Marketing across multiple channels is crucial for reaching new customers, providing a consistent brand experience, and growing your business. The question to ask yourself is, “Do all of these marketing channels complement each other and is my marketing message being reinforced across the board?”
That’s where an integrated marketing strategy comes in—it creates alignment that isn’t possible with individual marketing efforts. When the entire goal of an integrated marketing strategy is centered around your business’s target customer and their path to purchase, the end result strengthens your bottom line.
What is Integrated Marketing?
The textbook definition of integrated marketing is a marketing strategy that stresses the importance of a consistent, seamless, multi-dimensional brand experience for the consumer. This means that each branding effort is presented in a similar style to reinforce the brand’s ultimate message.
Our definition adds the element of strategy up front. We want to ensure every marketing effort is optimized.
At Element, we believe integrated marketing should include a holistic approach built on a well-thought-out, data-driven strategy. The ultimate goal should focus on achieving the greatest possible end-results.
This is why we’ve structured our agency in a format that allows us to offer comprehensive integrated marketing completely in-house—all marketing efforts must work in concert together to orchestrate a dynamic marketing message that resonates with your target customer. Regardless of whether your audience is ready to buy today, tomorrow, months, or years from now, you need to deliver the right content, in the right channels, at the right time.
Compare this to independent marketing efforts that aren’t driven by an underlying strategy. One-off marketing efforts are only likely to appeal to customers that are ready to buy now, but the lack of integration opens up the possibility of missing all the customers above the “ready-to-purchase” portion of the sales funnel.
These inconsistent marketing efforts are also known as “marketing popcorn”. Marketing Campaign Development defines marketing popcorn as “marketing tactics that are planned and executed independently of each other and with no interaction or cross-functional coordination. To the prospect, they appear random and unconnected.” Integrating your entire strategy can provide much better results.
Elements of an Integrated Marketing Plan
When designing an integrated marketing communication strategy, you’ll want to consider all the tools at your disposal for reaching your target audience. Here at Element, based on our client-focused approach, we’ve found the following elements to deliver the most impressive results when they work together. Our integrated marketing approach includes strategy, content marketing, website development, creative design, social media, public relations, SEO, and paid digital efforts.
It all starts with an aligned strategy. This strategy should be centered around your target customer and driven by data and research. The marketing environment is always changing, so it’s crucial to be adaptable along the way. However, a fundamental strategy should guide every marketing effort towards that end goal and ensure your marketing communication is consistently reinforced across all channels.
Everything from blog posts to press releases to email marketing should be tactically written to reinforce other content and your overall brand message. Your content should also be engaging, compelling, and optimized for search engines. Leave an impression on your audience and motivate them to take action. Answer the question “Why would my customer care?” when creating content.
In today’s digital world, your website plays a huge role in the appearance of your brand. Position yourself as an expert that your customers can trust. Present a dynamic brand image and design your website in a way that allows your target customer to experience your brand and efficiently flow through your sales funnel.
Just like content, your creative design should maintain a consistent theme and reflect your larger marketing goals. Maintain brand recognition and reinforce your brand’s overall appearance.
Maintain a presence on the social media outlets where your target customers are most likely to engage with content. Your social media team should highlight shareable content that aligns with your strategy and publish it at the right time and on the right channel.
Spread the word about your story and all the great things you’re doing on media outlets and position yourself as a subject matter expert on industry trends, news, and more.
Optimize your content to rank when your target customer is performing a web search that relates to your brand or one of your products or services. Optimize for both quality and quantity.
Paid Social and Paid Media
Leverage proven advertising strategies on search engines, social media platforms, and other digital outlets where your customers can be found. Remember to stay on-brand and on-strategy.
How Should You Integrate These Elements Together?
The aligned strategy should be woven throughout all the other marketing elements. Your strategy should be determined by starting with the end-goal in mind and use data to determine which channels will be priorities. Don’t include a channel with a historically poor ROI for the sake of furthering your breadth of integration; only emphasize the activities that will drive success.
