How to plan for real-time marketing execution

Part one of this two-part series examined how organizations plot strategy for real-time marketing (RTM), based on "Real Time Marketing: The Agility to Leverage 'Now,'" research Altimeter Group recently published on the topic.

Once strategy is in place, it's time to turn to RTM execution, in particular enabling it to happen in a seamless, scalable way.

Assemble team and tools

Successful RTM requires that the right constituents be available, informed, educated, and empowered. Assemble the proper teams (i.e., social, creative, copywriting, legal, PR, etc.) and tools (i.e., listening, analytics, design, digital assets, publishing tools, etc.) to ensure streamlined execution. Multiple companies we interviewed underscored the importance of having a "war room," akin to a newsroom, where all team members are literally present and able to collaborate -- in real-time.

For unplanned, reactive RTM execution, the existing content hub or social media team takes the lead. Alternately, a pre-identified and trained virtual team leaps into action.

For anticipated events, a war room is often the hub, driving real-time approvals, design, triage, and publication. Even brands without 24/7 RTM teams can assemble trained and prepared teams for special events, as Oreo did for the Super Bowl.

For anticipated or planned events with content created in advance, assemble teams with regularly scheduled meetings to discuss event strategies and guidelines and identify areas of opportunity.

Establish triage

Scenario-based triage is one of the single most effective ways to streamline RTM execution. Certain cues or events trigger repeatable workflows. Community managers should be able to identify what types of language indicate threats or risks for the brand, and how and when to escalate them to legal, PR, or the appropriate team. When developing RTM content, consider how users may respond, then identify what warrants response and build workflows based on positive and negative interactions or needs. The more detail provided, the more teams accounted for, and the more scenarios planned for, the better.

Train and test all parties

A big part of operating in real-time is enabling key employees to feel trusted and empowered to act. This level of confidence is only achieved via education and training across all stakeholders -- not only those posting and responding but those creating, approving, distributing, and monitoring, both internally and externally (i.e., agencies and vendors). Training should include both strategic and tactical elements.

Training tools and testing will vary by organization based on resources and stakeholders. The goal of training and testing, however, is universal: to establish confidence for those executing and trust in them by all stakeholders, management, and the brand at large.

Identify analytics and KPIs

You don't know where you're going unless you know where you are. RTM measurement instructs the effectiveness of current efforts as well as pinpoints areas to explore more deeply. Listening should inform planning, targeting, and action, as outlined above. Analytics capabilities monitor performance and optimization. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for RTM by aligning them with overarching content strategy indicators.

Real-time analytics capabilities are also important to RTM to capitalize on every effort -- not just planned initiatives but more reactive ones as well.

Finally, performance measurement of real-time engagement, content, and activities should tie to, support, and help optimize the convergence of paid, owned, and earned media. RTM is an effective test bed for larger content initiatives and a support hub for triaging customers to owned properties or helpful content. RTM even provides clues or fodder for developing catchy ads and promotions. Measuring these efforts instructs where to invest time and resources across all brand assets.

Evaluate scale periodically

"But will it scale?" This is a very important question for RTM, particularly regarding staffing and customer channels. Enterprises must frequently (e.g., monthly or quarterly) assess and evaluate the scale of their RTM initiatives: headcount, talent, tools, roles, etc. Appropriately scaling RTM is complex, difficult, and cost-intensive, necessitating frequent reviews and assessments against business goals.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst, digital advertising/media, for Altimeter Group.

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