What is Integrated Marketing: Why your business should be using it?
Marketing, in an increasingly desensitized society, is finding itself in unfamiliar territory. Markets are now becoming more and more fragmented and companies are finding it difficult to develop a coherent marketing strategy. With the emergence of various social media platforms and the evolution of markets, is there still such a thing as effective marketing?
The common pitfall is the false dichotomy that it should be easier to reach markets with a plethora of available social platforms. However, marketers fail to realize that people use social media, email, TV, radio, and other platforms differently from one another. Gone are the days when cold calls and door-to-door operations were the core foundations of a company’s marketing and sales efforts. Nowadays, people are not just interested in your products–they’re also interested in how consistent your brand is.
In the advent of rapid digital innovation and consumers wanting more from companies, is there still a way to unify the customer experience?
What Is Integrated Marketing?
Integrated Marketing is the practice of unifying various marketing strategies and leveraging these strategies to ultimately complement each other. Put simply, the overall purpose of integrated marketing is to create a holistic approach that will ensure consistent messaging across different communications platforms as well as align its goals with the company’s overall brand.
The common misconception is that integrated marketing is under the umbrella of marketing. However, according to Data Marketing & Analytics, an Association of National Advertisers partner, integrated marketing “attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities.”
This means that integrated marketing does not only deal with promotions, but it is also a process that combines different disciplines of marketing and communications to ensure that all messaging strategies are customer-focused and consistent across all channels. In integrated marketing, all channels should work in unison rather than in isolation.
Why Is Integrated Marketing Important?
A recent article by ReachForce, a data management solutions agency, has described integrated marketing as a process that provides customers with a seamless brand experience across all channels. In other words, integrated marketing does not only rely on the quality of a company’s products and services but also in the quality of the company’s overall brand identity.
In the past, brand identity has been often overlooked as traditional promotions and advertising practices focused on mass marketing a brand/company’s products using print, television, and radio advertisements. Very rarely do these ads tell a story or are purpose-driven. That’s what sets integrated marketing apart.
Integrated marketing shines where other aspects of marketing and sales fall short— it prioritizes providing value. In the modern business landscape, where companies post the same ubiquitous type of content day in day out, consumers now care about authenticity and uniqueness from marketing efforts more so than the product itself.
How Does Integrated Marketing Provide Value?
Integrated marketing provides value through seamlessly bringing together all forms of communications with consistent messaging and branding strategies. A unified marketing approach also increases the probability of your target audience actively seeking your brand. However, it doesn’t stop there. Simultaneously, integrated marketing positively affects other aspects of a business such as:
For example, a restaurant is planning to run a campaign that tells the story of a couple going to their restaurant for every milestone in their lives. Using integrated marketing, the story would be broken into segments with the bulk of the story featured in the company’s website while shorter parts/segments of the story will then be shared through visual content on social media, TV, or radio ads. The most important thing to remember is that posts on each platform should tie-in with the overall campaign strategy. This strategy will allow the restaurant to gain greater visibility (by generating interest) across all of its communications platforms.
Companies that know what customers want already to have a competitive advantage over other companies that don’t. The best way to craft a story is to know the conversations your target audience is having. Search marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) are great skills to utilize to develop content that is relevant to a company and its consumers.
Consistency in internal and external communications
In addition to consistent messaging, integrated marketing can also help with a brand/company’s creative consistency. In an integrated marketing campaign, ensuring consistency in graphics, copy, and other types of content are key for leads and customers to gain a holistic view of a brand and its products.
Consistency in communications does not only apply to customer-facing deliverables but also in employees exemplifying a company’s values. Having employees “live and breathe” what a company stands for is important in integrated marketing as it bolsters culture-building initiatives. When your employees understand and embrace what the company stands for, the easier it is to deliver consistent messaging to customers.
Being consistent in marketing communications means that a company can repurpose graphics, copy, and other multimedia content thus saving money by eliminating the need to address specialized content for every platform. If done correctly, integrated marketing helps optimize the marketing budget by allowing companies to allocate money toward the most effective strategies.
Build a following
Tools like social media, SEO, and search engine marketing have made it easier for companies to understand a customer’s journey. As a result, it has also become easier for companies to develop content that would resonate and reach their audiences better. However, an increase in visibility does not translate into an increase in engagement. Getting more hits and views on your website does not equate to building a following.
Building a consistent following will allow a company to nurture a greater relationship with its audience by further understanding what your following wants and what conversations they are having. Having a consistent following will also help establish a company as a thought leader in a congested and influencer-filled landscape. Offering thought-provoking and insightful opinions about relevant trends and topics will also help position a business in the middle of the conversations your followers are having.
Data plays an integral part in building a customer-focused integrated marketing campaign. Through data collected from search engine marketing efforts, companies will be able to understand customers better and create strategies in order to make the customer journey as seamless as possible.
With the right data (and a little bit of patience), companies will be able to gain key information about how customers interact with the company or the company’s product.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), in today’s digital landscape, has evolved from recommendations from one person to another to recommendations from one person to the world. An increasingly connected society means word of mouth perfectly ties into integrated marketing campaigns through conversations made via social media platforms.
In building trust through customer-focused integrated marketing campaigns, companies are simultaneously creating brand advocates that are willing to share products or services with their respective audience. A Nielsen study in 2015 claims that 83% of consumers are likely to believe recommendations from family and friends over traditional advertising methods.
Word of mouth marketing has also paved the way for other types of modern marketing practices such as affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.
Step-By-Step: How to Create an Integrated Marketing Campaign
The most important thing to remember is that integrated marketing is data driven. Knowing who your customers are and what your customers search for and then optimizing your content to revolve around those search queries is a great place to start. Here are a few tips on creating an integrated marketing campaign:
- Develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) campaign objectives
- Keep your messaging compelling and consistent in every communications channel to ensure brand consistency
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach, spend time in defining your target audience and understanding customer decision-making.
- Create evergreen content (as much as possible, when possible). Evergreen content will be easier to repurpose and will have a longer content lifespan.
- After creating great content, carefully select your channels. In knowing your audience, you would be able to properly target the channels that your audience is using the most and allocating majority of your budget on those channels.
- Measure, analyze, and adjust accordingly. As with any campaign, integrated marketing is not perfect and requires a good amount of data analysis to determine whether or not you are achieving your goals.
The more time spent in creating a marketing campaign, the better the chances for companies to avoid scattered marketing efforts and inconsistent messaging. Integrated marketing also allows companies to better understand where the budget is going and where to allocate it in the future. Integrated marketing efforts may seem overwhelming and tedious at first but it’s a worthwhile investment as it keeps companies ahead of the curve.
Aron Frost is the technical SEO specialist at First Page Hong Kong. As an integrated marketing agency – it offers paid social, paid search, SEO, branding, and content solutions.
Aron enjoys looking into big data for insights and believes analytics and UX are big factors when it comes to online success. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and on his blog.