Marketing has had to become less planned and much more reactive.

As the consumer lifestyle becomes increasingly ‘always-on’ thanks to our multiple devices and improvements in connectivity, the more we demand rapid and personalised responses from companies we engage with.

Those same consumers are also business people; the always-on lifestyle means that for many of us, we're also 'always-at-work'. Business purchasers can be connected at any time, and make decisions at any time. This means that 'real time' is becoming a practical requirement, no matter what’s being sold or in what environment.

Our brand new B2B Real-Time Marketing Report, in association with Monetate, aims to discover what real time means in B2B markets. The findings hopefully provide a some insight for assessing plans for this year and beyond.

In the full report you will learn: what real time means to B2B customers, how real time is benefitting B2B audiences, the variables of real-time marketing and its associated technology and data. Also the budgets, resources and skills necessary for success in real-time marketing

The report follows on from our previous survey, 2014’s Real Time Marketing Survey Report, where Econsultancy and Monetate surveyed nearly 900 B2C marketers. This time the focus has been narrowed to B2B marketers.

Here's a summary of three key trends identified in the report:

1. Marketers will have to define the speed of 'real-time' according to consumer desire.

More than a third of respondents (35%) said that real time means the ability to respond to customers in the same online session, i.e. within a minute or two. 11% of respondents however took 'real time' perhaps too literally and defined it as the ability to respond in less than a second.

This instantaneous response is certainly unrealistic within the hands of a mortal human, so clearly any response such as this would have to be the work of marketing automation.

Personalisation, empathy and speed are all absolutely integral to getting real-time exactly right, so is the correct use of available data. Technological solutions must be deployed to automate at least a base-level response, be it email, SMS or through search marketing, however a human interaction must occur soon after.

2. Customers increasingly expect marketers to provide relevant information and products in every digital channel

More than 80% of respondents agreed that customers expect them to provide ‘relevant information/products/etc. in any digital marketing channel.’ Customer expectations are that they should be provided with information that’s relevant to themselves, the device, the context and the moment.

The ability of customers to find the information they want, when they want it is cannot be underestimated. This variety of information creates complications, particularly for B2B customers. When a decision to purchase is ready, there often needs to be a dialogue with sellers and thanks to 'always-on, always-connected' digital world, B2B consumers now expect this to be fast and personalised for efficiency. B2B companies need to adapt to this, and quickly.

3. B2B adoption of real time will be slow and steady

Respondents were asked the question: are you planning to develop marketing capabilities around using real-time data?

43% of B2B companies are currently carrying out marketing around real-time data or have budgeted plans to do so. It's an encouraging figure, plus only 28% of B2B companies either don't hold it as a priority or don't have a plan. 

Data is massively important, and the true power of real time is in the marketer’s ability to know when the customer is interested and to deliver a personalised message just at the right moment. To make this work, companies must have the infrastructure, skills, technology, and culture in place, and this can be a costly, time-consuming exercise. B2B is a world where decisions are made carefully, with multiple makers, so it's understandable that full adoption of real time as a strategy won't happen overnight.

Download the full B2B Real-Time Marketing Report for further insight.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 8 September, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Good article, but I can't agree with the lead sentence.

In my experience, being more reactive takes *more* planning, not less, because to react quickly you need to have planned for scenarios in advance and have collateral ready to use.

One simple example is with email marketing. It's good planning to include a slot for open-time content in your bulk emails. Normally this can be used for product recommendations formatted at open-time - making your email more effective because it's promoting products that are in stock when the email is read.

But if you accidentally make a mistake in the body copy of one of these emails, you can be reactive and display a "stop press" correction in the slot, even in emails that have already been sent. Better planning leads to a better reaction.

almost 4 years ago


Verity Kennard

Hi Christopher,

Really enjoyed this post, useful insights into customers expectations of how their data should be presented to them. Totally agree with what you're saying about marketing automation, we at StitcherAds believe this to be rooted in Facebook. We've blogged about real-time reporting here and would love to hear your thoughts.


almost 4 years ago

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