Digital Marketing – The Benefits of Always-On versus Campaign

digital marketing always-on
photo credit: danmachold via photopin cc

At many companies, most of the investments in digital marketing is driven through campaigns. We see huge pulses of investment for a short period of time, then almost zero (or actually zero) investment for a long time. This model exists within companies as almost all traditional marketing channels are optimized for this model.

What is the Difference Between Always-On and Campaign Marketing?

Within the digital space, campaign based marketing acts like the traditional “push” model. The goal is to communicate a key marketing message to as many people as possible in hopes that they will learn a specific message and/or perform a certain action. They are in the market until the objective is complete, then they go silent again.

The always-on models acts like the “pull” model, focusing on finding the specific people who want to know more about what you offer and will thus participate with us in some way. The always-on model runs indefinitely, it is just optimized over time.



Built around messages

Built on purpose

Divide people in boxes to efficiently target them

Unite around love/interest in the brand

Operate on our schedule

Operate “on demand”

Control what is being said

Curating/Responding to what people are saying

About being interruptive

About being useful and engaging, creating value

Exist in as many places as possible

Create a hub for everything we do


Requirements of Always-On Marketing

The only way to create a sustainable always-on model is to start with a purpose, not a message. A purpose of beyond simply delivering a functional benefit is critical. To be successful, brands must deliver true utility to consumers –“make my life easier, make my life better”.

Always-on marketing requires real-time actions. Campaigns are all about planning a defined set of actions for a defined time frame, yet some of the best opportunities come at odd times. The classic example of these real-time benefits occurred during the Superbowl blackout in Feburary 2013 when companies such as Oreo and Tide has content out in minutes.

The consumer needs to lead the way. Keeping a close eye on success is required for an optimized always-on model as although you might think you know exactly where you want to go, you need to let the consumer lead you there. One of the biggest benefits of digital is the real-time analytics and the ability to quickly evaluate success. Within a few clicks, data is available to see where most people are leaving your website, what content they engage with the most and what is ignored. Constantly using these learnings allows for constant optimization to always remain useful and engaging.

Always-on marketing can only be successful with a constant funnel of content. Sustainability can only be achieved through four ways; curation, user generated content, lots of time or a big budget. Pick your poison(s).

Benefits of Always-On Marketing

Traditional targeting and media is all about finding the largest audience through demographics and serving them your message. Through always-on, the goal is finding audiences with a true passion for what the brand is about and bring them all together in one place. Once this place exists, it will then grow and be socialized. Once the space is socialized it will carry a broader appeal bringing in more people to consume and engage with your content.

As the internet evolves and becomes bigger, everything becomes more and more niche. And people are dipping into many different aspects of their selves and show a different side based on the culture of the given network. We are photographers on Instagram, proper professionals on LinkedIn, social mavens on Facebook and news reporters on Twitter. Brands need to find their niche, create a valued experience, and stick within it.

As the internet continues to grow, more and more experiences are being socialized allowing for near constant two-way communications. Two-way communications have huge benefits including personifying the company, uniquely portraying brand positioning, making people feel valued and developing one-on-one relationships with consumers.

In a pure campaign model, your goal of reaching the masses can only be done through paying to “rent” space. Through an always-on strategy you have the ability to build owned audiences that are interested in you brand for more than a campaigns specific objective.  Having and growing this database can create a company asset that could even become a future profit generator.

Consumers acquired through an always-on strategy have a higher level of loyalty as they are acquired through a love for the brand or an interest in our content. Consumers that are acquired through campaign based marketing may only enter our ecosystem for the benefit of the campaign, such as a chance to win or a coupon.

The Verdict (…In my opinion at least)

Even though it seems like I am all for always-on and against campaigns, that is not the case. In my opinion the optimized digital strategy is a combination of both always-on and campaign based models. By layering always-on marketing, the entire company’s digital profile will be elevated and will allow for more sustainable and larger campaign peaks.

David Alexander
David equally loves the art and the science of digital marketing. With a background in both marketing and finance he can be found exploring creative platforms, pulling insight from in-depth analytics and everything in between. He is currently working in Digital Marketing at one of Canada's largest food companies, Maple Leaf Foods.
David Alexander

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