These days, marketing to people based on their real-time context is all the rage. However, although real-time contextual marketing can drive strong results, marketers need to think carefully about whether it's right for their business.

Not all organizations may be a fit for real-time contextual marketing—but many are. How do you know if it's right for your business?

It's key to understand that real-time contextual marketing isn't just one "thing." A variety of content can be triggered based on five primary real-time "pillars," and within each lie multiple opportunities for using real-time content:

  1. Geolocation: live weather forecast targeting, live maps, temperature, location-based offers
  2. Time: countdown timers, time-of-day/week/month messages, expiring offers/discounts, social feeds, breaking news
  3. Device: embedded video, app download buttons, mobile deep-linking
  4. Language: alternate-language hero image, multilingual articles or ads
  5. Performance: real-time creative/offer testing, with winners chosen dynamically based on click or conversion metrics

For example, an airline might be especially sensitive to real-time offers based on time-of-day since airfares change so frequently, but it might be less so to social context as a business driver. A consumer packaged goods brand might be more sensitive to social context, but less so to time-based offers or device-targeted messaging.

If your business is not sensitive to timed offers, social relevance, weather, mobile usage, or the geolocation of your openers, real-time contextual marketing may not be the best fit.

If, however, your business is a good candidate for sharing such content with your prospects and customers based on their real-time context, the following five best-practices should help drive success for your program.

1. Determine the quick wins and test iteratively

Often, it's best to start with real-time content that's easy to implement and which also delivers the highest expected value to the business. A good partner can sometimes help to identify these likely "quick win" candidates.

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image of Justin Foster

Justin Foster is a co-founder and the VP of market development for Liveclicker, a technology company focused on creating rich customer experiences for leading brands across email and the Web.

LinkedIn: Justin Foster