The Ultimate Guide to Real-Time Marketing in 2018

UPDATED August, 2018

Real-time marketing is one of the best ways to boost brand awareness and engage with your audience in a fun, unique way. Best of all, it is something that almost any brand from any industry can engage in. That is not the case when it comes to most marketing trends, but this trend has enough adaptability that you can make it work.

In fact, we would go so far as to say that real-time marketing is something that any brand should try out. However, there are several things you need to keep in mind. Let’s discuss exactly what real-time marketing is, what the main benefits and risks are, as well as how to best employ it.

What is Real-Time Marketing?

You’ve likely heard the term before, but do you have a solid grasp on what it is? Oreo still has one of our favorite examples of real-time marketing, as witnessed during the 2013 Super Bowl:

Oreo Twitter
The power went out during the game, and minutes later this tweet was posted. Not only did they get the message out in real-time, they focused on an event that had a major audience. Even if you have never had an Oreo in your life, you likely saw (or at least heard) about this tweet.

As you’ve likely picked up on, real-time marketing is unplanned and involves reacting quickly to major events as they happen. Timing is critical, especially when it comes to breaking news or live events coverage. For example, if the above tweet was sent out the following morning, it would have been far less effective. As the name suggests, the point of this type of marketing is to capitalize on something as it is happening. This can be scary for marketers who are used to creating (and following) strict content plans, but can pay off when executed correctly.

The Three R’s

While the Oreo example is one of the best examples of real-time marketing, it is certainly not the only way to approach this type of marketing. While they certainly took advantage of a major pop culture moment, real-time marketing doesn’t always have to happen in the context of major events. Rather, approach this type of marketing by keeping in mind what we are calling the Three R’s.

  1. Recent: Most important, what you are covering has to have happened recently! And no, unfortunately that doesn’t mean within the last week. News travels fast these days, and even something that happened hours ago can feel old.
  2. Relevant: What you choose to cover has to be relevant to your brand and industry. For that reason, it may not be the most popular story of the day. It doesn’t need to be! Instead, focus on what matters to your audience. If they don’t care about sports, don’t cover sports!
  3. Real: While recency and relevancy may be the two most important things to remember, you also want to remember to be real. What does real look like? It depends! This type of marketing should fit in to your existing content strategy and feel like it belongs. You’ve taken the time to develop your brand identity, and this is simply an additional piece. Don’t force it- your audience will pick up on it. Keep reading to see some actual examples of real-time marketing to give you some inspiration!

Benefits of Real-Time Marketing

real-time marketing
Image credit(s): Leap Agency

So, what exactly can this type of content do for your brand? The above chart does a great job showing some of the main reasons why marketers are investing in real-time marketing. Real-time marketing can help you connect with your audience, boost your social media presence, increase SEO, and a lot more. Not bad!

Additionally, we love that real-time marketing can help set you apart from your competition. We admit: real-time marketing isn’t easy! It takes patience and dedication, and not every brand can commit to that. If you do, you’ll position yourself above others in your industry.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, users love this type of content. In fact, research shows that nearly 60% of marketers report that real-time marketing increases both customer satisfaction and a brand’s overall image. Increasing customer satisfaction sets you on the path towards more loyal and repeat customers, something all brands strive to achieve.

Putting it into Action

If you’ve decided that real-time marketing is something you’d like to try out (smart decision!) you might be wondering where exactly to start. How can you best take advantage of this type of marketing?

First- you need a platform that can get your message delivered and seen quickly. Sound familiar? Web push notifications are one of the best ways to get a message in front of your audience quickly. They deliver to both mobile and desktop devices, and don’t require you to be visiting a certain website or even using a browser at all.

real-time marketing
If you cover sports, a breaking news alert like this is highly relevant and received instantly.


As we mentioned earlier, the success of these types of messages is heavily dependent on whether a user sees them right away or not. Almost no other platform can guarantee the quick visibility that web push provides (except for SMS marketing, which we have talked about previously). Breaking news alerts, like the above example, are great examples of real-time marketing that work great with web push notifications.

Not only do these notifications deliver instantly, they are also quick to set up. You can set up a manual notification and schedule it in almost no time at all. Combined with our segmentation and scheduling options, you have a lot of control over your notifications without having to spend a lot of time.

Social Media

Arby's Twitter

A discussion on real-time marketing wouldn’t be complete without mentioning social media, and for good reason. Social platforms are great for engaging with users and should definitely be part of your strategy. However, it is increasingly hard for organic posts to be seen by your audience. If you aren’t a huge brand like Oreo or Arby’s, you might be wondering if your social media can have the same impact. The answer? Yet again- it’s web push. Using our Zapier integration you can connect your social media posts to send out via web push. This ensures your audience will see it immediately, and allows them to click the notification in order to engage with the post as they please (responding, retweeting, liking, etc.).

A lot of major real-time marketing examples have taken place via social media, so it is important to understand the importance that it has in your overall content marketing strategy, as well as your real-time marketing strategy.

What is great about the above web push example, or the tweet from Arby’s, is that you don’t have to worry about putting together a great visual. Oreo had one, but there are plenty of opportunities where it isn’t necessary. Visual content has a major role in marketing, but when it comes to real-time marketing, the rules are a little different.

The Rise of Stories

If you have a certain theme going for your social media page, you might be worried that adding in some real-time marketing content will ruin the overall look. Makes sense! You spend a lot of time ensuring your page has a certain look that matches your overall brand identity.

Thankfully, the rise of Instagram Stories has made it easier for brands to push out content quickly. With Stories, there is less of a need to make the content look perfect. In fact, that isn’t the point of Stories at all! This specific area of social media allows you to be more relaxed with your customers, making it a great avenue for real-time marketing.

In particular, Instagram has done a great job of adding in interactive elements that can make your real-time marketing content really powerful. Try out questions, polls, the rating system- there is a lot to choose from!

real-time marketing
Your creative options when posting an Instagram Story.

Use your Instagram Story to post quick content that is recent, relevant, and real! While you can use your Story for a lot of other pieces of content, it is a great home for all of your real-time marketing content that you want to quickly share with your audience.

real-time marketing
Image credit(s):

If your brand focuses on breaking the latest industry news, using Instagram Stories is a great way to get the word out, just as E! News does for all breaking entertainment and pop culture news.

Risk Factors

So far, real-time marketing is sounding like a pretty great way to boost engagement with your audience, right? It certainly is. But that doesn’t mean it is without risk. The last thing you want to do is appear like you are begging for attention by jumping on any and all breaking news stories, events, or trends.

real-time marketing
This push notification would feel out of place for a lot of brands.


Take the above example. If your website focuses on pop culture and appeals to a younger demographic, there is nothing wrong with the notification. For many brands, however, it will likely feel out of place. You know to keep your specific industry and audience in mind when it comes to other forms of marketing, and the same applies when it comes to this type as well. You can easily turn a great opportunity into a PR disaster if you aren’t careful.

Instead, focus on news and trends happening within your niche. If you step outside of your industry, make sure it makes sense to do so and results in content that your audience will find useful, interesting, or entertaining.

Wrapping Up

Real-time marketing is a great way to engage with your audience and differentiate yourself from your competition. Utilizing web push, you can easily and quickly get your content in front of your audience. Social media also allows you to get creative and engage with your audience in a fun, meaningful way. This type of marketing isn’t easy to pull off, and requires some patience to wait for the right opportunity, but when done well, is something that will certainly pay off.

Have you engaged in real-time marketing before? Let us know by sending us a message.

If you want to get started with web push, sign up for our 14-day free trial now!

Tags: digital marketing, ecommerce, real-time marketing*, web push notifications, zapier.
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