How Real Is Real Time Marketing?

According to a new study by Wayin, the 2015 Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report, based on a survey of 200 manager and executive-level real-time marketers from companies with more than $100 million in revenue, 64% of real-time marketers have leveraged breaking news on social media in the past year. That number increases to 78% for brands seeing an ROI of at least 50% on their real-time marketing investment, compared to only 57% for brands with an ROI of less than 50%.

Consumer-generated social media conversations and content have become more important for marketers as social media becomes more prevalent in the communication habits of daily life. However, though marketers believe that real-time marketing needs to be almost immediate, and understand where it is providing value across a number of broader business goals, most still feel that they are lacking the resources to use consumer-generated content in real time and in a meaningful way, says the report.

The majority of marketers surveyed indicated that for marketing efforts to be “real time,” they believe a brand must be able to react to an event or action within minutes. Real-time marketing, in terms of response time, is defined by respondents as:

  • 49% Within Minutes 
  • 26% Within Seconds 
  • 18% Within Hours 
  • 8% Within Days

More than half of marketers cite building customer relationships, event promotion and content strategy among the top reasons they currently use real-time marketing. Other highly cited goals include increasing social media engagement and reach, complementing e-commerce strategy and identifying new customer and audience segments.

Value Of Real-Time Marketing To Achieve Business Goals


% of Respondents

Form customer relationships


Promote events


Complement existing content


Increase social media engagement and reach


Complement e-commerce strategy


Identify new customers and audience segments


Identify brand advocates and influencers


Complement website SEO strategy


Increase time spent on-site


Analyze sentiment


Source: Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report, June 2015.

While marketers have high hopes for their real-time marketing efforts, most still face budgetary and resource restraints when it comes to the use of social media data to power real-time marketing efforts. Marketers rank limited budget and resources as their biggest challenge, followed by slow staff response time and lack of search and analytics tools. Very few indicated that nothing is standing in their way. 

Marketers Understand The Value Of Real Time, But Still Report Major Challenges


% of Respondents

Limited budget or resources


Staff can’t respond quickly enough


Lack of search analytics tools


Lengthy content creation process


Lack of real-time data and insights


Lack of knowledge or strategy


Organizational resistance


Source: Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report, June 2015.

The majority of marketing efforts leveraging content created or shared by customers is isolated to social channel response, but marketers are also employing approaches to integrate this content across other brand channels. Some responses to relevant social content created by customers include: 

  • Respond on social media sites themselves (60%) 
  • Display at live events in real time (52%) 
  • Brand health analytics for informing messaging (50%) 
  • Incorporate into advertising or marketing campaigns (49%) 
  • Display it on your website or other owned channel (46%) 
  • Incorporate it into product recommendations (31%) 

Source: Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report, June 2015.

Despite the agreed need for improvements, there are some areas marketers are seeing high returns, says the report. Just over a third of real-time marketers are seeing a revenue return on investment of over 50%, with most indicating that they’re seeing somewhere between 25 and 50%. Furthermore, most say they are able to tie their efforts to overall business goals, and just over 40% said their ability to do so was excellent.

Revenue ROI Experienced From Real-Time Marketing

Revenue Increase

% of Respondents









Over 100%


Source: Wayin Real-Time Marketing Report, June 2015.

In summary, the report shows these key findings:

Only 4% of marketers can respond to breaking news and events on social media in less than a minute, despite the fact that 26% define real-time marketing as happening within seconds. 46% of real-time marketers say they can’t respond to breaking news within 30 minutes, while 24% say it takes them an hour or more.

Overall, 93% of real-time marketers say they need to respond to trending social media content more quickly to improve their real-time marketing efforts. The study shows that 98% of marketers report a positive return on their real-time marketing investments. In addition to responding to breaking news on social media more often, leaders that experience ROI of at least 50% stand out for several other reasons:

  • 52% of ROI leaders allocate more than 60% of their marketing budgets to real-time tactics making them more than four times as likely to do so as laggards (12%).
  • 63% of ROI leaders are nearly twice as likely to say they feel they have the technology in place to effectively practice real-time marketing, compared to laggards (35%), when it comes to the ability to search, analyze and act on social media content.
  • 35% of real-time marketers have five or more team members devoted to responding to breaking news, trends and events. But more than a quarter of ROI laggards (28%) have two or fewer team members devoted to real-time marketing, compared to 14% of leaders.
  • The study also found that 59% of survey respondents plan to increase their real-time marketing budgets in the next year, and 66% say they will increase social media spend specifically.

Jordan Slabaugh, vice president of marketing at Wayin, says “… the best brand marketers… looking to social media to find real-time, consumer-generated moments …to power more informed and engaging campaigns… it’s paying off… ”

Real-time marketers believe they’re using existing resources with success, but many feel they can still do more. Most have responded to timely news or planned events at least once in the past year, but rarely are they doing so regularly. Most marketers are using traditional listening tools, but they lack the ability to search and analyze customer-generated content in real time. While they’ve invested a significant budget portion for real-time efforts, the majority feel the need to invest even more, concludes the report.

To access the complete report from Wayin in PDF form, please visit here



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