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With rapid advancements in marketing technologies, it has become increasingly challenging for companies across different industries to stay ahead of the competition and have their advertising messages reach current and prospective consumers. People have become too accustomed to the constant noise from the 24/7 exposure to a complex ecosystem abuzz with a growing influx of innovative devices, products, channels, and markets. Whether you are a business-to-business company or a direct-to-consumer brand, making the right impact on your target audience has never been so difficult.

To gain and retain their attention for the long-term, it has become more crucial than ever to prioritize a strong marketing strategy and that is where integrated marketing can make a credible difference.

What Is Integrated Marketing?

Integrated marketing is a strategic, collaborative, promotional, and customer-centric marketing process that amplifies your brand messaging by delivering relevant, persuasive, interactive, and consistent content to your target audience across all available channels and assets. Another integrated marketing definition would be that it is a multi-dimensional and well-coordinated marketing communication approach that helps your brand achieve its organizational goals by focusing on creating better brand awareness and assisting buyers through their entire decision-making process.

You may often hear integrated marketing used synonymously with omnichannel marketing, 360-degree campaigns, and other marketing terms. While there are similarities between these marketing processes, they are not the same. The focus of omnichannel marketing, for instance, is on multi-channel sales, while 360-degree marketing is concerned with marketing automation to reach customers with consistent messaging. Integrated marketing, on the other hand, takes a more holistic approach.

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A successful integrated marketing plan involves unifying different traditional and innovative marketing communication avenues. You want your target audience to come across your brand when they surf, socialize, and shop online, and also when they are going about their regular activities in everyday life. The idea is to create a seamless brand identity that can resonate with current and prospective customers and leave a lasting impression on them.

By using the right combination of brand name, brand slogans, brand logo, brand colors, brand design, brand packaging, and other brand-related factors, you can create favorable and memorable associations in consumers’ minds. And, of course, the branding will distinctively differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors. So, the next time your prospects need to buy or recommend the type of products and services your business offers, they will instantly recollect your brand.

Along with building your brand equity, integrated marketing also focuses on developing and nurturing meaningful relationships with the consumers.

To stay on top of your game, though, your integrated marketing communication techniques will need to be both consistent and flexible. You must ensure that your messaging retains the same feel and tone across different channels. At the same time, you must be able to adapt it to meet your customers’ preferences and expectations.

In the current technology-driven environment, customers are no longer passive receivers of whatever is communicated to them. They are savvy about advertising, have better access to information, and are on the lookout for good deals. For your communication to be effective, you must understand and provide what they want.

Image via Flickr by deepakiqlect 

Who Can Benefit From Integrated Marketing?

Established and emerging companies of various sizes can benefit from integrated marketing. Given the cut-throat competition at all levels in local, national, and international markets, most businesses cannot afford to be complacent in their marketing efforts. The smallest slackening could mean customers lost to the competitors. With integrated marketing, it is possible to find the right combination of solutions and maintain a consistent, ongoing marketing campaign to keep your brand in the public eye.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of integrated marketing.

Better Collaboration Across Departments

The integrated marketing process can make the planning and execution of marketing campaigns easier for the different departments of your company. Unlike traditional marketing, where a siloed mentality prevails, integrated marketing takes a unified, holistic approach to marketing and encourages collaborative activities between teams from different departments.

People can use Slack and other online tools to engage in cross-departmental discussions and make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the company’s marketing goals and plans when launching products, services, and brands. They can set up a central hub to store and access content and have transparency in their marketing end-to-end process. Furthermore, they can avoid delays in the deployment of marketing campaigns.

Clear and Consistent Marketing Strategy

By implementing an integrated marketing plan, brands can meld different marketing aspects such as advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, social media, and public relations. They will have the flexibility to use and align a mix of different action plans, advertising methods, and promotional channels to improve operational efficiency and achieve a unified result.

Given that integrated marketing takes place across multiple channels and assets, you can get better marketing campaign performances than you would if you stuck to advertising on one or two promotional avenues. By combining the various available communication tools, employing focused messaging, and implementing a cohesive marketing strategy, you can be more effective in reaching out to the right audience.

Effective Online Search Results

As integrated marketing will include search engine optimization and search engine marketing, you will have the coverage you need when it comes to online search results. Every time existing or prospective customers search for the type of products and services you offer, they will come across your brand and your brand-related content and media placements. It may nudge them towards considering your brand when making their buying decisions.

