superbowl real time marketingWith the Seattle Seahawks’ victory on Sunday, it’s been a full year since Super Bowl XLVII. That means a full year since Beyonce’s half-time show, a full year since the bowl-wide blackout, and a full year since Oreo brought the phrase “real-time” into the mainstream.

The classic cookie company seized on the unplanned electrical outage to tweet a similar image: an Oreo on a black background with the words “You can still dunk in the dark.” Last year, I wrote a Rapleaf blog post about how quickly the tweet went viral, and how it heralded a new age of real-time marketing, especially at mass media events. Since then, my predictions haven’t exactly come true. Many consumer companies have attempted to recreate Oreo’s incredible real-time viral touchdown (Spirit Airlines’ eccentric Royal Baby email comes to mind) but none have gotten the same response.

Is Real-Time More Than Just A Fad?

So does real-time marketing live up to the hype? Or is it another empty buzzword gone the way of the dodo? The answer is a little more complicated than yes or no.

Real-time social media marketing may still be getting its sea legs, but over the last 12 months, the power of real-time has been on the rise in another area of the business world: e-tail.

e-Tail: Customer Service in Real-Time

Researchers from three top U.K. business schools have found using real-time customer data in the e-tail delivery process improved customer service and boosted profits up to 4 percent. Their data-driven online shopping process uses internal and external data like delivery preferences and age to predict when people want their purchases delivered and how much they’ll pay for shipping.

In the past, many shops and stores would require their customers to fill out a customer survey to identify these preferences and customize the retail experience. Now with real-time data, Internet retailers can provide the service their customers want immediately and without hassle.

Email: First Impressions in Real-Time

Another real-time use case that is taking off is in email personalization. We’ve all gotten a stock response email from an online company after signing up for a website or making a purchase. However, companies like Amazon and LivingSocial are using real-time data to power their email personalization engines and deliver relevant, engaging content from the very beginning of the customer relationship.

Email marketers only get one chance to make a first impression with their email campaigns. Many customers, myself included, will delete an email in seconds if it doesn’t engage. So that’s where real-time personalization comes in.

Even with basic customer demographics like gender and marital status, a savvy email marketer can set up automated emails that speak to their customers in real-time.

In a new survey by Listrak, 84 percent of online shoppers found it helpful when products featured in emails were relevant to their purchase history. Sixty-nine percent even reported they were willing to share more personal preferences and data if it meant receiving more relevant, personalized messages. Real-time data personalization is the difference between a boring welcome email in the trash and the beginning of a long, successful business-customer relationship.

From Trend to Tool

At lot has changed from Super Bowl to Super Bowl. Capitalizing on real-time pop culture relevance in social media might not be the key to a successful marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean the concept of “real-time” can get thrown out with the bathwater. As marketers continue to invest in more grounded “real-time” tools like automation and personalization, what once seemed like a blackout gimmick is becoming an essential tool for Internet and retail companies.

So regardless of whether we’ve dunked our last Oreo in the dark, it’s not too late to look into real-time data and analytics to improve your marketing. In e-tail, email and beyond, there’s no real time like the present.

Did you know TowerData offers its Validation and Data Enhancement services in real-time? Learn more about our API by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano