Understanding Integrated Marketing
Consumers have more ways than ever to spend their time and more advertising “channels” than ever begging for their attention. Some folks engage in an assortment of communication platforms on a regular basis (e.g. TV, internet, billboards, etc.) while others only pay attention to one or two. All of this means marketers shouldn’t focus their campaigns on a single area as they’ll miss out on a huge portion of their audience who doesn’t use that medium or who is otherwise engaged.
What’s the solution? To increase the chances of your brand being seen by the greatest number of people at any given time, and to make the best impression, you must integrate your marketing strategy.
What is Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing is by no means a new concept and is a staple lesson in marketing courses. At its core, it describes a form of marketing where a business uses a cohesive and singular message among all its advertising modes. So, no matter where a consumer views the ad, they will see the same logo, tagline, colors, and get the same “feeling” from the brand.
That said, in today’s world of mass media, integrated marketing isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Now, it encompasses a huge number of channels and is no longer about “feeding” people the same message but is about giving them something they can relate to in the environment they choose to accept it. And, of course, for brand recognition, all of that still need needs to be done with a unified message.
What Are Some of the New Communication Channels?
TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, and the like are all tried and true advertising mediums and, although still effective, their power has been diluted by other media outlets, namely the internet. For instance, with so many people watching television online, using DVRs to fast-forward commercials, or simply entertaining themselves in other ways, such as YouTube or social media, a prime-time TV commercial simply doesn’t reach the massive audience it once did. Because of this, even major corporations are focusing more on integration and using strategies that originated from the people, like viral videos.
So, when looking for ways to integrate your advertising efforts, don’t just focus on traditional mediums but also branch out to the myriad of online channels, including:
- Websites- Naturally, a website is the first thing you think of when discussing online marketing; however, for it to work it needs to be highly optimized and part of a larger inbound marketing campaign.
- Email – Generating leads through email is one of the most commonly adopted online strategies because, in many ways, it is a modern version of the mailer, and it seems familiar to advertisers. However, consumers guard their email inboxes closely and won’t let just anybody in, so this tactic can be a challenge.
- Social Media – Even better than email is social media, because it provides much more reach than what is possible from your email recipient list. Social networks revolve around sharing, which means your brand can easily reach a whole new audience as users naturally spread your message.
- PPC – Pay-Per-Click ads immediately get your brand front and center on the search engines and websites your audience uses most. By optimizing your ad and using targeted keywords there is no hit-or-miss with this strategy — your listing simply appears when someone searches your brand or products.
- Blog – A blog is a great way to offer people something of value and to keep them interested in your brand. Remember, consumers expect businesses to give them something in exchange for their attention and money, and a blog is one of the easiest delivery methods.
- Mobile – Mobile use is only increasing and, for many people, is the preferred way to access the internet. Having a mobile-friendly site and participating in mobile activities (especially social networking) will help you stay relevant to this growing audience.
- QR Codes – QR codes are another mobile strategy and the quintessential example of integrated marketing. Users see an advertisement in the “real world” and by scanning a code they are taken to a virtual location where they can continue engaging with that brand.
- And More
Levels of Integrated Marketing
Integrated marketing has two basic levels. The first level, which many businesses are toying with, is simply using a variety of offline and online marketing methods to push a consistent, look, feel, and message across a range of mediums. This is the obvious first step in expanding your reach yet it still only scratches the surface of true integrated marketing.
The second level, which every business should strive for, goes deeper by:
1. Optimizing Content for Every Channel Used
Users of different channels expect to receive their information in distinctive ways. For instance, mobile users want their information easy to find and condensed; those on social networks are looking for quick tidbits of info and attention-grabbing pictures and videos; and blog readers desire longer, more in-depth knowledge.
So, even though the essence of your message will be the same, you shouldn’t simply recycle duplicate content on each channel without tweaking it at least a little bit to appeal to the audience. Modern advertising is about giving consumers what they want, so make sure your focus is on the customer.
2. Encourages Engagement From One Medium to Another
The longer you can keep someone focused on your message the more you can increase future brand recognition. In fact, researchers found consumers have 74% brand recall after viewing ads on multiple platforms.* For this reason, all of your advertising channels should encourage consumers to connect with your brand in another way.
For example, if you put up a traditional sign or billboard, let people know you’re also a part of the online world by displaying easily recognizable social buttons with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, URL listed underneath the network logo. Or, even better, make it simple for consumers to access your online pages right then by putting a QR code directly on the sign.
Another way to encourage engagement across different platforms is by using teasers. Recently, this tactic has been seen quite a bit in TV commercials where the ad ends and the audience is left wondering what will happen next or curious to see the second half of a funny story. But, to see the next part, viewers have to go to the company’s website or YouTube channel, and once there, they find further opportunities for involvement, such as connecting with the brand’s social page, signing up for email newsletters, or even following a call to action.
There are tons of other ways besides QR codes and teasers to integrate multiple platforms, including basic things like putting a link to your blog on your Facebook page, but the principle is always the same — keep consumers interacting with your brand on as many channels as possible.
How to do it?
As mentioned, many brands are attempting integrated marketing but few are executing it successfully. And that’s a pity for both businesses and consumers, because businesses need it and consumer want it. A recent study found 72% of consumers would like an integrated marketing approach yet only 39% felt they were getting it.**
The only way to achieve a winning integrated marketing campaign is by having everyone on your team working together. In other words, the social media experts, bloggers, web designers, traditional marketers, and everyone else involved should know what the others are doing and actually meet together to plan a comprehensive marketing strategy. Then each person should use their area of expertise and their assigned channel to accomplish that overall goal.
The age of the “silos” where every team member focuses solely on delivering his own product is over. Collaboration among the various platforms is the only way to advertise to the new market with its multitude of channels and varied consumer interests.