Improved Media Coverage

When there are regular positive reports about your brand in reputed media publications, consumers are likely to take notice and perceive your brand as a trustworthy and desirable one. Incorporating interesting, appealing, and inspiring stories about your brand is a great way to stay in the spotlight and gain new customers.

Industry Thought Leadership

Integrated marketing will allow you to participate in timely conversations about relevant trends and topics across different online media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. You will be able to offer judicious insights and position your brand as a thought leader in your industry. It will help you to connect and engage with industry professionals, influencers, and customers, and your business is likely to see an upswing.

Increased Brand Visibility

With integrated marketing, you can implement pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing, and make sure that your brand appears on as many public platforms as possible. That will result in increased brand visibility and enable more prospective customers to discover and buy your products and services. As your branding will remain consistent across all platforms, they will learn to recognize and trust your brand. Enabling people to have a seamless and satisfying experience in their interactions with your brand could lead to return customers and a build-up of brand loyalty.

Cost-Effective Marketing

Another important benefit of implementing an integrated marketing strategy is that your company could end up saving time and money on your advertising campaigns. Even though your marketing is spread out, you will be extending the same campaign across multiple channels. You may have to customize it to fit specific channels, of course, but you won’t have to pool your resources to create a new one from scratch.

When Can You Use Integrated Marketing?

Integrated marketing is an always-on communication process aimed at customer attraction and acquisition. To go by the integrated marketing campaign definition, the main goal is to increase customer conversions by delivering a truly integrated and memorable brand experience to a specific audience through consistent messaging via multiple channels.

Before launching an integrated marketing campaign, you must consider who your target demographic is, what they want, and what they do or are willing to do to fulfill their wants. You must know where these target groups tend to congregate online and offline, and you must establish your brand presence on those channels and in those locations. Additionally, you need to research when your prospects are most likely to be available and interested and schedule your marketing posts and events to coincide with those timings.

To build better brand awareness and reinforce campaign themes, you must make sure that your branding is on point and instantly recognizable with uniform brand colors, imagery, and messaging. You will also need to be creatively consistent with fonts, graphics, headlines, and phrases across different media and platforms. Viewers must be able to make an immediate and coherent association with your brand when they see the campaign.

As customer behaviors can be unpredictable and are liable to change with trends, it is important to take an agile approach to your brand marketing. Having siloed marketing teams will not work in integrated marketing. Rather than having a competitive culture where different teams tend to clash for opportunities, budgets, ideas, and awards, you will get better results by fostering a collaborative environment.

Where Can You Use Integrated Marketing?

You can use integrated marketing across different paid, earned, and owned media channels and assets. While you emphatically want to be creative and original in your marketing efforts, that alone won’t get you the desired results. To reach your target customers and persuade them to buy your products and services, you must know how to diversify and spread your advertising campaigns across multiple platforms.

For instance, when planning an online marketing strategy, you must keep in mind that the internet isn’t a single entity and develop a campaign that reflects that. So, it wouldn’t do to focus solely on websites and social media, but you must also pay attention to online forums, news portals, and search engines. It will help too to integrate various traditional advertising forms and use them to round up your campaign.

You can amplify your brand messaging with the following:

  • Paid Media: It includes various offline and online advertising methods and platforms that charge you for the promotion. These can include radio, television, magazine, and newspaper advertisements.
  • Earned Media: This type of marketing works through the organic publicity you can garner by undertaking content marketing, posting on social media, reaching out to influencers, managing brand reputation, engaging with fans, and participating in public relations events.
  • Owned Media: Marketing via owned media involves marketing through assets that your brand owns. These can cover your website content, landing pages, pop-ups, newsletters, email, phone text messages, and customer service.

To meet the requirements of the integrated promotional strategy definition and organize an effective integrated marketing campaign, you will need to cover the following key areas:

Print Marketing

Even though digital interactions are increasing the world over, you can still get public attention through print advertising. Aside from buying spots in newspapers and magazines, you can advertise through flyers, inserts, bookmarks, posters, banners, billboards, stickers, and more. It can be an effective way of getting consumers to notice your brand, especially those who don’t use the internet much or at all.

Online Banner Advertisements

These are useful for creating exposure and spreading online awareness of your brand. You can target your banner advertisements to reach specific demographics that are most likely to be interested in your products and services and to be shown specifically at those times when they would be most likely to purchase them.

Website Landing Pages

Every time someone clicks on your online advertisements, they will be directed to your website landing pages. The information on these landing pages should be enticing enough to make the visitors sign up for your email list and take the first step towards building a relationship with your brand. First impressions matter greatly with landing pages, so make sure that your message is powerful and well-presented.

