What Is Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing, on the other hand, is about unifying all aspects of marketing communications — from traditional advertising to public relations to social networking activity and beyond — in a way that creates a seamless, consistent, customer-centric experience at all times. In other words, it's about offering people a harmonious experience that looks and feels the same regardless of where they encounter it, and regardless of which channels your brand is using at the moment.
Note that while this may sound similar to omnichannel marketing, the two terms are not quite the same and should never be treated as such. Omnichannel marketing is all about providing a seamless customer interaction with your brand. The experience of interacting with you on your website feels identical to your Twitter page, your branded mobile app, or even when someone picks up the phone and gives your customer service team a call.
Integrated marketing, on the other hand, is all about the message you're putting out into the world. It's about bringing together everything — from ads to promotions to social media and public relations — to target your consumers in the most effective way possible. Though the channel itself may change, the message remains the same — and that is what allows all the disparate elements of your integrated marketing campaign to come together to form something far more powerful than any one of them could be on their own.
Why Do You Need An Integrated Marketing Strategy
If marketing success is all about getting the right message in front of the right person at exactly the right time, one of the biggest challenges that most businesses face has to do with the fact that the "right place" is essentially like trying to hit a moving target.
These days, not only have consumers become desensitized thanks to constant exposure to advertising collateral, but they've largely grown frustrated by it. In an era when more than 200 million people are using ad blocking software on their computers around the globe (a 700% increase from 2010, mind you), it's hard to stay optimistic about how those old school "best practices" of digital marketing are going to work to your benefit moving forward.
Equally complicating things is the fact that consumers are also spread out in more directions than ever before, too. They're not just using their computers or their smartphones. They're also on tablets. They're using streaming services. They're on Internet-connected game consoles and set-top boxes like the Roku or Apple TV.
This, in essence, is why integrated marketing is so important. Brands have already sunk hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on multiple marketing channels to better reach their ideal consumers with little — if anything — to show for it.
The Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Strategy
The most important benefit that an integrated marketing campaign will bring to the table is that it's far more cost-effective than a lot of the alternatives available to you. Creating unique collateral like written content, images and graphics for all of your various marketing channels doesn't just cost time — it costs money, too.
When your campaigns are integrated together, however, you can share this collateral across multiple channels thus saving a significant amount of resources.
Brand & Trust Building
Creating a more consistent experience by way of an integrated marketing campaign is also a great way to build trust with your audience. People are naturally skeptical of brands these days and inconsistent messaging only adds to that fact. But when everything is integrated and consistent, it's far easier to get people to see you as the genuine brand that you are. It's also far easier to sell to people who trust you as opposed to those who don't.
Drive More Leads & Sales
An integrated marketing strategy is also a great way to generate higher quality traffic and leads, as people have a far better perception of who you are and what you do than they otherwise would. They're not confused at all when they visit your website — they already understand your products and services and can see how they fit into their lives. This in turn brings with it another important benefit: a higher return on investment moving forward.
Best Practices for an Integrated Marketing Strategy
In order to develop the best integrated marketing strategy that works for your business, there are a few key things you'll need to keep in mind.
Get Internal Alignment
You will need to begin by first getting internal alignment — meaning that all key stakeholders need to actually agree on the direction that your messaging will take. This will go a long way toward making sure that everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction.
Look For Opportunities in Channels
You'll also want to look for opportunities in channels that make sense given whatever your specific goals happen to be. If you're going through a major rebranding effort with a new logo and other visual collateral, for example, obviously people need to be able to see it — meaning that radio advertisements are not necessarily what you should be focused on. Regardless, be prepared to carefully examine all channels like email marketing, sales promotions, content marketing, social media and more to see which ones make the most sense for your integrated marketing campaign and which ones don't.
Don't Neglect Overlap
While you do, remember that a lot of the collateral you're creating as a part of your campaign will overlap from one channel to the next. You might use the same graphics on your website that you do on social media, for example. Don't shy away from this — embrace it, as that is one of the major benefits of integrated marketing to begin with.
All the while, you'll want to make an effort to stay as consistent as possible in regard to your message. Everything from word choices to font selections needs to feel like they're coming from the same place, regardless of where someone happens to encounter them.
Tweak When Necessary
Finally, don't be afraid to tweak your integrated marketing plan as necessary. Not every move you make will be a total success right out of the gate. Pay attention to what is working and, more importantly, what isn't. That way, you can double down on the former and get rid of the latter as much as possible.
How to Create an Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy
Without exception, the first thing you should do when creating your own integrated digital marketing strategy involves establishing goals for what you hope to accomplish. This will also help give you a better idea of what types of key performance indicators and metrics you should be following.
Obviously, if your goal was to increase engagement with your target audience you would make different decisions (and pay attention to different success indicators) than if you were trying to increase your website traffic or brand reach.
But the point is you need to understand what you're trying to accomplish so that you can then work your way back to how you'll leverage integrated marketing to get to that point.
Build Your Target Audience
During this time, you'll also need to build your target audience on a channel-by-channel basis. Buyer personas will be invaluable to that end, as it helps you understand exactly who you're talking to on each medium and how you need to customize certain assets to play into what makes these people so unique in the first place.
Optimize Your Google Analytics
Optimizing your Google Analytics will also be critical because you can't improve what you're not actively measuring. You should also use this as a chance to A/B test certain key pieces of collateral like your website, as you'd be shocked by what a major impact that even seemingly-small changes in design and word choice can have on your target audience.
Create Content for Digital Channels
Beyond that, get to work on creating compelling content for each of your channels and, again, don't be afraid to lean into those small overlaps that may exist. Your blog and website are great opportunities to also include links to your social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter, for example. A blog post doesn't have to simply live on your website — you can also share it on social media, too. Even your email signature is a great chance to expose people to your website URL or links to any relevant videos you've created.
Analyze Data & Finetune Strategy
All the while, you should be analyzing the data you're collecting and fine-tuning your integrated marketing strategy for the best results moving forward. Return to the metrics you identified when you originally laid out the goals for your campaign and begin tracking them on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. If your integrated marketing strategy is working, you should be seeing slow but steady gains over these periods. If you're not, it means something about your campaign isn't working, and you need to find it so that it can be adjusted as quickly as possible.