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What is always-on marketing?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 10 Apr, 2024
Essential Essential topic

Are you practicing always-on marketing, and if not, why not?

In the pre-digital era, marketing activities were planned in campaign ‘bursts’ around new product launches and promotions. My belief is that to be effective, digital marketing needs a change in mindset so businesses invest sufficient time and budget into continuously  optimizing ‘always-on’ activities which can be used in an integrated way to maximise visibility and conversion through the customer lifecycle.

What is always-on marketing?

Always-on marketing: A working definition

Always-on marketing means a planned approach to scheduling and optimizing continuous marketing activities which support customer acquisition and retention throughout the customer lifecycle.

Consider the main types of digital marketing. Think about these key digital media I define in my Digital Marketing: Strategy and Implementation book. If you operate in a market where your potential customers are continuously searching for new products and services that you offer then you can't be competitive unless you continuously work to improve them.

Why is always-on marketing needed?

From the visual you can see that key always-on channels are:

  • Organic search and paid search to maintain visibility
  • Social media marketing to engage prospects and social customer care
  • Digital advertising such as retargeting which reminds people who have engaged with you or affinity-based advertising that targets people who are 'in-market' for your products and services
  • Email marketing including automated welcome and nurture sequences and newsletters
  • Website landing pages and product pages which convert visitors

All of these channels are intensely competitive, so you will only succeed if you have a plan to improve and are putting sufficient resources to review and improve these channels. This won't happen if marketers in a business only have time to work on burst campaign activities.

For Always-on marketing to be effective, efforts should be made to increase the effectiveness of different digital channels through testing, review, and optimization throughout the customer lifecycle.  Our RACE Framework helps marketers condense this down into reach, act, convert, and engage.

RACE framework lifecycle

Use our free, planning template downloads to get started with using RACE to grow your business. These will help you create a 90-day prioritized plan to improve your results from digital marketing. We recommend 25+ key marketing activities across RACE that are essential for businesses to compete by improving their digital marketing maturity.

Always-on vs campaign marketing

The opportunity to dynamically update and test digital media and experiences to improve effectiveness has always been claimed as a key benefit compared to traditional media but does this happen in practice? Our research on managing digital marketing highlighted the extent companies have processes in place to manage always-on marketing and optimization continuously.

The responses showed a core group of leaders has moved beyond intermittent to more regular structured testing and optimization programs across different digital media and experiences (sites and mobile).


A relatively small proportion (around a fifth) have fully embraced optimization with these leaders running a continuous, structured program. The percentage of leaders who optimized individual channels using continuous optimization or structured tests were:

  • Digital media 19%
  • Digital experiences 14%
  • Content 22%
  • Outbound messaging 16%

Do you find it surprising that digital experiences are not optimized more frequently?

It would be good to see more people move towards evolutionary site design. The question is what is stopping businesses from investing in optimization?

Always-on marketing


Our RACE Framework empowers marketers to put in place a data-driven marketing strategy to align all digital customer touchpoints. From the full range of digital media to always-on high-performing landing, product or category pages, homepage, checkouts, blogs, and more, our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) available via our RACE framework will help optimize your always-on activities.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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