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To get the most out of your next digital campaign, check out the industry's latest, greatest marketing pursuits in real-time scenarios.

The Best Real-Time Marketing Campaigns We’ve Seen—And What We Can Learn From Them

David Bosley

In a digital landscape defined by seamless engagements, defining real-time branding is tough, indeed. This said, the intricacies involved aren’t necessarily created by the dynamics of ‘real-time event planning, itself. Instead, they’re happily considered, by many, to be over-packed with options.

Don’t worry, though, because in-the-moment audience outreach isn’t without effective frameworks of reference. Because real-time marketing is all about teaming up with consumers, it’s a lot more accessible than one might think.

All the same: Some real-time campaigns are just built for sweeping success.

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What makes a real-time marketing event spontaneous? Today's marketers are constantly adapting to new tech trends, but some have proven its possible to lead the trends, themselves.

Understandably, real-time marketing needs to be conducted at the right time—and especially the right place: Mobile marketers still might refer to 2016’s Pokémon Go when seeking local audience impact. And even the 2013 Super Bowl’s blink-of-an-eye, lights-out marketing event for Oreo is referred to as one of the business world’s most daring, experiential events:

A major cornerstone of today’s “anything is possible” mantra—knowing fewer barriers, in terms of consumer communication, than ever before. In the spirit of its all-but-household name, real-time marketing is called ‘RTM,’ these days. Its core hasn’t changed, but its iterations of action have: In the past, real-time events could be ‘passively’ experiential—existing as more atmospheric engagements, as opposed to the staccato of today’s persistent (but nonetheless exciting) outreach events.

One: Taco Bell’s Twitter Storm

And this really is wonderful to see, as it’s introduced new, refreshing avenues for the web-weary and network-wary alike. A great example, here, is Taco Bell: It’s become impressively, and even a little frighteningly, responsive on Twitter in the past year—interacting with users almost twice per hour.

Only, this isn’t entirely true.

We’ll say this: The whole  truth about Taco Bell’s Tweeting is, probably, one of the best ways to look at modern real-time marketing. Evident immediately in Taco Bell’s engagements, and remaining persistent throughout, was a resounding quality in today’s digital echo chambers: Real human response.

This isn’t to say every brand over-relies on real-time AI to engage its customers. Nor to suggest that AI-guided consumer services are even bad. Taco Bell, simply put, just broke modern ‘brand formality—‘but reasserted that it can, and maybe should, be done on a consistent basis. It’s made every consumer encounter a priority, going so far as to create a pop-up hotel to—more or less—just hang out with its target market. While no initiative is pursued without mutual investment in one’s brand as a whole, the franchise’s choice of timing really does paint a more laid-back picture.

It’d just celebrated its sweeping, $1-million-per-day, success internationally: The critical acclaim of its Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme. And, of course, the purple bell’s subsequent (and sudden) resolve to shout from Twitter’s virtual rooftops about its love of burritos. Tacos, too, of course—despite being a franchise spontaneously averse to derivatives. Another dish undoubtedly entered the mix, of course, further affirming that Taco Bell, really, wasn’t concerned about peak Internet marketing hours.

And thus it was known, by nearly 1.9 million Tweeters, before the day’s end : Burritos, tacos— “AND CHALUPAS.”

Two: 5G RuralFirst, Cisco and Me+Moo

It’s rare to see a B2B-centric marketing initiative about smartphones. And yet Cisco and 5G RuralFirst remain strong industry enactors well-worth a lookup. As a Cisco consortium, 5G RuralFirst initially stirred up their network with 5G ‘test sites’ revolving around a Harvard-developed app: Me+Moo.

Me+Moo, essentially, is a B2B connection app for IoT health monitoring. This extends well beyond literal health monitoring, too, despite initial test-runs understandably taking to smartwatches, synched steps-per-minute apps and a number of other mobile innovations geared towards overall device health.

As for the ‘moo’ part: Me+Moo was a major hit due to its sincere marketing alone: Its creators spoke at major publications to promote digital and professional network health alike. Following several notable appearances across The New York Times, CNN and BBC Radio, the Me+Moo app landed a spot on the B2B Marketing Awards Shortlist of 2019.

