Always-On Marketing: Clearing the Confusion

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

This cliched response from comedians who fail to land a laugh is usually delivered tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes the non-reaction is so surprising though, the comedian wonders, “Did I really just whiff that hard? Or can they honestly not hear me?” There’s legitimate confusion.

When it comes to determining whether or not a content marketing program is “always on,” marketers are legitimately confused. In this post, we attempt to clear the confusion surrounding always-on marketing and provide a few getting-started tips for content marketing leaders striving to truly be “on” at all times.

What Is Always-On Marketing, Exactly?

Your website runs 24/7. Your content is available on-demand. If someone wants to scroll through your company’s social messages and download your ebook at 3 a.m., they can, and you can thank them while snoring. That’s always-on marketing, right?

Maybe, but we can’t say for sure just yet.

This is what makes the concept of always-on marketing so confusing. If you were to randomly ask marketing leaders whether their marketing is “always on,” almost all would say it is, not because they’re being untruthful, but because it just feels like it’s always on. Nobody ever shuts anything off.

In reality, though, many marketers who think they’re always on are merely always available. I had a hard time finding a clear definition that allows marketers to easily determine whether or not they can call what they’re doing “always-on marketing,” so here’s my definition:

The Definition of Always-On Marketing

An ongoing, non-campaign approach that aims to create remarkable brand experiences at scale through systematic optimization, wherever opportunities to create a remarkable experience might occur.

Systematic optimization is the key differentiator between always on and always available. What does that mean? The following image from WiderFunnel’s Chris Goward (h/t to Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights) does a nice job of illustrating the approach:

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In the image above and to the right, replace “evolutionary site redesign” with a singular aspect of the buying experience you’d want to optimize over time. For example, it might make sense for your brand to offer the most robust, most personalized feature comparison tool on the market.

You’d optimize this experience over time by performing an evolutionary optimization pattern. Apply this same process to other applicable buying journey experiences,  and you are always-on marketing, my friend.

With tighter optimization windows, you have a far less chance of being “off” when it matters most. Like the comedian who continuously tests and tweaks material, you position yourself to delight in the spotlight.

What Prevents Brands from Performing Always-On Marketing?

As you know by now, being always on is much more involved than flipping a switch. In his overview for building an always on model, Greg Poffenroth of Monroe Partners points to three factors that prevent brands from making the leap to always-on marketing.

First, brands need “usable data.” By that Poffenroth means data you can use to increase personalization and relevance. Most brands have more data than they can shake a stick at, yet still lack this type of data. How does one get it? Here’s a nice primer on first-, second- and third-party personalization, along with the types of data associated with each.

Second, always-on marketing is by definition done at scale. To provide personalization and relevance at scale, brands need “supporting architecture” in the form of connected systems. As Poffenroth notes, “You want these systems to learn about individual behaviors and apply the knowledge to each interaction.”

Third, always-on marketing is a highly iterative process. Each new iteration typically requires new content that follows a sound testing model. It’s not uncommon to struggle with both content volume and testing consistency when getting started.

How Can I Get Started with Always-On Marketing?

Some marketers proactively optimize hundreds of brand experiences. That may seem daunting, but know that it didn’t happen overnight for any of them. They got there over time, ultimately by testing new processes and scaling what works.

Start by identifying one or two buying journey experiences that matter most to your brand. If none immediately come to mind, think about opportunities to provide a personalized content experience, or particular moments of the buying process in which your brand is best positioned to dazzle. When your optimization process produces the desired result, your team now has an opportunity to brainstorm ways to apply what’s working to create a better brand experience elsewhere.

How Can DivvyHQ Help Me Execute Always-On Marketing?

Use DivvyHQ’s custom workflow feature to account for optimization from the start of any content initiative. Whereas many content workflows end at “publish” or “promote,” your team’s workflow can include pre-scheduled, systematic tune-ups that help to assure a better experience over time.

By building in optimization from the start, you can be sure that fundamental steps don’t get skipped while also ensuring that team members have adequate bandwidth to follow through on evolutionary optimization.

With regards to your team’s bandwidth, testing and optimization take time. If optimization is perceived to be a burden, these steps tend to get skipped. Take advantage of the DivvyHQ analytics dashboard to reduce the time it takes to uncover actionable insights.

Whether you want to be “always on,” or just “on” more often, we’re here to help. Subscribe to the DivvyHQ blog below for a steady stream of advice designed to help your content marketing team run at peak productivity.