Marketing isn’t a new concept but with the development of the internet and the growth of social media, integrated marketing has taken on new meaning. Where once it might have meant a TV ad and a newspaper ad that had some similarities, it now means integrating marketing across all platforms from email and the website to print ads, social media and search engines. So how can you plan an integrated marketing approach for your business?

Understanding integrated marketing

To start planning a campaign that integrates all marketing together, it is best to first start with a clear understanding of what this approach is and what can work with it. Experts often define integrated marketing as ‘a strategic approach to integrated communication and interactive experiences targeting defined audiences and individuals which coordinate all aspects of marketing’ – Smart Insights

Within this approach, there are three main areas of marketing to consider:

  • Paid media – including offline advertising, direct marketing, online display ads
  • Owned media – social media, on-site user experience, direct messaging through email and mobile devices, customer services responses
  • Earned media – organic search results for content marketing, PR and influencer marketing

The idea is to create a unified approach to all of these elements that makes for a seamless experience for a customer. This includes advertising, sales promotion, PR activities, direct marketing and social media through a variety of tactics, methods, activities and channels.

Why use integrated marketing?

To understand the benefits of integrating marketing, it is worth considering the nature of the different channels that you can utilise for marketing efforts. Twitter is great for those sharp, attention-grabbing messages while Pinterest is all about the visuals. Behind the scenes, content does well on some sites not on others and video is relatively popular but comes in different lengths and formats.

One unifying factor with marketing across different channels is that it needs to have a common thread to work. People start to recognise things when they see variations of it on different channels, but the same message might not work if it is exactly the same on every channel because of those vagaries.

In fact, 85% of people asked in a marketing agency survey said they couldn’t give an example of a memorable story told by a brand. But 66% of them said they wanted to hear and see stories about real people within the company and over half would be more likely to buy a product if they liked and enjoyed the brand story. This shows that integrated marketing can have a huge impact when done right.

Planning an Integrated Marketing strategy

When planning an integrated marketing strategy, there are some key points to consider to increase the chances of success.

  1. Recognise your audience : Research is key to the planning stage because it is here that you start to recognise your audience and learn how to market to them. You can even do some audience reaction testing in a live campaign using A/B testing to help quickly isolate who you are marketing to and what works for them.
  2. Make the plan detailed : Just saying you are going to integrate your marketing isn’t enough – you need a detailed plan that looks at all aspects of marketing your company plans to use and how to integrate them. A line by line plan is the most common approach and sets the framework for all of the work being done as well as tracking needed to ensure efforts are working.
  3. Don’t try and do everything : While the point of integrated marketing is to make everything have a common theme and content it doesn’t mean you have to try and marketing everywhere. Have set goals for the plan and then choose the marketing platforms around them. So, if you want to improve your website in the search engines, then you might look at content marketing, advertising through AdWords, specific social media sites that are used by your audience and email marketing.
  4. Track everything : How do you know what works? By tracking everything and keeping on top of those analytics. From Google Analytics to social media platform data and paid tools, marketers use everything possible to help them get information on their efforts. While not changing things on a daily basis, this information can be used to create a picture and make changes where needed.
  5. Ensure marketing is contextually relevant : You don’t want to change your marketing content every day as this will never build recognition in the customer’s mind but there are times when changes are needed. Big examples including Christmas, Halloween, Easter and other holidays – once these have passed then advertising referring to them is no longer contextually relevant and can be changed.
  6. Integrate with customer services : Customer services were mentioned as one of the types of marketing aspects and this is one to re-emphasise. Your customers give you feedback through your customer services team and it is important to listen to this and use it. If people keep mentioning they saw an advert, then this is a good sign – unless they say it was irritating or too frequent or didn’t make sense! Get feedback through customer services to help monitor campaign effectiveness.
  7. Ensure it is valuable : Marketing is valuable for the business as it draws potential new customers to it. But it also needs to be valuable for the customer or they will ignore it. Valuable doesn’t need to be a monetary matter – it could be informative, helpful, instructional, funny or create an emotional response. All of these are valuable in different ways.

Conclusion

There are good reasons why the biggest businesses all have integrated marketing campaigns. When you go to their Facebook Page, their Pinterest profile or Google their website, you can see a similarity that goes beyond just branding. This is integrated marketing in effect and helps people build that relationship with the brand. Without it, messages can clash, become lost in the noise and simply ignored. With it, you can make a place in a customer’s mind for your company and stay there until they need you.

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