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4 Real-Time Engagement Strategies

(Posted on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:52AM )

This year’s Super Bowl was proof of the opportunities available to marketers to engage consumers during live events. In fact, during the Super Bowl, AT&T’s data usage almost doubled from 388 GB in 2013 to 624 GB this year, and Verizon reported an 800% surge. Consumers stay glued to their mobile phones at all times during real-time events, earning their position as a key place to grab and/or maintain attention through interactive mobile campaigns.

real time engagementWhile large, well-known events are the bright and shiny object of real-time event engagement opportunities, there are numerous other options available that can be just as effective at building quality relationships with consumers. Think: in-store promotions, restaurants, internal conferences and more. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these engagement tactics. Each company, its objectives, goals and audiences needs to be evaluated in order to ensure positive results.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when planning your next live-event or real-time engagement campaign.

1. Commit. This isn’t a one-time thing.

The success of real-time engagement is contingent upon it not being a one-time effort. Live events and other real-time experiences should serve as a jumping off point or part of an overall plan for year-round engagement and consumer interaction. If it’s a one-time activation, you risk losing the connection that you just put time, effort and—if its a landmark event—a lot of money into.

A brand that’s rocking real-time engagement at live events is the Country Music Association (CMA). In 2013, CMA Music Festival organizers, and its website, encouraged attendees to sign up for mobile alerts so they could get access to seat upgrades, stage change notifications, chances to win VIP experiences and priority seating in 2014. Festival marketers can use this text data to interact with attendees, see which bands/artists received the most interest, and update fans on plans for the upcoming festival this year to encourage repeat attendance.

2. Make it strategic.

Marketing strategies to engage consumers during real-time experiences need to align with your company’s overall business goals and objectives. While live events and real-time engagement can be fun ideas that make a “splash,” you need to make sure these strategies strategically align with your company’s plans for customer engagement and will provide positive results toward the big picture. So, if your aim is to drive traffic to your website, make sure the mobile call-to-action encourages site visits. If you’d like to increase your company’s social media following, then make sure the campaign or promotion lives on social media channels and encourages interaction on those channels.

After seeing a huge increase in mobile usage and interaction in 2013, Mellow Mushroom, an Atlanta-based pizza chain, wanted to create a way to engage with customers in-restaurant. In partnership with Coca-Cola, Mellow Mushroom created a “Spin the Coke Bottle” game to not only capitalize on the real-time interaction opportunity but to also drive sales. This campaign was an in-restaurant, mobile experience where guests scanned a tabletop QR code to interact with their tablemates via a series of playful conversation starters and trivia questions, centered on music. During the promotion period, guests also received a 10-character Mellow Mushroom code when they purchased a qualifying Coca-Cola product at the restaurant. Each code earned a sweepstakes entry toward a VIP trip to the 2013 American Music Awards and LiveNation Concert Cash.

3. Choose your social channels wisely.

A challenging task for real-time engagement can be deciding which social media channel to use for a campaign. Instagram and Twitter are often popular choices for live events because of their frequent-post culture and the ability to easily follow unique hashtags. When choosing a social media channel, brands need to ask themselves and do research into where their target audience is most active. If your target audience mostly uses Facebook, and you have a contest available only on Instagram, you risk reducing interaction opportunities because a consumer isn’t active on the channel you chose. With that in mind, this is why multi-channel capabilities are always a best bet for submission-based campaigns.

Ever order the five try-on glasses frames from Warby Parker? The primarily online retailer allows customers to select five frames to have mailed to their home to try on for free—knowing you can’t possibly choose one frame from a large selection of styles and colors. If you need a second opinion on which glasses to choose, you can reach out to the brand via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with pictures in the different glasses to receive quick advice on the pair you should go with. Warby Parker offers this service on a variety of social media channels to allow customers to interact where they prefer.

4. Don’t think of mobile as a single entity.

Smartphones have ensured that consumers have almost the same capabilities on their mobile devices as they have on their tablets and desktop computers, which is why all campaigns should aim to deliver consistent, cross-channel functionality. For real-time engagement, mobile functionality is necessary to enhance and accelerate the communications cycle for the consumer—making the conversation occur right then. A best practice is to make sure your programs have consistent capabilities and interaction opportunities through mobile apps, browsers and messaging to make it as easy as possible for customers to engage with your brand.

Live events and real-time engagement is an under-utilized tool for marketers. While brands can span across a variety of activation opportunities, there is a major opportunity for large and small brands alike to create a real-time, interactive experience for their customers. Take a look at your company’s goals, objectives and strategies for the year, and see where a real-time experience could increase the success of one, or more, of your tactics this year.

By Aron Clark

Aaron Clark is vice president of mobile sales and operations at HelloWorld (formerly ePrize).

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