Email Marketing

With email marketing, you can stay in touch with existing and prospective customers and keep them updated on your latest offerings. The great thing about email marketing is that it is a convenient, inexpensive, and personalized way of reaching out to your audience, and you can customize your messaging to fit what the customers want. Additionally, you can track how your recipients are responding to your marketing efforts. You can find out if they are opening your emails, clicking on the links, and making purchases.

Social Media Marketing

You can get quick results from social media marketing, but, at the same time, it is a medium that needs careful handling. Blunders can go viral instantly and end up tarnishing your brand. Before embarking on social media marketing, it is important to provide your marketing team with clear-cut guidelines on posting messages and responding to customers.

Make sure that you post only relevant content that your followers are likely to appreciate and find useful. If you do a good enough job, they will share your messages and, thus, assist you in promoting your brand. By engaging with them, you can make them feel special, and they will then be more likely to pay attention to your promotions and buy your products and services. Just make sure that your interactions remain respectful and courteous and that you don’t get into any controversies.

Search Engine Marketing

There are two types of search engine marketing that you can engage in, organic and paid. Organic search engine marketing involves making use of search engine optimization (SEO). By inserting relevant keywords and key phrases in your content, you can increase the chances of your website pages showing up in the search engine results when someone searches for those terms.

Depending on how valuable the search engine determines your content is, your website will get ranked higher or lower. To give yourself an advantage, you will need to keep improving your content and finding the right SEO keywords and phrases. It’s not an exact science, so you will have to keep tweaking until you get the desired results. Organic search engine marketing won’t cost you anything if you do it yourself, but if you have time constraints, it may be better to let the professionals handle it.

Paid search engine marketing involves paying to use specific, highly-ranked search words and terms. You may get better website ranking results with the paid service. You can also gain more brand visibility by paying to have your advertisements appear before, next to, or under the organic search results.

Direct Mail Marketing

By reaching out to your target buyers directly and offering them some well-designed direct mail pieces, you may be able to get appreciative reactions and build a positive public perception of your brand. You can send emails, text messages, catalogs, brochures, and promotional letters to remind them of your brand and what you can offer them. Direct mail marketing can also include gift items with your brand name printed on them, such as stickers, calendars, mugs, pens, magnets, key chains, wobblers, bags, caps, T-shirts, and more.

Personal Selling

As one of the most effective integrated marketing tools, personal selling can help you to develop and strengthen your relationship with your customers. In personal marketing, your marketing team will find and contact the customers using various methods like prospecting, cold calling, email inquiries, press releases, and public relations activities.

When making a sales call during personal selling, it is essential to be honest with your customers and let them know exactly what your brand can offer them. Avoid exaggerating or inflating your worth. You should also give the customers time to consider your offer, without pushing them to close the deal. Developing a relationship is more important at this stage. It could lead them to buy your products and services later, and if they find them satisfactory they might buy from you again, even recommending you to their family, friends, and acquaintances. You could see an increase in sales through such organic word-of-mouth marketing.

Sales Promotion

This type of marketing involves offering attractive incentives that will make customers notice your brand and buy from you. The incentives can range from discount coupons to gift certificates to travel tickets and more. The point is to give customers a reason to think that they are getting a great deal from shopping with you.

You are likely to see more of an impact when you integrate all the marketing tactics that are relevant to your target audience into your overall marketing strategy. Monitor their results so that you can identify and implement improvements.

 Image via Flickr by Robert Higgins

Why Is Integrated Marketing Important?

Integrated marketing is important as it can assist your brand in making the right kind of impact on current and prospective customers across a wide landscape. You will be able to:

Build a Better Brand Equity

It is no longer enough to come up with a marketing strategy, launch it, and wait for the results. Even if you have the best marketing strategy in the world, it could get overlooked in the hurly-burly of a competitive marketplace. And, even if it does get noticed, people have so many options available to them these days that they are likely to forget about it as quickly.

That is why you need to be consistent and persistent in your messaging, coordinating it to reach the right people at the right times. There is a great advantage in constantly reminding consumers about your brand. Don’t ever take it for granted that they will remember that you exist and come around knocking the next time they need your products and services. It is imperative that you continue to advertise across all channels and assets, monitor the responses, and make improvements in your campaigns.

