How marketers can adapt to the always-on world
- 08 May 2017
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With the rise of mobile platforms and fast wireless internet, people are more connected than ever before.
In just a few taps we can pay our bills, check the weather, navigate cities and communicate with our friends. We expect these services to be available at all times, whenever we call on them. The era in which products and services are available only in working hours is gone forever. Welcome to the always-on world.
These changes in behaviour driven by technology have had major consequences for marketers. In one sense, it means there are far more touchpoints or opportunities to make contact with our audience. On the other hand, the quality and speed of service that customers expect from brands has risen dramatically.
More touchpoints but more ways for customers to air dissatisfaction
Always-on means going beyond campaigns that start… then stop
In the past, most brands’ marketing strategies were based on running several key campaigns each year that last for a set period of time. This model was designed for a world with a highly structured customer funnel.
Digital technology has truncated the purchase journey. Customers are able to make a decision to purchase almost immediately after seeing advertising, irrespective of the channel.
Always-on marketing strategies work by planning for a large number of these ‘lightweight’ interactions across the channels consumers are spending their time on – social media, the internet and mobile. Any of these interactions could lead to a conversion.
A large number of lightweight interactions between the pillars of your campaigns
Marketers must respond to 24-hour customer feedback
Always-on marketing works in both directions: as well as presenting more opportunities to reach an audience, it means customers are able to share their views about your brand across digital channels – especially social media – at any time. Negative comments can dissuade other customers, and a poorly managed response can even go viral. It’s important to be able to manage these interactions carefully. In this way, marketers have had to learn the techniques of PR professionals to be able to respond systematically to unexpected events.
Due to the rise of instant feedback, customer service after the point of purchase is also now critical. Fulfilling the order and responding to enquiries is arguably as important as converting customers in the first place. Customers expect to be able to track orders in real time, and receive fast responses to questions on delivery or delay.
Managing the customer experience after the sale is as important as conversion
Always ready to respond with tactical and real time advertising
Another facet of always-on marketing is the practice of responding at speed to current events. Tesco placed print adverts in newspapers the day after football matches in the 2014 World Cup referencing the result and advertising a relevant discount. This type of real-time campaign shares some features with traditional campaigns by featuring clever creative in printed media to deliver reach. Many brands also push real-time tactical ads to customers across digital channels.
Brands can springboard off current events to cut through the noise of online advertising
The prospect of switching to an always-on marketing strategy may seem daunting. But there are a range of techniques that marketers can employ to keep always-on without blowing the entire marketing budget.
Data analysis allows always-on marketers to be specific
One consequence of the always-on marketplace is the proliferation of vast amounts of customer behaviour data. It’s possible to use and combine these data sets to understand browsing patters and spikes in demand, for instance. We’re then able to anticipate when a customer would be most receptive to receiving an offer which is relevant, and serve it to them in real time. Often this is achieved through the use of an automated, programmatic system.
Because customers have been pre-selected based on their browsing behaviour, it’s much more likely this activity will result in a conversion, compared with a blanket campaign aimed at a given demographic. This is likely to lead to higher return on investment: in other words, marketing spend can actually be made to work harder in the always-on world.
Data analysis can make marketing spend work harder leading to higher ROI
Chatbots can help you maintain your always-on marketing
There are many tools available to help marketers aggregate customer feedback and save time by allowing you to respond across all channels from one platform. Also, developments in artificial intelligence have led to the development of ‘chatbots’. These are virtual chat assistants that are able to answer customer enquiries as well as a real person. When they’re working correctly, the customer won’t be able to tell the difference. This is one way in which brands can keep up with customer demands for one-to-one contact without having to acquire expensive staffing resources.
Automated systems such as chatbots are a cost-effective response to always-on
Creative content management for the always-on era
Finally, brands needn’t constantly create new content to serve to customers through always-on campaigns. Highlights of a piece of thought leadership can be tweeted out over the course of a week, or be designed as a useful infographic. Also, involving the customer in the campaign is an innovative way to create meaningful interactions with your user base at the same time as being relatively inexpensive to manage.
Old-fashioned creativity can make your owned resources go further across channelsBack to all