But remember, integration doesn’t mean just copying and pasting the same message across the board. Understand how your customers interact with different channels and strategically decide which version of your message to deliver on each platform. Once you determine specific budgets, be sure to set measurable goals for every activity and ensure your CTAs deliver the results you are looking for.
Each marketing channel should complement the others. When your marketing efforts are fully integrated, the end-result is more powerful than what would have been achieved individually.
For example, lets imagine you are brand manager for a company that sells widgets. Here’s a simplified version of how to integrate different marketing channels:
In depth research leads you to a strategy focused on driving web traffic and converting customers online. Of course, your existing website can employ SEO efforts to optimize for search engines. Now, imagine if PR works directly with SEO by focusing on highly searched content that provides great ranking opportunity. Plus, your PR specialists focus on earning reputable backlinks to relevant pages on your website. This earns you much more SEO value than the marketing popcorn version of on-site optimization. Now, when you run PPC ads, you might not have to focus a hefty budget on competitive ‘widget’ keywords because you know you already rank organically. And, when you send your email campaign, you have newsworthy PR to feature that your subscribers engage with and click-through. This drives more traffic to your website and the high engagement earns you even higher SEO ranks.
The above example specifically focuses on the SEO benefit of integrated marketing, but just imagine the exponential results when all marketing efforts are integrated and focused on reinforcing an optimal outcome across all channels! Once you start, you will likely forever hold an advantage over your competitors.
Taking Integrated Marketing to the Next Level
It sounds cliché, but teamwork and communication are the keys to success – for most brands it can be nearly impossible for a single team to offer the capacity required to deliver a truly comprehensive integrated marketing strategy. So, leveraging skilled teams with clear lines of communication are your best bet. Ensure that great leadership provides a well-defined strategy for all teams to follow.
Activating an integrated marketing strategy internally can be a serious challenge. It requires a depth and breadth of skillsets that can be expensive. Either you’re limited by the workforce you have available or you’re underutilizing costly talent. On the other hand, outsourcing your marketing efforts can create headaches of its own: utilizing one vendor for social media, another for creative design, and another for video can lead to inconsistencies and varying agendas. Not to mention the communication all bottlenecks through you, requiring more of your valuable time.
This is why we decided to structure Element in a format that allows us to offer fully integrated marketing under one roof (well, technically we have two offices in Northeast Wisconsin). We offer a comprehensive team of marketing specialists and can offer everything from web and mobile app development to digital advertising and public relations all in-house (check out our full list of integrated marketing services).
What does Integrated Marketing Look Like in Action?
Let’s look at a current example: beef producer JBS wanted to elevate a retail category by educating beef lovers and encouraging them to explore different beef cuts and recipes. We created a brand for beef lovers named Beefitarian and developed an integrated marketing approach on a limited budget and short timeline.
The approach combined social media prizes & contests, a Pandora campaign, micro-influencers, an online challenge and cause campaign, media relations, audio & video production, remarketing, developing a microsite and all-new creative, and more. All strategies were developed to reinforce each other and worked together to earn Beefitarian some impressive results:
- A 5-minute news broadcast and 15 total media placements
- Beef category growth in the target market that outpaced the country by 6.0%
- 6 M total impressions and 40.7K pageviews
Most importantly, our client accomplished their goals:
“We are thrilled with the results. Element delivered beyond expectations developing the strategy to bring this campaign to life. They’ve helped JBS USA further establish our position as a Beef category leader, and subsequently winning new consumers and business in retail”
– John Crowder, Head of Marketing JBS USA
Our success is focused on our clients’ success. Our mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create great work that strengthens your bottom line. This means we help you develop your integrated marketing strategy with your resolute goals top-of-mind. For example, our in-house social media experts are at your disposal, but if it doesn’t make sense for your integrated marketing strategy, you don’t have to pay for it. Having access to the depth and breadth of skills needed to deliver on an integrated marketing strategy without any limitations or excessive talent cost can be extremely beneficial. Unleash the perfect amount of skill and creativity; nothing more and nothing less.
If you need help building the perfect integrated marketing strategy, our door is always open. We can help you showcase all the value within your brand. Whether you’re in need of a marketing overhaul or simply want to organize your marketing efforts, your friendly neighbors at Element are here to help.