We were expecting breaking news on the American Elections. We sure as hell did not expect this – Our beloved PM Narendra Modiji announcing the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 Rupee notes
The impact it had was definitely BIG. It set the Twitteratis in a frenzy, with constant tweets, hilarious memes and endless opinions. The media house talked of it non-stop and everyone tried to understand the move – and how it affected them.
Thank you @Allindiabakchod – we definitely needed this meme.
What also happened is that a lot of brands capitalized on it! Big news – means Big Impact. And if you can use it to convert the audience to customers, well that is called successful real-time marketing! (News-jacking is similar and you can use news-jacking for successful content creation).
What made them successful though? Will it work for you as well? Well, that is what we are going to discuss here -so that next time such big news hits, you can be ready!
Real-time marketing hack #1 Be quick to respond
Big news also becomes old news quite fast. Though your audience may never stop talking about it, you get a very small window of opportunity, after which, your audience’s enthusiasm on that topic flags.
It is no longer interesting, and they in turn are no longer interested.
When the demonetization exercise was announced around 9:00 PM on the 8th Nov, the first response I noticed was by Paytm
Check out the time stamp on the post. It was a mere 3 minutes from when the news became public. It was quick, it was witty and it was loved by the Twitteratis.
They did not wait to come up with an offer. They did not wait to publish an indepth analysis. They got the news and they reacted – adding their two cents to the topic that had the attention of their audience. We have to give it to them folks – @Paytm totally nailed that one!
And let us not forget the brands that immediately followed. Box8 came up with a great offer that was started within the hour:
Oh, don’t get me wrong, a lot of other brands came up with offers as well – but by the time they rolled in, the public had serious offer ennui. For eg, consider this offer message I received:
It is still a nice offer, but the chances of me converting for that offer is pretty low. By then, I had already been inundated by a LOT of such messages and frankly, this one did not excite me in the slightest.
Better late than never is good. But with news-jacking, the later you deliver, the lesser your chances of converting.
Real-time marketing hack #2 Be prepared
Where real-time marketing is concerned, the unexpected always happens. You can expect one of three scenarios.
Big news happens; You use it to market your brand and then you expect to have happy customers and great engagement. And you get it! Your name is on Twitter for all the right reasons.
But hey, it can backfire as well. Consider what this brand went through – they had set up a nice offer, tweeted about it and were all set to receive customer praise. Unfortunately, a unhappy customer took them to task for failing to deliver on their offer (literally).
The saving grace here is that the brand anticipated an emergency and handled the situation. Whoever was monitoring social media then kinda saved the day.
This is the worst possible case. You have absolutely nothing to do with what is going on, but still get flamed. That is what this tweet is all about:
Ouch! Unfair isn’t it? Well, it can still affect your brand image and you need to do damage control.
Your audience are witty. They are clever (and sometimes mean). They can easily pull up your past boo-boos to have a good laugh. Remember to watch out for it and defend your brand accordingly.
Real-time marketing hack #3 Nail customer service
Ground breaking news almost always creates confusion. The prospect is left wondering about “Is your brand adopting the change too? How can I proceed then? Why can I not just use the old way? What should I do now?” etc.
In short, they do not know what to expect from you, which means it is upto you to set their expectation straight.
Short, simple and to the point. Uber announces their stance and gives you a work around as well. That means no unhappy consumer complaints and difficult negotiations. More importantly, the consumer is informed and no longer in a dilemma – a direct win for customer service.
Now could also be the time to win customer loyalty – by going the extra mile to provide great customer service.
For eg. this is the message I got from my bank the very next day:
As a customer, I appreciated their gesture no end. The simple forethought of changing their business operations to accommodate our needs was effective in ensuring brand loyalty. Yes, it costed them man hours and they probably did not get the ‘Best Employer’ award that day. But they sure did win a lot of good will from us customers!
Real-time marketing hack #4 Include traditional media
Focusing on your brand image and impact in the digital world does not mean that you can forget about the print media. The good old newspaper is still going strong and can reach a far wider audience than what you can imagine.
If the breaking news makes the most sense to you and can hugely impact your brand, then you should definitely make every effort you can to connect with your prospects across every channel.
The demonetization of the 500 and 1000 Rs notes directly impacted online transactions. More people abruptly shifted to digital wallets and depended more on electronic transactions. Players in this field like Paytm and FreeCharge of course took full advantage of the winds blowing their sails!
Less than 48 hrs after the announcement, the front and back page of The Times of India newspaper carried bold ads:
Notice how Paytm appreciates the PM for such a bold move – and doesn’t focus on self promotion on the first page. Having an image of the man behind such a huge reform immediately attracts attention and instantly set it apart from other ads.
Not to lose out on the mind-share, FreeCharge – another online payment app opted for full size advertisement as well.
In their ad, not only did they target the buyers, they spoke to the vendors as well – businesses that could not accept money and were not online yet. They articulated the problem of ‘needing cash’ for businesses and delivered a powerful message – to use their App! Kudos guys, great move!
Real-time marketing hack #5 Standout from competition
If you think you have noticed an opportunity, then rest assured that your competition has as well and is working as hard as you are to capitalize on it.
In this case, it behooves you to introduce a differentiating factor in your ads so that you get noticed. Like I already mentioned, the demonetization announcement opened up a slew of offers being thrown at the public. However, two copies caught my attention:
The first one was this Ola ad. the first page is the usual life-size offer proclaimed because of the circumstances.
The second page however educated the audience on how exactly to start using Ola Money. It was actionable, it provided an incentive to join and also highlighted multiple other advantages of moving to Ola Money. In short, it provided a complete conversion package.
Imagine an average citizen who does not have Ola Money yet and is deeply affected by the demonetization recall. This ad directly speaks to him! Since a lot of the audience who subscribe to the print media fit the exact profile of the above mentioned average citizen, they scored a definite win right there!
The age old way to hasten conversion is by making the process as simple as possible. Quick, hassle free and least effort guarantees better conversion rates. Here is an ad that used these aspects to differentiate itself – FreeCharge.
Check out this screenshot I took while clicking a picture of their ad in the newspaper:
Notice the highlighted URL on top? Well the end of the page has a scanning code that when scanned by your mobile automatically gives you a URL to download the App. That means, no searching on GooglePlay and installing. The minute you read the Ad and you are convinced about it, you can whip out our phone and instantly install. Great way to boost conversions!
Real-time marketing hack #6 Be relevant
Have you noticed a common thread in all the ads above? They addressed a common problem, yes (that arose because of the big, breaking news). But they also framed their headlines and their ad language in such a way that the reader can immediately make the connection as to how the product could solve their problem. “Cash”, “Note”, “Unwanted” etc were a recurring theme that the reader could immediately identify with.
Using such relevant language in regular offers can improve the conversion rates of your ads. So when I got these two emails in my Inbox today, I had no doubt that they were referring to the demonetization issue at hand.
The highlighted text show you that they have kept their offers very pertinent to the situation at hand – without referring to it directly!
So, I have one more example to talk about when it comes to relevancy and I promise you that it is equally interesting.
While this breaking news was happening in India, across the pond, a monumental election was taking place. Yes, I mean the one in America.
Since we do not make political comments here, I shall reel myself in with a herculean effort and instead talk of this:
Good move Uber!
And I am sure you realize the obvious – this offer would not have made a lick of sense in India or in any other country for that matter. Remember that the news you want to base your offer on may have global consequences, but it’s immediate effects are still geographically limited. To translate, even if the whole world was talking about the US elections, having an offer anywhere but inside the US would not have been relevant at all.
So, what real-time marketing efforts have you come across? Do you have more to add? Comment and let me know!