Here’s our take on where always-on activities fit into your marketing plan.
To start off, we think there’s room for both: for your holiday or seasonal campaigns AND building activities that are always-on and always available when your audience is looking for them. To us, this means creating an opportunity and content for always-on activities to have an every day impact on your business or brand.
Most importantly, it’s likely that this isn’t a radical shift for you, if you already have a content marketing strategy or if you follow inbound marketing principles. Always-on activities are just an additional way of using your data and insights to be customer- and service-first.
What is always-on marketing?
Always-on activities are a way to optimize your marketing efforts and encourage customer acquisition and retention. In fact, you likely already do some always-on marketing like paid social media ads that you have running all of the time.
Often, always-on activities include content or are part of your content marketing strategy. In addition to your typical content like written posts, ads, and social media, we see more and more businesses also including gamification in their marketing.
While some businesses use gamification as part of their timed marketing campaigns (campaigns with an end date), we’re seeing more often that businesses also keep their game campaigns running continuously or for at least a year. This enables them to engage with their audience and collect valuable data when it’s the right time for their audience.
According to recent research from Think With Google, 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate information while using their smartphone. Coupled with the fact that 51% of consumers believe that they should be able to reach a business at all times, this shows that we (consumers) expect answers instantly, whether that’s from our smartphone or a business’s customer service.
If it makes sense for your business, then always-on campaigns can create resources for your potential customers when they are looking for them.
Not just for B2C businesses
It’s easy to sometimes think that certain practices like always-on marketing might just be for B2C (business-to-consumer) and not B2B (business-to-business). But this way of thinking is a mistake because even in a B2B context, your customers still want their needs met when they are looking for something specific.
We like this explanation from MarTech Advisor: “The ‘always-on’ nature of B2B marketing has become a necessity to get, and keep, your message in front of target prospects throughout the buying process. If your message isn’t available to them BEFORE they’re ready to engage, you’ve probably missed your opportunity to get into the consideration set.”
What does this mean? Always-on content or activities means that you can engage with prospects during the consideration and/or search phase.
Questions to ask before you introduce always-on
1. Do we have access to first-party data?
We’ve always known that being closer to the customer and getting information straight from them was the ideal. We also know the way many marketers get data through third-party cookies will be changing for good and very soon.
So how will you get customer or audience data? One way to get closer to your audience (and gain first-party data) is through gamifying your marketing activities. We’ve seen that the value exchange is strong and that consumers are willing to share personal details when the experience is engaging and fun.
A major benefit of first-party data is that it increases relevance for your audience while increasing your ability to personalize.
2. Are we creating value from the first touch?
Customers are in control of when they interact with us and (of course) when they are ready to buy. It’s unlikely that you will win the sale or customer if they only come across your business or brand in the acquisition phase.
A post from the LinkedIn blog explains the solution perfectly: “Ideally, you’re creating constant value far earlier than the buying process when they’re simply researching and learning and educating themselves. You have to be ready not just on your own site and your own channels, but be available wherever they may be…. It’s all part of a buyer-centric, customer-centric marketing program.”
Alway-on activities can be a great solution for this. By thoughtfully designing a customer experience with always-on activities and/or content, marketers can be sure that they fit their customers needs.
3. Are we willing to iterate, test, adjust, and repeat?
As marketers, we must accept that our job is to be testing, analyzing, and adjusting. This applies to social media posts, brand positioning, gamification campaigns, and also always-on activities. To be successful, you must be willing to embrace revision so that you are providing the experience that your customers respond to and want.
What always-on means for marketers
Always-on means that you are ready to engage with your audience when they’re ready. It means having your campaigns and plans already in place, not launching campaigns in the traditional sense when your business is ready to reveal something new. Our big takeaway from this is: it’s not about when we’re ready to promote a campaign, it’s about when our audience is looking for that product or service.
We think always-on activities are a great practice for businesses because you build what your customers need or want that they can access when it’s the right time for them. Think of it sort of like always-on lead generation efforts. This also means that the activities can be online, in-store, or a mix of both.
The key to always-on activities is to be relevant right when your audience is looking for the product or service your business offers. But be sure to let the data be your guide.
Want to see how others are creating alway-on campaigns with gamification? Read this customer story with Ecooking.