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Insights What is the difference between always-on and campaign-based marketing?

Emily Stewart-Wooler
Emily Stewart-Wooler
Senior Marketing Executive

25 Jul 2023

2 minute read

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If you're an old hand within the marketing space, always-on and campaign-based marketing will be two concepts you’re very familiar with. But, if you’re new to the industry or perhaps are slightly removed from your company’s marketing, you might not be aware of the difference between them and how each can be used to achieve your marketing and business goals. 

In this quick guide, I’ll explain in layman’s terms the difference between the two, so let’s jump straight in…


What is always-on marketing? 

As the name would suggest, always-on marketing is ongoing or erm… 'always on'. A slightly more thorough definition of it might be: 

"Continuous marketing activities that support lead generation, brand awareness and customer retention". 

Historically, marketing was done predominantly via a short burst of activity (campaigns) but, thanks to the introduction of the internet and social media to the marketing mix, this gives a lot more scope for always-on.

Examples of always-on marketing might include: 

  • Organic social media posts 

  • Electronic direct mail (EDM)/ email newsletters 

  • Google display ads

  • Search - PPC and SEO 

  • Content such as blogs or insights 

“But can’t these all be used for campaigns?” I hear you cry. Well yes, they can but the difference here is that these are things that are constantly going on in the background and likely don’t have a specific metric or conversion goal in mind. 

More often than not, always-on marketing focuses on brand awareness, with various customer touch points throughout the customer journey. Customers are now on 24/7 so it’s vital that your marketing is too. It’s also a good thing to keep going on a housekeeping front, so that when a prospective customer or client inevitably gives you a Google (and you know they will), you show up in all the right places with consistent messaging and tone of voice. 

On the flip side… we have campaigns.


What is campaign-based marketing?

Campaigns, or Campaign-based marketing, are likely thought of as the more "traditional" form of marketing, with a focus on ‘short bursts’ of activity I mentioned above. 

This type of marketing is perfect if you have a specific goal/budget/deadline in mind and works well for shorter periods (i.e. a few weeks to months). For example, maybe you have a new product launch and want to boost sales of said product for the first couple of weeks post-launch, or you have a new service you want to promote - campaigns are what you’re after! They’re also great for specific times of the year, i.e. Christmas/Valentine's Day/Black Friday promotions. 

Generally speaking, you’re likely to see a wider variety of mediums used within campaign marketing, with print possibly making an appearance. 

Examples of campaign-based marketing might include: 

Ideally, you want to find a good balance between the two types because, realistically, you need both. Without always-on you’ll likely struggle to raise brand awareness, which then can feed into how well your campaigns run. Try not to see it as a one or the other kind of approach, but that they ride in tandem seamlessly. 

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