Modern marketers have more channels available to influence buyers than ever before, and it’s critical to maximize the impact of as many of these channels as possible. However, marketing through multiple channels also introduces a challenge: the more channels you use, the harder it becomes to ensure that the messaging remains consistent and complementary.
Integrated marketing provides marketers with the ability to deliver a cohesive narrative about their brand and achieve greater impact with their campaigns.
What is Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing is a strategy for delivering a unified, holistic message across all of the marketing channels that your brand uses. Integrated marketing provides consistency wherever customers choose to interact with a brand. Without integrated marketing, you risk delivering mixed messages or communicating in a disconnected voice, which can make your brand seem fragmented and disorganized to your customers.
For example, whether a customer is viewing marketing content on desktop or mobile, the experience and message should remain the same. And a customer who asks questions about a product through an automated chatbot service on your website should receive the same takeaways as someone who participates in a live call with a sales representative.
Given the complexity of modern marketing channels, integrated marketing doesn’t typically happen without focused planning and effort — but the investment is well worth it.
Why Use Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing offers several advantages that can make your marketing operation more effective.
One way to ensure that your ads and other marketing resources make a lasting impression is to integrate them into a consistent narrative that can be implemented across multiple channels of delivery. Prospective customers will recall a billboard ad better when its content reminds them of another ad viewed online. And they’ll be even more likely to engage with ads that mirror interactions they may have recently had with your brand on social media.
Improved marketing campaign performance
Greater consistency within your brand’s narrative associated with integrated marketing leads to better overall campaign performance. Companies that lead in marketing results are 1.5 times more likely to have an integrated technology solution in place that helps them convey the same narrative across all of their channels.
Reduced costs and better value
Integrating your marketing channels can also reduce the costs of creating marketing content by allowing you to reuse the same content across different channels. If you have a brand mascot, for example, you can use images and video of the mascot in both online and offline marketing media.
In a similar way, you can distribute the same talking points to sales representatives in different locations or at different events to synchronize your messaging. Not only are practices like these more effective due to narrative consistency, they help to reduce your overhead as well.
Consistent customer experience
It’s not just marketers who benefit from integrated marketing. Customers will also appreciate the consistency and predictability that come with a unified brand narrative. The added familiarity makes it easier for them to understand what you do and how you can help them. In this respect, integrated marketing goes hand-in-hand with omnichannel marketing as a way to provide the most satisfying customer experiences.
Now let’s take a look at how to craft an integrated marketing strategy that delivers these benefits.
Guidelines to creating an Integrated Marketing Strategy.
Follow these guidelines when crafting your integrated marketing strategy for best results.
Combine your marketing channels
Marketing channels can be integrated in multiple ways. One common approach is using the same visual elements in different contexts. Another is ensuring consistent language for how you talk about and portray the brand.
Use multiple strategies to combine marketing channels, but be sure to choose strategies that make most sense based on your marketing needs and resources. If some of your channels — for example, online and television ads — are visual, but others are not, it will be harder to leverage your visual elements for consistency. Likewise, if some channels are interactive and others are outbound-only, you should choose marketing content and strategies that work for each.
Your approach to combining marketing channels should also reflect which buying cycle stages are being reinforced. If your campaigns focus on top-of-funnel lead generation, sending a consistent message about brand value and the types of solutions you offer will be most important. In contrast, middle-of-funnel resources might focus on addressing common sales objections across different channels, so that you can send a consistent message on this theme to audiences who are aware of your brand and need to be moved toward conversion.
Collect and analyze customer data
Your integrated marketing strategy should be driven by data about your customers’ behavior, and it should be updated regularly in response to new data. By collecting and analyzing data from all your marketing channels, you can identify which channels are most effective. This also helps to determine where you may need to invest more resources to make your messaging more consistent. If data shows that one channel is under-performing, for example, that could be a sign that it lacks the messaging consistency present in other channels.
