Brands wielding an integrated marketing strategy are more likely to reach their customers

Today’s consumers don’t distinguish between different marketing channels. They want to interact with brands whenever they want through a platform of their choice.

Brands that implement an integrated marketing strategy — that is, using various touchpoints in tandem to communicate with their audiences — are more likely to reach their customers in the right place and at the right time to increase engagement and sales.

Executing well-designed integrated marketing strategies allows you to deliver a consistent message and customer experience across all the channels. However, it isn’t always easy to manage such a campaign as there can be many moving parts.

Thankfully, you can get the most out of an integrated marketing campaign by following some tried-and-true steps and best practices. Here’s a comprehensive, integrated marketing guide on how to design an effective strategy and execute a successful campaign.

Why Are Integrated Marketing Campaigns Effective?

The bottom line is that integrated marketing can help maximize results.

An integrated marketing strategy aligns all the marketing channels with delivering a consistent brand experience to your prospects and customers. It reinforces your brand image and multiplies the effectiveness of each component of the campaign.

Here’s why you should use integrated marketing campaigns:

  • They can reach a larger audience than any single marketing channel to help increase brand exposure and build brand awareness.
  • More people likely will see the campaigns multiple times, allowing your brand to stay top of mind and have more opportunities to progress prospects along the buyer’s journey.
  • They deliver a consistent brand message through various touchpoints to build trust and relationships with your target market.
  • They’re more cost-efficient than running different campaigns because you can repurpose the same assets for various marketing platforms. For example, the same video can be shared on YouTube, Facebook and your website.

How to Build an Integrated Marketing Campaign

  1. Define the campaign goal and align it with overall marketing objectives.
  2. Select marketing channels complementary to the campaign goal.
  3. Create buyer personas for each channel.
  4. Set goals and define key performance indicators (KPIs) for each channel.
  5. Design consistent messaging and create adaptable assets.
  6. Assign channel managers to ensure seamless implementation.
  7. Launch the campaign, analyze metrics and make improvements.

Here are the key steps to forming an effective integrated marketing campaign:

1. Define the Campaign Goal

Defining the campaign goal can help you target the right audience segment, select the most effective channels and create the most relevant asset to reach the right people so you can optimize the campaign’s return on investment (ROI).

While each campaign has a different purpose, such as building brand awareness, generating leads or promoting a product, it should align with your overall marketing objectives and brand image. Also, consider how it could impact sales, profits and the bottom line in the long-run to help you define the right KPIs to measure success.

Then, set SMART goals, namely ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Defining the right metrics not only will help you track progress and make improvements but establish accountability and encourage collaboration across teams.

2. Select Marketing Channels

The marketing channels you use should allow you to reach a target audience and convey your message effectively. For example, email and retargeting ads on social media are great for promoting to existing customers, while a billboard or radio ad may be more effective for building awareness in a new geographic market.

Here are the major marketing channels to consider for an integrated marketing campaign: direct marketing, email marketing, print and pay-per-click (PPC) ads, digital marketing, events and sponsorship, public relations, social media and packaging.

Select a variety of marketing channels that are complementary to each other to increase exposure while driving home the campaign message with a consistent narrative. Keep track of each channel’s performance and don’t hesitate to add new ones or remove those that aren’t performing as the campaign progresses.

3. Create Buyer Personas

You should tailor the messaging and creative assets for each touchpoint based on the audience and channel. For instance, you may be targeting different audience segments on different platforms or the same audience may interact differently with the content on each channel.

To better understand who you’re addressing at each touchpoint, define buyer personas by channel to make sure that you know the demographic, psychographic, preferences, pain points, habits, etc., of the target audience.

While there’s likely to be overlap between the personas for the various channels, it’s worthwhile to go through this process so you can capture the nuances and fine-tune the messaging at each touchpoint to maximize results.

Define buyer personas by channel to make sure that you know the demographic, psychographic, preferences, pain points, habits, etc., of the target audience.

4. Define KPIs for Each Channel

Different channels have different strengths and you should leverage them strategically to achieve the overarching campaign objectives. It’s essential to define a goal for each channel and set the right KPIs to measure its effectiveness.

Here are some KPIs and related metrics you should consider:

  • Traffic, measured by unique page views and sources
  • Engagement, tracked by bounce rate and average dwell time
  • Impact, measured by click-throughs, conversions and backlinks
  • Sentiment, gauged by comments and social shares
  • Lead generation, tracked by total leads and session-to-lead conversion rate
  • Sales, measured by customer purchase

5. Design Messaging and Create Assets

After defining your campaign goals, as well as the target audience and KPIs for each channel, you can now create the content for your campaign. While you should maintain a unified message across all the touchpoints, the copy and assets need to be adapted for each channel to maximize its effectiveness.

However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each channel — adaptability is the name of the game. To keep your campaign consistent while optimizing the ROI, create content that can be reused for various marketing platforms. For example, a video can be repurposed to create still images, quotes, GIFs, blog posts, infographics or soundbites.

When you’re adapting assets for different channels, make sure they adhere to the brand guidelines and work synergistically to deliver a consistent experience. They also should meet the requirements of each platform, such as image size, to ensure they’re displayed correctly. The good news is that there are many software applications you can use to crop videos and resize images automatically to save time and cost.

6. Assign Channel Managers

Running an integrated marketing campaign requires different expertise in the various platforms to optimize results. Assign team members with the appropriate skill set to be in charge of each channel. Facilitate close collaboration among these managers to ensure the delivery of a consistent experience across channels.

