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Real time marketing requires real time listening.

The digital era has heralded an irreversible shift away from traditional campaigns to real time marketing - an approach powered by social media, which is rapidly evolving into a sophisticated set of capabilities around real time social listening.

This isn't just about listening to what customers are saying on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms. Rather, it's about engaging with them as these conversations happen:  responding, delivering content and making offers to them.

It is a sobering fact that more than 90% of consumers have discontinued communications with a company because they received irrelevant messages and promotions - according to an estimate by Forbes.

Content shared by prospects on social media, however, provides the key to addressing this.

Real time social listening offers invaluable insight into the tone of voice, format - video or infographics, for example - and platform that a business' content should use. And it can provide invaluable insight into competitors' content marketing strategies, too.

Yet, the challenge for many is perfecting the best social listening approach.

For while today's marketers acknowledge the importance of inbound marketing, a recent survey by Tomorrow People suggests 55% don't feel their content is achieving maximum ROI.

Worse, just 51% rate their own ability to provide content to customers and prospects appropriate for each stage of the buying process at 5 out of 10, or less with just 15% awarding themselves 8 out of 10 or more - according to a study carried out by Sales Force.

An estimated 60% of marketers were using social listening in 2013 and a further 24% plan to do so in 2014. Yet just 31% of marketers in the same study believe their social listening is fully effective.

To avoid this happening to your business, consider the following six steps to success covered in this eGuide: Listening in: How to use social tools to create content which convert