Impressively sporting Best-Of awards for creative tech usage—the Me+Moo design’s relevancy would only skyrocket higher—winning another award in the Best Use of Content Marketing area. There’s plenty to be said for an IoT-centric mobile creation both adaptable and comprehensive enough to benefit administrative networks. But there’s even more to say when the same tech creation surpasses the regular spread of digital trinkets to roll out, every year.

Me+Moo has proven itself to be a wonderful mobile app in any regard, but its biggest victory, reportedly, was its resounding message about expanding IoT environments.

Three: Wendy’s and the Nugget Network Boom

We’ve certainly seen impressive customer and affiliate care trends, in recent years: Businesses have always cared for their consumers, and they’re only getting better at showing it. And yet some brands garner as much success by going in the opposite direction: Opting for a target market of one, singular person.

One of the biggest lessons real-time marketing offers is one of not only quick response—but a caring one, too. Wendy’s has been one of America’s top fast-food chains for many years, and it’s no stranger to burger-based events, community outreach initiatives and then some. One initiative, however, remains a defining marketing memory for many of us. A youth named Carter Wilkerson, as a particularly proud chicken nugget fan, posed a question to Wendy’s. Similar to Taco Bell, a rapid response was made—yet it certainly took a different direction.

After asking Wendy’s how many Retweets could earn one year’s worth of free chicken nuggets, Wendy’s promptly reached out in return—extending a handshake in the public Tweet, itself. The answer was a simple, polite, “18-million.” Despite presumptions immediately raised about Wendy’s social media marketing team, Wendy’s had apparently prepped for such an occasion: It helped Carter reach his own goal, boosting the already viral video to new heights—and well into the realm of digital affiliates.

This is especially cool due to the frequent partnership barriers between large corporations and independent, yet nonetheless effective, YouTube entrepreneurs. It was incredibly rare—and still is—to see these communicative walls willingly dismantled, pic by pic. In several weeks, a number of celebrities joined the fray to assist Carter’s quest. Then, Amazon joined in—followed by Microsoft, Apple Music and even the digital world’s foundational leader, itself: Google. Real-time marketing events needn’t require massive monetary investments, covering sweeps and bounds in local advertisement pursuits.

Social media is always a winning platform of engagement, catering to ideal target markets in a single moment’s notice. At the same time, the business world’s most impactful providers have reminded many that, sometimes, even a single Tweet’s apparent spontaneity is anything but.

Four: #LifeInsideDropbox

Dropbox has always catered towards young professionals, but we can’t forget its significant impact on small businesses. This real-time marketing event focused on employee engagement, sharing its own company culture alongside the immediately popular #LifeInsideDropbox hashtag.

While Dropbox’s tech-savviness served its multimedia marketing initiative well—even the most relevant digital providers can boost their brand’s impact in little to no time at all. Dropbox held its employee featurettes for a good amount of time, then closing ay gaps between visual media consumption and social network action in an even more unique way.

It steered towards the daily dreams, inspirations and achievements of each member of the Dropbox family, all the while upholding external user engagement paramount. Each episode took a focus on the different layers of authenticity one might find in their office—even if it’s a more individualistic one. In a lot of ways, Dropbox is one of the few providers to create such an occasion, touching upon the dynamics of cloud computing, remote work, digital security and then some.

In celebration of its employees’ recent endeavors and achievements, Dropbox’s campaign concluded with a multimedia-rich LinkedIn finale—one highlighting the brand’s involvement within the Grace Harper Celebration.

Sometimes, the most impactful digital campaigns engage users with little fiscal investment—exchanging it for deeper consumer relations, instead.

Whether as a networking utility or a fanbase outreach initiative, real-time marketing is one of the most cost-efficient pursuits around: Sometimes, the most groundbreaking, crowd-raising experiences only require a brief, digital summoning on Twitter, or LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook. This is a notable shift from traditionally ‘intra-platform’ experiences, one which opts to go dive, full force, into everything online networks have to offer.

So, just remember: While critical target market links might reside in cross-market scenarios, there’s something to be said for completely digital outreach campaigns. Multichannel deployment is more popular than ever, it seems, within business networks well-versed in the modern consumer’s appreciation of the physical world. And yet recent innovations have proven that, while physical in design, the most successful real-time campaigns are simply those which pursue integrity.