The KPIs for data collection and analysis will vary depending on your industry and which marketing channels you deploy. In general, here are some key data points to focus on:
- Exposure. How many prospects are exposed to marketing resources in each channel?
- Engagement. How many prospects actively engage with resources in each channel?
- Repeat engagement. How often does the same prospect re-engage with a resource after viewing it initially? Do repeat engagements take place across different channels, or do they happen within the same channel?
- Peak engagement periods. Which times of day, days of the week, or seasonal periods see the highest engagement over different channels?
- Buyer journey status. How do levels of engagement vary across buyer types? Are you seeing more engagement from new leads, for example, than from buyers who are further down in the sales funnel?
It’s often difficult to know which marketing strategies will be most effective for integrated marketing before you launch a campaign, so test your content in advance. Marketing technology brands offer A/B testing capabilities where you can send variations of your content to determine which variables — such as images, colors, or product offer — have the highest impact on your audience.
Lean into inter-department expertise
Given that integrated marketing spans multiple channels and involves an array of different resources and platforms, it requires engaging with different teams across your organization.
The marketing and sales teams obviously play a key role in determining how to execute integrated marketing campaigns, but you should draw on the expertise of groups such as your software development team as well, as they can advise you on which types of digital marketing resources can be developed moving forward. Coordinating with multiple stakeholders will help provide you with a broader view of how you can attend to more of your customers’ needs more effectively.
Use a marketing automation platform
Manually managing the many variables and data sources involved in integrated marketing would be incredibly difficult and time consuming. Instead, make use of a marketing automation platform that can help you track KPIs across channels, engage customers, measure ROI, identify the most promising leads, and more.
Craft an engaging narrative
At the core of integrated marketing is a compelling and engaging brand narrative. The marketing messages you deliver in each channel should build upon each other, and should progressively educate your audience as they continue to interact with your brand.
The story could be about the history of your brand. It could be oriented around customer success stories. It could be a fictional narrative built around a brand mascot. Whatever the approach, the goal should be to convey a narrative that customers want to keep following and learn more about as they engage and re-engage across different channels.
Integrated Marketing Done Right: Two Real-World Examples
No matter the size of your marketing team and budget, which vertical you operate in, or what audience you’re trying to reach, you can build a successful integrated marketing strategy by following the practices described above, as the following companies have done.
CenturyLink builds a single source of truth for marketing
CenturyLink, a global provider of telecommunication services, markets through a broad number of channels. It must meet the needs of its business and individual customers while connecting marketing teams that are spread across eight different organizations.
To address these needs, CenturyLink leveraged marketing automation tools to build a “single source of truth for marketing” that its teams could use to coordinate activities across all channels. By centralizing data from multiple channels within a single hub, CenturyLink was able to maintain a consistent message while executing broad, multi-touch campaigns.
PFL breaks down marketing silos
PFL, a provider of print sales-enablement services, faced a significant challenge as it sought to optimize its marketing strategy: a siloed marketing architecture. Previously, the company had a different marketing strategy for each channel, which made it difficult to deliver a consistent narrative.
With the help of a marketing automation solution, PFL was able to break down those silos and replace them with an integrated marketing operation. Now the company achieves marketing consistency across social media, email, web, direct mailing, and other marketing channels.
Integrate Your Marketing Efforts and Realize the Benefits
As you can see from these real-world examples, developing an effective integrated marketing strategy is well within reach if you use the right technology. Integrated marketing does deliver more effective results at a lower cost, but be warned — if you’re trying to manage integrated marketing operations manually, you’re fighting a losing battle.
With Marketo Engage, a comprehensive marketing automation solution, you can streamline your integrated marketing strategy and scale it to function across as many channels as you need to support. Marketo makes it easy to centralize marketing analytics, manage profiles for multiple lead types, and deploy marketing content across multiple channels quickly and automatically.
To see for yourself how Marketo can enable integrated marketing for your brand, take an interactive tour today.