Here, the report author Jeff Rajeck offers his thoughts on this topic and provides more details about what is covered in the study.

Briefly, what is real-time marketing?

Well, first off, it’s not just about a well-timed tweet or other reaction to a real-time event. Instead, real-time marketing involves taking in real-time input from a customer and delivering a highly personalised, relevant and timely message back to them.

It can be as simple as telling a customer that their preferred bank branch is open or as complex as delivering product offers based on location, previous purchases and available stock.

So how does real-time marketing differ from other marketing?

Well, in some ways all of our marketing is moving to real-time marketing.

Previously, campaigns were planned events that would be crafted for certain demographics and then launched in the hopes that they would work.

Now people are much more programmatic in their approach to marketing. Campaign results are evaluated frequently and changes made when the various metrics (CPC, CPA) are not good enough.

But to move to the next level, to real-time marketing, we need to move away from manually interfering and instead design our campaigns to react automatically the ‘input factors’ available to us.

Input factors are simply the data points about a customer at the moment they are in contact with the brand. Things like who they are personally, where they are, what have they done with us as a brand previously which can be interpreted by our marketing engine to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Sounds complicated – is there an easy way to get started?

I’ve made a few suggestions in the report, but one of the easiest ways brands can start to think about real-time marketing is to implement a mobile ad programme.

How well they work is, of course, brand-specific, but what’s interesting is that the marketer can use input factors they’ve never had before, geo-location, time of day, device, even what app the user is in, and try to craft the right message for all of those circumstances.

With self-service, pay-as-you-go mobile ad platforms available, you can try it out at a very low cost. It’s actually pretty fun to do and very illuminating.

How are brands using real-time marketing today?

A lot of real-time marketing involves mobile: advertising, mobile websites and apps. But brands are also doing real-time marketing through social media. Both Nokia and Singtel devised campaigns to interact with people in real time on social media,  and Nokia then amplified that content through mass media.

Overall the examples in the report show that marketers are not only trying to deal with their customers in real time, but they are also ‘loosening the reigns’ on their brand and letting real conversations become a part of their marketing.

Does it work?

In order to gauge how effective real-time marketing is, in the report we look at the difference between companies who use real-time personalisation and those who do not.

Briefly, the ones who use real-time personalisation have a 4x response rate from website offers, a 500% increase in click-through rate and a 400% increase in revenue per impression from personalised emails.

And I think this makes sense intuitively. If a brand can offer you a more relevant, more personalised experience aren’t you likely to buy more from them?

Any final thoughts?

Though most of the paper is about real-time marketing here and now, I do like to look to the future. I’m fascinated by the potential of marketing to transcend demographics and instead draw on all available information to deliver a unique experience for individual customers.

We’re a long way off, but there are some promising technologies coming to help us out.

So, my final thought is that it’s crucial to keep up on the technology because it’s the new data points, new algorithms and new platforms that will give us, the marketers, our competitive edge!