to book a room at a place that looks appealing, she either relies on a self-service travel booking site or visits your website to find the best rate. If you give her a great deal, she lets you know about it on your Twitter account and Facebook wall. Then when she’s on vacation at your hotel, she posts pictures of her vacation in real time on her Instagram and Pinterest accounts — or sends you an angry tweet if she’s having a bad time and you have something to do with it. After her vacation ends, she reviews your resort on TripAdvisor and Yelp for good measure.

Reading passionate discussions about always-on consumers and real-time marketing is like being re-introduced to a friend. How do you define real-time marketing? Is real-time marketing shaping how you build your brand? Why or why not? Meantime, I encourage you to learn more about Search and Social and check out this replay of a webinar on real-time content marketing that Garner conducted recently with Darika Ahrens of Forrester Research.

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