Marketing leaves and breaths communications. Everything we do revolves around it and when we get communications right, customers line up with wallets already in hand. We’re continuing our series on asynchronous communication now with a specific look at how it impacts marketing for customers and internal teams, and why you should already be investing in asynchronous tools.
For an introduction, definition, and some early thoughts on sales, see our first post here.
Now, let’s look at the asynchronous world of marketing.
Communicating Asynchronously with Leads
Nearly all of the marketing you are going to create is asynchronous. Traditional media, Internet/new media, ads, and other channels all are created once and then consumed by your audience at different times. There’s no need — and often no ability — for the creator and audience to engage at the same exact moment.
So, focusing on asynchronous communication for marketers isn’t about learning a new type of content or creation. The lessons from today’s customers concern how you approach different situations with existing content.
How has the way people consumed your marketing messaging changed?
For some brands, there’s a big shift away from TV and radio to digital ads. Smaller companies may gain more exposure as the sponsor of a podcast or YouTube series. Blog post consumption could be up for you due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping your audience indoors or shifting how they interact — eBooks are replacing exhibit booths for many, for example. Learn that change and embrace it.
New Opportunities for Digital Natives
When it comes to marketing, your customers rarely communicate in a synchronous way. The big shift, however, comes from customer service. In the digital space, customer service has become a significant part of the overall marketing landscape. The chatbot is a core opportunity for marketers to leverage service in their efforts.
Your asynchronous media should be powering your chatbots. This includes the traditional sense where FAQs and knowledge bases are used to generate the answers chatbots provide. They can also link to these items to provide further information. However, marketers can take this a step further by building in specific answers and assets that double as sales tools.
Having a chatbot point to a blog that explains a topic or answers a question gives the customer a longer, more engaging piece of content. Videos can be used to create quick snippets and answers that are also fun and exciting. Even GIFs and annotated images can answer questions and provide help in a way that avoids feeling boring.
You’re already building asynchronous media. The opportunity is to tune into asynchronous communication opportunities to deliver that media. It’ll inherently fit the way the customer is expecting to interact.
If you’re looking to learn a little more about what it means right now, check out this post on seven tips for selling during a pandemic. It’ll provide some great insight on blending synchronous and asynchronous tactics plus the right tech stack for your team today. It also discusses ways to keep connected, though we’ll dive into some marketing-specific elements in just a bit.
Favorite Asynchronous Benefits and Best Practices
Asynchronous communication is generally thought to be more effective at delivering detailed information. People can skim and read and pay attention for as long as they like — though you do need to keep their attention. Textbooks, detailed manuals, reference materials, documentaries, and many other info-packed communications are presented asynchronously.
For marketers, that’s important because it allows you to get the full set of information to people at different points in your funnel without relying solely on demos or calls. You can inform people at their own pace. At the same time, these information tools are easy to put behind a gate so you can capture data. Asynchronous communications generally create a record of interaction.
Another characteristic important to both complexity and the record is that you can use one asynchronous asset multiple times. You don’t need to keep creating for each individual, allowing you to reach more people and let people control the interaction time and place. This is a common reason why webinars get recorded and turned into on-demand presentations.
To make the most out of these benefits and your asynchronous assets, here are a few best practices for marketing materials and communications:
- Make assets easy to follow and well structured. People will absorb the information at different rates, and some may need to go over a concept multiple times if you have a complex offering. Structure makes this easy and avoids frustrating your audience.
- Simplify access. If you’re going to gate content, minimize the information you need. The higher something is in your funnel; the fewer hoops customers should need to jump through to get it.
- Offer it 24/7. Content doesn’t close like an office. Use chatbots and other automation tools to ensure that your content and communications are available at all times. This is rarely an issue but is important to think of when you distribute a new campaign broadly.
- Create an “ask” but keep it simple. Asynchronous doesn’t mean content is idle, it just isn’t a rigorous back-and-forth. So, keep momentum through your funnel by making small tasks or following up often.
- Quadruple check your work. Once asynchronous communications and media are sent out, they’re hard to get back. So, review everything before it is sent.
Importance of Asynchronous Communications for Remote Teams
We’re seeing a growth in asynchronous communications within marketing teams now that more people are working from home and balancing daily tasks alongside childcare, running errands, and other responsibilities. Your team still needs vital information, but it is becoming harder to get that same information to everyone at the same instant.
So asynchronous tools are filling the gap and allowing people to share information without needing any immediate action. It also helps overcome time zone differences and other challenges because Slack, Trello, and similar systems require the recipient to take steps to engage. Remote teams can use asynchronous communication for the majority of their interactions because of these inherent differences in availability, without losing the important aspects of the information or message.
Most messages and campaign updates we need to send aren’t urgent. And, when they are, marketers usually plan for that fact. Campaigns and other elements generally have to run before you see an issue. Relying on asynchronous communication helps remind teams of that and minimizes that chance that something is incorrectly seen as urgent.
Also important is the need to rely on public channels and messaging as much as possible. You want discussions to be open and available to all so that everyone can stay on the same page. Management and HR conversations should always be private, but discussions relevant to your teams are most useful when everyone has access.
