There’s a problem right now in digital marketing, and it’s this: we can’t decide what real-time marketing means.Real-Time Marketing Clock

Don’t believe me? Do a google search for “real-time marketing.” Seven of the initial search results refer to it as the current newsjacking fad that has brands talking to each other on Twitter (and one even posits that this type of marketing “sucks”). Three spin in a distinctly different direction, calling it the practice of gathering knowledge of the customers and taking relevant action in a near instantaneous fashion.

The problem with all of this is that a good deal of marketers—and much of the media—have accepted the former as the definition of real-time marketing. And that’s not just limiting; it’s also extremely off base.

It’s time to push back on that definition, rewrite it, and encourage brands to focus on delivering winning, relevant experiences to their customers in the moment.

Part of the reason marketers are latching onto interbrand Twitter love fests is because it’s some of the only “in-the-moment” marketing they’re seeing. Why? Though 85% of marketers say it is fundamental, significant or important to their future business success to provide experiences that are responsive to customers based on real-time, in-the-moment behaviors, only 8% are doing it.

These figures come from a report we released on real-time marketing with Econsultancy. It’s an important piece of research since it helps illustrate what, exactly, real-time marketing is and how it benefits customers and brands alike.

To that end, I found these points to be pretty revealing:

  • Nearly half of those marketers surveyed consider real-time marketing to be “the ability to respond to consumer needs/behaviors in the same online session.”

  • 98% of respondents believe consumers increasingly expect brands to provide them with relevant information in any digital marketing channel.

  • Nearly three-quarters of those marketers surveyed see improved conversion rates as a main benefit.

Notice each talks to driving conversions through creating more relevant customer experiences at the moment of interaction? That’s the key tenet of real-time marketing.

You might have some reasons—culture, technology, talent—why it doesn’t fit your company. But that doesn’t need to be the case, and meeting your customers in the moment is probably closer to your reach than you think.

Of those companies who told us they are practicing real-time marketing, they’re evenly divided between the B2B and B2C verticals, and evenly distributed in terms of annual revenue, spanning less than $1.6 million to more than $1.6 billion.

And their efforts are paying off. On average, these brands are reaching their customers at their moments of inspiration and reporting a 26% lift in their conversion rates.

Why, then, would we be willing to sit by and let others refer to real-time marketing as something it’s not? Let’s start talking about it in terms of its full capabilities. I think that’ll push brands to deliver better experiences to their customers and achieve better results for themselves.

The Time is Now image courtesy of Shutterstock.