With 2017 just around the corner, as the client side marketing voice at DVO, I want to bang the drum for integrated marketing. We’re in peak planning season so it’s the perfect time to make sure integrated marketing is firmly on your agenda, we’re full service it’s always on ours.

Whether it’s referred to as multi-channel, omni-channel or some other term [insert buzzword] yet to be coined, integrated marketing is a hot topic. From the outside looking in it seems to me the amount of talk vs. the amount of implementation is very unbalanced, so this week I thought I’d offer up some insights and practical solutions around integrated campaigns.

What is integrated marketing?

Put very simply, integrated marketing is taking a strong centralised concept and communicating it across multiple channels in a coherent and consistent manner. Obviously, it’s not quite that straightforward. If it were, you wouldn’t find so many people professing to be experts in the field and endless ‘how to’ guides on the subject matter.

Why should I be thinking integrated?

Because it’s how your customer behaves, that’s why. Consumer choice has never been wider. Your most powerful tool in winning customers is your brand experience and, put simply, this is the sum of a consumers interactions with your brand across all the channels they have access to. With myriad channels available, the amount of communication touchpoints can be hard to get a handle on. But handle it you must. Key to effective integrated marketing is understanding exactly who your customers are and how they behave. Putting the time and effort into mapping out (in as much detail as possible) the customer journey will never be time wasted. We see a large amount of isolated tactical activity taking place and then trying to be shoehorned back into some kind of strategy. We see this A LOT. And we can tell you, it does not work, it will be expensive and require a huge amount of effort for very little return. Much better to start with an overarching plan that takes the customer journey into account, which will help you plan and manage your channels.

You can’t escape the fact that today’s consumer is digital. It’s how people communicate with each other, how they shop, where they get their information from and even where they socialise. So brands need to fully embrace this. That being said, we’re not advocating jumping on board with every single digital channel out there. By taking the time to understand your audience’s needs and wants as well as their behaviour, you can develop a strategy that optimises the channels that are relevant to your business and focus on these. Far better to do a few things well than do everything badly. If your customer doesn’t want to interact with your brand via mobile app, then don’t build one just because everyone else seems to be doing it.
If you’ve got a good brand strategy in place, then a lot of this work should already be in hand and should feed into your marketing strategy. If you’ve not, have a read of this post for some useful advice and then give us a call.

Having a clear, concise brand should unify a business, which is essentially what integrated marketing is all about. Do the research, understand the audience, set objectives, measure and refine. Simple really.

Integrated vs. content marketing.

We see a lot of conversation playing integrated marketing off against content marketing and inbound strategies, and we’re not really sure why. It’s just another way to keep the silo mentality going. In our opinion, they are not mutually exclusive. Good content marketing should play a role in integrated marketing communications. Yes, content and content marketing is a real hot topic right now, but it does not work effectively as a standalone function. After all, what’s the point of having great content if no one gets to see it? That’s where pulling in the right channels to communicate your messaging comes into play. Make that content work for you, be it at a campaign level or higher up the chain.

Tips for getting integrated marketing right?

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Your brand and your business are unique to you. Your combination of people, products, services, customers and processes cannot be replicated. As such, there is no hard and fast rules on the ‘right’ way to implement integrated marketing and make it work. But we like to be helpful, so here are a few hints and tips on what works.

  • As we’ve mentioned, do your homework. We cannot stress enough how decent planning and research is vital in putting together any kind of marketing strategy. Know yourself and understand your customer.
  • Understand your channels. We appreciate that you can’t necessarily become an expert in every single channel, function, process and platform. No one can. But try and arm yourself with some basic knowledge of how they work, how they’re used, and most importantly, how they can be analysed.
  • Know what success looks like. Too often we see the moving of the proverbial goalposts, or, even more worrying, no set objectives, KPIs or performance reporting. You’d be amazed at how much activity rolls out day after day and never actually gets analysed. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, how can you be sure the activity, and likely costs associated, are worth it?
  • Get geeky. Marketing is not about restaurant launches, celebrity endorsements and freebies. It’s about spreadsheets, it’s about lists, it’s being ridiculous organised, meticulous and analytical. Go granular, it’s the only way to ensure integration across your activity really works. Make a plan, refine it, refer to it constantly. And make sure everyone else involved is working to that same plan. The devil is in the detail, so lay it all out.
  • Listen. We often forget that marketing is a two-way conversation, it’s not just us telling the world how wonderful something is. It’s listening to your customers, engaging, responding and refining what you’re doing based on that feedback. With digital channels, this conversation happens in lots of places. Make sure you’re a part of it.
  • Content is key. Be interesting, be relevant, be pro-active. Make your content work hard for you. Ensure what you’re producing works across all the relevant channels, otherwise you’re going to run yourself ragged trying to cover them all off with different content.
    Make your content engaging. If you’ve taken the time to get to know your target customer (have we mentioned how important this is?) then you should have a clear idea of what they want in terms of content. What will excite them and elicit a response? Be creative. Stand out.
  • Analyse as much as you can. Even if it’s just basic analytics of your website, your social media channels or your email blasts. Do it. There are great tools available to help you, the free ones are fine. Use them. Know where people are coming from, what they’re doing, how they’re interacting. No channel is an island, understanding how your customer moves from one to another is integral to truly integrated marketing.
  • Don’t be scared of trying something new. Digital channels are great for testing new ideas and activations. And often very cheap to produce for. Video is becoming huge; Facebook has now overtaken YouTube for desktop views. That’s a lot of people watching a heck of a lot of videos. Although it’s probably mostly me getting lost watching Tasty cooking videos for hours on end. We’re huge fans of using video and it makes up a large part of the work we do for clients. It’s engaging, effective and is easily transferable across a large number of channels, so it can be highly cost effective.
  • A useful model to use when it comes to integrated marketing is Pickton and Broderick’s 4Cs; Coherence, Consistency, Continuity and Complementary. Can you apply these across your integrated marketing activity? If no, go back and tweak it.

An integrated marketing case study.

We blended different communications strategies around a digital experience for Hayes & Jarvis to highlight them as a provider of standalone trips to New York, something they wanted to sell more of.

The simple premise at the heart was that most people only scratch the surface of New York, treading a well-worn tourist path. New York has so much more to offer.

Here’s a breakdown of the campaign into the cornerstones of a good integrated campaign.

Coherence: all the communications highlighted something unique and interesting about New York, sourced specifically from on the ground experts. The app at the heart was based around curated shopping trips in New York. Communications were digitally based covering paid, earned, and owned channels.

Consistency: all the communications adhered to the central premise and drove the user to onsite content and the app download.

Continuity: the nature of the onsite and app content allowed for ongoing content additions that could then form the basis of tactical campaigns to highlight them.

Complementary: the cross-platform interactions were heavily influenced by consumer need at the different touch points. This allowed the campaign to grow and reach a wider audience through social media.

Result, more holidays sold to New York.

If you are trapped in a silo and want to get integrated but aren’t sure how we’d love to help. We’ve got some simple techniques we can use to set you down an integrated path and get your communications working harder. Contact us here, or give us a call, 0203 771 2641.

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