How Real-Time Marketing is Connecting Brands with their Customers.


Real-time marketing (RTM) is where brands interact directly with their target audience in the right place at the right time based on ‘live’ information or events, usually through social media or email marketing. This form of marketing is instant and allows for a more personalised approach that is highly targeted with messages that are more likely to convert.

In this piece, I’ll explore the effect RTM is having on the industry and how four brands are already hitting the nail on the head when it comes to optimising the customer experience online.

Ever since Oreo’s heroic real-time reaction to the 2013 Superbowl Blackout, brands have been scrambling to make sure their digital teams are nimble enough to stay relevant by engaging with customers and using the right content at the right time. But how did Oreo manage it... Luck?

Nope. It was quick thinking by their then agency, it was easy to get live because they had the right people in the room at the time and the team saw an opportunity but if it wasn’t for this, the tweet, which has since been cited as one of the most buzz-worthy adverts of the event, might never have happened!

So how can we be sure we’re making the most out of every opportunity?

Oreo’s throw in the dark really wasn’t just about being in the right place at the right time but about the team’s swift reactions. You can’t ‘make it happen’ but you do need to be ready when it does and this means being creative, accurate and most importantly quick; the faster you react the bigger the impact.

So how can you keep your ear to the ground without living in a social media hole? Listen to your audience. There are so many tools out there that allow you to track discussions about your brand, current events or even topics that you’re interested in, that way when a brand or user mentions one of these, you can jump straight on it and qualify the opportunity ahead of your competitors.

Another brand that’s always listening is KitKat, their Twitter is renowned for funny quips at current events with the most memorable being their reaction to Apple’s #BendGate dilemma back in 2014, the Tweet racked up even more likes and retweets than Oreo’s Superbowl response!

It’s impossible to foresee these events, they’re unexpected BUT you can anticipate others that are scheduled or that you are at least are aware of. Events such as a movie premiere, the birth of the Royal baby or political events can be predicted exactly or at least estimated. We’re seeing more and more brands considering these events as part of their RTM strategy, because whilst you might not be able to prepare for the exact outcome, you can ensure that your marketing team has prepared content for every possible eventuality and that these are poised and ready to go when required.

RTM aims to connect brands with current and potential customers through trending topics via social, however, it’s important for brands to maintain consistency with their general values and industry interests. Quality of message is so important and making sure that your reactions are reflective of your overall brand image is crucial if you want to make the right impression, otherwise, risk making the complete opposite.

For ASOS this opportunity arose when one girl Tweeted about a rude message she’d received on her outfit from a potential Tinder date. Needless to say, Twitter was enraged and the Tweet went viral. This gave ASOS the platform to stand up in the name of body-positivity and the retail brand didn’t disappoint; they made her the official model for the dress in question, biting back at the shameful comments whilst ensuring their brand image is one that is aligned with female empowerment.

But how do brands that aren’t gifted with glorious viral opportunities do to keep in the loop and at the forefront of current events? Well, like Google, some have to make their own RTM wins. Earlier in the year, Marvel fans were going crazy in the run-up to the release of Avengers: End Game and Google jumped on the Gauntlet by ensuring that every time users searched for “Thanos” via their search engine they would see a small infinity gauntlet in the top right corner of the knowledge panel. When users clicked on it, half the search results disappeared. The result? Buzz for Google and their almighty greatness. Major news outlets and blogs from to Unilad wrote about it and everyone who talked about Marvel or Thanos that week also talked about Google.

If movie premieres and current political events are topics your brand would like to steer clear of, there are other ways of getting involved in the real-time marketing hype. For Global brewery, Carlsberg, this was to stand up in the name of environmental protection and more specifically marine life. They recently launched a new way to keep their 6-pack of beers together that doesn’t involve plastic in a bid to reduce waste that negatively affects the environment; supporting a global cause whilst showcasing a great brand message… a win-win for Carlsberg.

I hope this blog has helped you in your bid to align your brand with what’s going on in the world and has given you the insights you need to ensure your marketing team are at peak performance as they try to find their own real-time marketing opportunities!

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Naomi Harper
Head of Marketing & Communications
Naomi is the agency's Head of Marketing & Communications with a strong background in Public Relations, events, Marketing and Brand campaigns.

Naomi joined Sagittarius in January 2021 to deliver exceptional external brand experiences, engaging internal communications and to assist with the driving of sales and the developing of relationships with key strategic suppliers.


Naomi Harper

07 Aug 2019 - 5 minute read
share this

stay in the know, stay ahead.

Get the latest from the agency, including news, events and expert content.
explore services in the article
find out what we can do for you
read some of our case studies