We live in a world where customers want and expect to receive tailored, personalized service from brands 24/7.
No matter where they are in the world, polls show that 75% of smartphone users expect immediate information whenever they open a new tab, and 51% believe that businesses should be contactable at any time, from any place.
So what does this mean for brands that are looking to grow? That’s where an always-on marketing strategy can help.
What Is Always-on Marketing?
Also referred to as “continuous marketing activities,” always-on marketing is up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
By constantly being available to customers all over the globe, always-on marketing allows brands to build customer retention and acquisition throughout the individual customer life cycle.
Still confused? Think of it in comparison to a campaign:
- Campaign = “burst” marketing; hard sales and marketing push for a fixed amount of time.
- Always-on= “drip” marketing; consistent marketing effort that lasts indefinitely.
So how does it work?
The goal is to reach maximum visibility and persuasion for each individual customer by showing up at any possible moment.
Think paid search, SEO, or social media – your marketing team doesn’t need to be online at the exact moment a customer finds you and the opportunity for someone new to find out about your brand is always present.
Once a customer has reached the peak of the awareness stage thanks to your online ads or SEO work, you can move them through to a relationship nurturing phase with content and email marketing.
All of this can, and should, be automated, which means that you’ll need plenty of data to be successful.
Because always-on marketing is about the individual customer journey, focusing on dynamic personalization in marketing materials is crucial and should always be tested and improved upon.
Google calls this the “zero moment of truth”, where marketing actions are continuously driving and meeting customer demands in a never-ending loop.
There’s no “one size fits all” approach to always-on marketing and it often encompasses all aspects of your strategy, both in-store and online. The point is to be constantly available and accessible to your customers, wherever they are.
Why You Should Consider An Always-On Strategy
Always-on marketing is a big commitment but it’s worth it. Using automation allows you to personalize your marketing content in a new way and creates relevant brand touchpoints for every single customer.
You’ll be able to communicate with your audience faster, more often, and at the most relevant times to help move them through the sales funnel.
Automation also allows you to scale beyond the manpower of your current marketing team, creating a system for growth that’s low effort on your end, but seemingly high-touch for your customers.
Really, it’s advantageous for any size marketing team.
Always-on marketing allows you to gain momentum and awareness in the market year-round, as opposed to a campaign where you operate in cycles of ramping up and scaling back.
Instead, you can be more consistent with an always-on approach and funnel your team’s resources into supporting, sales-focused campaigns when you need them.
Why Do Brands Find Always-On Marketing Plans Challenging?
As with all things worth having and doing, always-on marketing isn’t easy. Here are a few common challenges.
Lack Of Data
It may seem obvious by now, but when you’re looking to implement an always-on marketing strategy, you need data. After all, what else are your automations going to run on?
To create the most relevant marketing materials, you need to know as much about your audience as possible. And that all comes from data. Without data to support you, your relevancy goes downhill rapidly.
Data is also vital for being able to test and optimize your work, an essential component of always-on marketing. Without this, you’re really just throwing work into the dark and hoping for the best, rather than crafting effective, well-planned, and strategic moves.
Lack Of Content
When you’re communicating with your audience on a more frequent basis, that means more content needs to be in the pipeline.
This is something that internal teams often struggle to do, particularly when they’re small and people are wearing several marketing hats at once and running a number of different channels alone.
Skills need to be reassessed internally before you decide to move forward with an always-on approach.
If necessary, you may need to bring in extra support with a new hire or through working with contractors in order to create the extra content that your strategy needs.
Lack Of Infrastructure
If systems aren’t talking to each other, valuable data can get lost along the way.
There’s nothing to fall back on if your infrastructure isn’t robust enough to handle all of the new data that you need to collect and be able to share it across your organization quickly and efficiently.
Software should, ideally, be able to recognize behaviors on an individual customer level and pass that information on to relevant points in the system, be it customer service, sales, or marketing.
This will help you to create highly-targeted and relevant chains of data and messaging that flow between all relevant departments.
Tips For Always-On Marketing Success
1. Start small.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your marketing strategy doesn’t need to be, either.
Start by focusing on the small details and experiences that your customers have with your brand each day and think about how these can all add up to your wider growth and success.
Create mini strategies that you can personalize based on customer segments. This is a great way to dip your toes into always-on marketing and start making use of some of your new data.
Take this opportunity to test, reflect, and relaunch at different points on a smaller scale than brand-wide and find out what works best for your customer base.
2. Think about where you can make connections.
Nothing about your marketing plan should operate in a silo. Think about where you can make connections between your platforms using an omnichannel approach.
The messaging needs to stay consistent and on-brand, but there’s nothing stopping you from taking the data that you already have and tying it to a different part of the customer experience.
For example, is there a way that you can take a mobile shopping or in-store experience for an individual customer and connect it to your email marketing?
You should also think about where you can make customer connection points. Remember, a holistic view can tell you much more than a fully segmented one. Use this data to come up with creative ways to appeal to your audience.
3. Plan for long-term success.
Every customer is unique, which means that everyone will have different expectations of your brand and their experience with you. You need to plan to meet those expectations continually and ways that make sense for each customer segment.
As with anything that involves high volumes of data, you should be willing to continually test and adjust your approaches, optimizing them as much as you can, based on the information you have to hand.
This isn’t a one-way street. Review customer behavior and feedback as often as possible and base your changes on the wants and needs of your most important audience.
The more you focus on building and nurturing your customer base, the greater loyalty they’ll have to your brand.
Although always-on marketing is a big ask for many businesses, the rewards that you can see from this type of approach can be lucrative and long-lasting.
It’s certainly an investment, but it’s worth it.
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Featured image: Shutterstock/William Potter