How to Get Started with Real-Time Mobile Marketing

May 3, 2017 Parker Davis

Real time mobile marketing

So you’ve probably heard a lot by now about how mobile is overtaking desktop as the go-to option most consumers turn to when they surf the web, right? You may be wondering as a marketer or business owner how to turn this trend to your advantage. If so, you’d do well to consider real-time mobile marketing, which, due to its rising popularity, could almost be considered a trend within a trend, if you catch our drift. We’ve pulled together this discussion around how to get started to help you on your quest to greatness.

What is Real-Time Mobile Marketing?

Ok, so the first thing we need to get to is how to define this beast, real-time mobile marketing, all the better that we may recognize it for what it is when we see it.

So we’ll back it up a notch to begin with, and start with plain old mobile marketing first. Some definitions are drawn from across the web:

“Mobile marketing is a multi-channel, digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS and MMS, social media, and apps.” - Marketo

Mobile marketing is the interactive multichannel promotion of products or services for mobile phones and devices, smartphones and networks.”  - Techopedia

Alright, so far so good.

Now we need to incorporate the real-time aspect. And it doesn’t get any easier than this: simply put, real-time marketing or RTM, is marketing done in real time, “on the fly,” in the moment, so to speak.

Need a real life example? Some of the best instances of real-time marketing have stemmed from brands publishing live social media content during the Super Bowl. A classic was Oreo’s famous Power Out commercial during the Super Bowl blackout. (For more examples check out Mashable).

So putting it all together, real-time mobile marketing is a multichannel, interactive digital marketing strategy used to promote products and services to potential customers via mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets) and delivered in real time.

Herein lies the promise, and the challenge. For real-time mobile marketing, is not easy to do, nor to get right. There are plenty of examples of brands who have missed the boat (the recent Oscars was a good example) and brands who, having taken the leap, must have wished they hadn’t.

What distinguishes the winners from the losers? We thought you’d never ask.

Critical Success Factors in Real-Time Mobile Marketing

1.    Be prepared

Even though spontaneous advertising to coincide with real-time events may seem off-the-cuff and totally unplanned, the most successful real-time marketing commercials tend to be anything but.

As Angela Watercutter, writing for the Wired blog notes, on the night of the Super Bowl, Oreo reportedly had a 15-member staff team at the ready, including writers, strategy people, and an artist – just in case any opportunity came up to turn the moment to their marketing advantage.

When the lights went out, they saw their chance … and put out a carefully crafted message that rapidly went viral. (For the record: their ad read: “Power Out? No problem” with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark” against an image of a lone Oreo).

It was smart, it was fast, it was funny. But unplanned it certainly wasn’t.

2.    Be relevant

There’s no point being ready if your carefully crafted advertising message falls flatter than the proverbial pancake once you send it out.

Apart from timing, relevance is an important ingredient, as Adweek suggests. Get it right, and you’re golden. But interrupt your target audience’s favorite activity or programming with some poorly chosen phraseology and sit back and wait for the backlash.

Perhaps the worst of these examples are those where the company in question has attempted to capitalize on a trending hashtag without fully understanding the context.

We won’t add insult to injury by recounting those mistakes there, as many of these were highly offensive the first time around, intentional or not. But if you Google “real time marketing fails” you will be bound to turn some up.

Basically, don’t be those guys. Be the other ones. The good ones.

3.    Be metric minded

If you are going to go to all this effort thinking ahead and looking to the next real-time mobile marketing opportunity, you’ll need to be sure you measure it appropriately.

As Jeff Beringer, contributor to PR week, notes, real-time marketing is all about “engagement with urgency,” and this applies equally so within the mobile environment. If you are going to be campaigning within this context, you need to adjust your performance metrics accordingly.

Rather than thinking about your marketing performance in quarterly or weekly blocks like you might be used to, it might be worth mixing up your metrics to match your real-time strategies… on an individual event basis may even be the way to go here.

What Next?

Ok, so let’s assume you’re committed to giving real-time mobile marketing a red hot go. You’ve got the appropriate support from the top, the right team assembled, and you know which mistakes you WON’T be making.

The time has come to develop a strategy. Not a STRATEGY, otherwise known as a 5-year planning effort that is going to consume a lot of resources and ultimately gather dust on a shelf (or whatever the electronic version of that might be).

No, a strategy-lite that gives enough structure and direction so that everyone knows what they are meant to be doing, but still leaves plenty of room for experimentation. That kind of strategy.

Having said this, the strategy-lite will assume that you have done all the foundation market research homework that you should have already done anyway, in order to come up with an overall marketing strategy.  You know, that bit about understanding your target market (or market segments) and their compelling needs, understanding what your Unique Value Proposition is and checking out the alignment between the two.

(That foundational stuff is essential for any business. The real-time mobile marketing strategy should dovetail neatly with what is already there, not compete with it).

So. To return to the topic at hand. Here’s some next steps to help you get there:

•    Make sure your website is mobile-friendly This is an essential whether or not you are going to take mobile marketing any further. With more customers now reaching for a mobile device rather than a computer when they want to surf the net, you really can’t afford not to be mobile-friendly.

•    Understand your mobile market.  You may have done the overall research, but are you sure you fully understand how your target market behaves on mobile? Have you pulled the data and analyzed it?

•    Start small Understand the opportunities. Experiment, but don’t put it all on the line. Keep checking out what others are doing well, and what they aren’t. Run a small-scale mobile ad campaign, review it intensively.

•    Keep learning Real-time mobile marketing often goes hand in hand with marketing automation services. They ensure you can proactively push messaging to customers in real time, but only when it is appropriate (i.e. according to rules that you establish). If your small-scale experimentation indicates it might be something you want to explore investing in, this is a likely next step.

Well, this has certainly been a whirlwind tour, but hopefully, we have been able to give a good sense of both the possibilities and challenges wrapped up in the package that is real-time mobile marketing. The only thing left to do now is to get out there and take it for a spin!

About the Author

Parker Davis

Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. In 2016, Answer 1 will achieve record revenues while also being awarded the Top Companies to Work For in Arizona award. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership.

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