Each channel manager is responsible for tailoring the content and overseeing the implementation of the campaign. Some of the key activities include creating audience segments, determining posting cadence, optimizing tactics and reporting results.

If you have a smaller marketing team, you may have one person handling multiple channels. In that case, make sure the workload remains reasonable so team members aren’t stretched too thin, which could compromise the success of the campaign.

7. Launch, Analyze and Improve

Running an integrated marketing campaign is an iterative process and the work isn’t done after the campaign is launched. You need to continually analyze the KPIs you have established for the overarching goal as well as each channel so you can monitor progress, respond to market changes proactively and course-correct when necessary.

In some cases, you may need to update the creative assets and messaging of a campaign — for example, if the response rate doesn’t meet expectations, current events change the audience sentiment or you have determined a clear “winner” in A/B testing.

In addition, you should review the lessons learned after each integrated marketing campaign to apply the experience to future initiatives. This will help you continuously evolve and stay current with the latest consumer expectations and market trends.

Strategies and Best Practices for Integrated Marketing

While every campaign is different, you should follow these general strategies and best practices to ensure the success of an integrated marketing initiative:

Facilitate Internal Alignment and Collaboration

To ensure consistent messaging and effective sharing of assets, all the channel managers should be in constant communication with each other. If you’re executing multiple integrated marketing campaigns simultaneously, make sure the various projects are complementing each other to avoid a fragmented customer experience.

Close collaboration not only helps deliver a consistent brand experience, it allows channel managers to share information about the audience and market trends. Insights gained from one platform can be applied to another to fine-tune the campaign and optimize results.

To effectively coordinate efforts across external agencies, appoint an in-house resource to monitor the various projects.

Coordinate With External Agencies and Partners

Working with external agencies allows you to access the latest strategies and technologies without the overhead associated with assembling an in-house team. However, these partners must communicate and collaborate seamlessly so everyone is on the same page to avoid a disjointed brand experience or duplicate work, such as creating the same asset multiple times.

To effectively coordinate efforts across external agencies, appoint an in-house resource to monitor the various projects. In particular, this in-house manager should focus on ensuring the overall brand image and messaging are consistent across all channels and campaigns.

Deliver a Seamless Omnichannel Experience

Your audience likely will encounter different components of your campaign at various touchpoints at different times. When they transition from one channel to another, is the experience conducive to guiding them along the customer journey and toward conversion?

For example, if people see a print ad promoting a specific offer but were directed to a web page that shows a different product or a higher price when they visit the website, they’d likely click away and may even develop an unfavorable impression toward your brand.

Leverage the Latest Technologies

Provide your team with the latest marketing technologies so they can manage all the moving parts in an integrated marketing campaign that is cost-efficient. For example, use an asset-management platform so they can share assets internally and with external agencies.

Also, most software applications integrate with other popular platforms, allowing you to manage various components of a campaign all in one place. This can help minimize errors and delays while increasing the effectiveness of the campaign. For instance, you can integrate a customer-data-management platform with your email marketing tool to send out the most relevant content and offers to the appropriate customer segment.

Cross-Promote Channels to Eliminate Silos

Successful integrated marketing campaigns break down silos common in typical marketing practices when teams responsible for different projects and channels aren’t collaborating closely to align their messaging and creative assets. This can lead to potentially disjointed user experience.

On the other hand, integrated marketing gives you the advantage of connecting with your audience and letting them experience your brand more frequently and from different perspectives to accelerate the “like, know and trust” factor. You can enhance overlaps and cross-pollination among the channels by:

  • Adding links to your social media handles in promotional emails or newsletters.
  • Including links to your website in all your social media profiles.
  • Embedding your social media posts on your website, such as in blog posts or on a testimonial page.
  • Incorporating social media sharing buttons on your website.
  • Optimizing for search engine optimization and relevant keywords in landing pages.

Examples of Well-Executed Integrated Marketing Campaigns

Wondering what an effective integrated marketing campaign looks like? Here are a few examples to stir inspiration:

Southwest Airlines: Transfarency

This integrated marketing campaign had a very specific objective: to promote the company as an airline with straightforward pricing and no hidden fees. New elements, themes and stories have been added since its launch to elongate the campaign and solidify the brand message.

A large variety of marketing channels were used, including a dedicated landing page, print ads, billboards on airport walls, videos spots, and a lot of user-generated content on social media to ensure that the campaign was reaching as many travelers as possible in the right context and at the right time.

Southwest Airlines promoted straightforward pricing and no hidden fees.

Old Spice: Smell Like a Man, Man

Old Spice wanted to attract a new audience of younger demographic with this integrated marketing campaign. The campaign supported an overall rebranding effort that included an upgrade to the brand’s packaging, a name change to its product, and a new tagline, “Smell Like a Man, Man.”

While the 30-second TV spot was the most attention-grabbing piece, the campaign also utilized websites, product pages, Instagram, YouTube, and other channels to reach its target audience. All the components carried the same tone, theme and branding to deliver a consistent brand experience over time and across all touchpoints.

Old Spice aimed to draw a new audience of younger demographic with its integrated marketing campaign.

Integrated Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

There are many moving parts when it comes to executing a successful integrated marketing campaign. It’s important to align your internal and external teams, set goals and identify the right KPIs, stay consistent in your assets and messaging, as well as use the appropriate technologies to ensure seamless implementation.

That said, it’s worth investing the time and effort since successful integrated marketing campaigns are highly effective in reaching and engaging a larger market. They allow you to gain more exposure, build brand awareness and accelerate prospects down the purchasing path. When you use a consistent message and adapt the content so it’s relevant to the context, you cultivate trust and foster relationships with your audience.

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