These actions will help keep your team focused on the right work, collaborations, and tools to get the job done and be their creative best. The intersection of creativity and that focus leads us to another crucial point about asynchronous communication.
Letting People Focus
Marketing is also mentally intensive work. Sometimes you need to bounce ideas off of a team on a call or in a meeting to brainstorm something great. Other times, however, you need an environment that helps you get into a deep state of focus. For some that can be the sounds and smells of a coffee shop while pink noise helps others, or you may prefer nature or absolute quiet.
That state of focus — sometimes called “deep work” — helps you focus and put together your best content in many cases.
Asynchronous communication supports this by allowing people to pause messaging and turn off email so they can narrow in on what they need to accomplish. Turning off the notifications for a time can be a way to help remote teams stay focused and accomplish tasks by minimizing unnecessary or unrelated interruptions.
A significant conversation for internal teams is about responsibility and privacy. Each individual is responsible for their own settings, especially any “Do Not Disturb” or notification controls. You must control your focus time. That said, the company or team should create policies that define when people must be available for more immediate conversations and meetings. It’s how you balance autonomy with the dynamic nature of marketing projects.
The other added benefit of allowing people to focus is that they’ll be more present when you need to use synchronous communication. Those urgent requests, brainstorming, or relationship building with a client (even if only via Zoom) will be a small part of your creative team’s day. That means they’ve got more time to think about the work and get it done, and that these meetings feel like a chance to demonstrate work instead of a distraction from it.
Asynchronous Collaboration Tools
In our work, here are some examples where asynchronous communication really shines:
- Company-wide and team announcements: People need the information you’re sharing, but they don’t need to be present to get it. This ensures everyone has the info but doesn’t disrupt other work.
- Project planning and small updates: Outside of your main meeting, task assignments, notices of completion, and requests for review can all happen via chat and other tools. Give your team a set time to review this information each day or week and they’ll be productive without burdened.
- Suggestions and reviews: Marketing is always under review, but most of us don’t need to be present when someone is looking at a campaign asset. Plus, relying on asynchronous communication makes it easy to get everyone’s feedback before you make changes. This can reduce revision numbers while helping your team avoid feelings of frustration.
- Pet photos: Honestly, what else is Slack good for? On a slightly serious note, all the fun things we love to share in general channels are perfect for asynchronous communication because it does two things well. First, it doesn’t interrupt for something “silly.” Second, it gives us a wonderful place to go and browse when we need a mental break.
- General client and industry updates: COVID-19 has reminded us all that everything can change. We’re also re-learning how not all of these changes have an immediate need. Asynchronous tools are perfect for when people need to learn about an update but not act. For example, think if a conference is cancelled. In normal times, that could immediately impact assets as you’d need to remove contact information or booth numbers. Now, it is just a general reminder that companies aren’t ready for that step so campaigns should continue to focus on other prospects.
And to wrap it all up, we’re going to take a quick second to talk about our 5 favorite asynchronous
communication tools for marketers. Your mix might be different, but these will hopefully help you fill any gaps and think about how you might be using these tools already.
Slack is the go-to for asynchronous communication because of your ability to tag people and channels, while those same team members can set themselves as away when needed. Everyone has control over how they’re messaged. Plus, you can create updates and general channels to share content that doesn’t need to be immediately viewed. Direct messaging allows you to move to synchronous communication easily, which is still needed.
Notion is one of the better company wiki tools around for managing a large number of workspaces and documents. It is easy to sort and search plus you can prevent it from spamming people with notices. You can use its calendar feature as well, though its strength lies in supporting your workflows and creating a series of living documents that keep everyone on the same page.
Threads is a very handy discussion tool that makes it easy for large groups of people — and smaller teams — to collaborate on larger projects. You can use it to work together without things feeling rushed and it is adaptive enough to fit into a lot of workflows. Its organization capabilities are amazing, and you can use it as a project management tool as well, which might help if you zone out every time you think about a Trello board.
Threads also has some big-name fans, with Buffer calling it “a perfect fit” for asynchronous team communications.
Here’s another category example to ensure your marketing team is focused. InVision is a collaborative tool for design prototyping. It’s powerful but also very user-friendly. The collaboration element allows for a lot of feedback while minimizing back-and-forth, and it can help you work together in earlier stages to avoid later rework.
Capturing images and putting them on boards with support for freehand can make it useful for everyone on your design team. Plus, you can easily save editions and versions, with elements that might not make it into final production but can inspire campaigns, collateral, and more.
- Zight (formerly CloudApp)
And how could we forget our favorite: Zight (formerly CloudApp)!
We’re a common asynchronous communication tool because we allow you to create a variety of messages to be sent and shared as you need it. Screen captures, annotation, and more can be delivered simply and integrated with Slack and others so you’re able to create and share quickly.
Video messages in general are a strong bridge between asynchronous and synchronous communication because you get the asynchronous delivery with the personal touch that comes with real-time chatting. Capturing your screen with webcam software shows people your facial expressions and keeps remote work from feeling so isolated.
It makes marketing communication more effective and more fun. But, don’t take our word for it. Get a free trial of Zight (formerly CloudApp) and give it to your team to see how well it supports them no matter where they work.