With integrated marketing, you can keep honing your marketing campaigns, and when necessary, change them to boost the public perception of your brand’s values and offerings. In the short term, you are likely to see an increase in customer queries and product sales. In the long term, you will be able to establish a sound brand reputation and develop enduring relationships with your customers.

Earn Higher Sales Revenue

In terms of resources, it is simpler and more convenient to run integrated marketing campaigns than several different and separate marketing channels. You can save money by repurposing and sharing marketing assets. Additionally, when you can deliver your brand message across multiple channels to a broader public, your advertising campaigns are going to get more attention. As a result, the number of customers that might be potentially interested in your products and services is going to go up. With continued efforts, you will be able to make more conversions and earn more profits.

How to Develop an Effective Integrated Marketing Strategy?

You can develop an effective integrating marketing strategy by making sure that all your marketing channels align toward the same business goals and your messaging fulfills customer requirements at different decision-making stages.

Developing such a cohesive and integrated marketing strategy is far from easy, but you can build an agile, result-oriented approach by adapting the following steps:

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals

To begin with, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. Identify which part of the marketing funnel you need to address. For instance, do you want to inform consumers of a new product launch? Are you attempting to boost existing customer loyalty? Do you want to build brand awareness for potential customers?

Find out which marketing resources and channels you can use for the purpose. Some common examples are print and pay-per-click advertising, direct marketing, content marketing, and so on. If you are not sure which to use, you can always test and see what works and what doesn’t.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Ask yourself which target group is most likely to need or benefit from your products and services. Is your brand oriented towards health-conscious people? Those who enjoy outdoor adventures?  Women raising young children? It will all depend on what you have to offer. However, to find an ideal audience that is accessible, receptive, and profitable for your brand, it will help to research consumer insights and use demographic data such as locations, ages, genders, occupations, incomes, interests, buying habits, and so on.

It is important to keep to a moderate market size since trying to cater to a very large audience might cause you to lose focus and spread your resources out too thin without getting the returns you desire. At the same time, if you limit your audience to a very small size, you might risk losing many potential customers. You should also analyze what you can do to make your brand more appealing to existing customers.

3. Understand Customer Decision-Making

To make effective customer conversions, you need to first understand what makes a customer decide to buy a product or a service and then come up with a workable plan to make them buy from you. While consumer behaviors are complex, the buying process for most people generally follows a pattern of awareness, consideration, and decision-making.

In the awareness stage, the customer will recognize that they need something or they will become aware of an available opportunity. They will then search for more information and identify the things that can fulfill their need, or they will consider how the available opportunity can make a difference to them. Then, in the decision-making stage they will narrow down the list of possibilities, alternatives, and vendors, and, depending on the products or services that they are considering and the price points of these they will make an extended or spontaneous buying decision.

4. Plan Your Marketing Communications

You can leverage different marketing communication methods to reach your target audience. You can get started by understanding the problems your target audience has and their attempts to resolve these by receiving information, gathering facts, and conducting research. Next, decide which communication channels will be most effective in reaching out to these people and providing them with the information they seek. Some marketing communication methods that you can use include content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Content marketing involves creating brand-related content to influence your target audience and publishing it online through website content, blogs, eBooks, articles, landing pages, pop-ups, images, videos, and audio. You can also get offline results by publishing in newspapers, magazines, and books. Disseminating content in these ways can help people become aware of your brand and understand who you are and what you stand for. That is likely to influence them when they embark on the decision-making process to buy your products and services.

According to a study “Growth and Opportunities in Content Marketing” by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), a majority of businesses spend at least 18 percent of their total marketing budget on content marketing and the spending is likely to go up in the coming years.

With email marketing, the focus is less on generating new leads and more on engaging with your existing audience. You can remind them of your brand by sending unique, helpful content through periodic emails and newsletters. To do this effectively and drive business growth, you must carefully consider their preferences.

Social media marketing is useful for enhancing brand awareness and connecting with a wide swathe of people across different platforms. It can help you to drive traffic to your website and notify your followers of the latest brand happenings.

By combining all three marketing methods in your integrated marketing strategy, you are likely to see improved industry-specific results.

5. Plan Your Marketing Initiatives

After selecting the marketing channels to reach out to your target audience, you will need to plan and develop comprehensive marketing initiatives and act decisively to execute these. The first step is to create different buyer personas to assist with your planning process. Buyer personas allow you to determine what typical buyers prefer, what they dislike, which social media platforms they frequent, what type of information they seek, and so on.

With this data, you can chalk out an effective plan to engage with buyers and implement targeted advertising campaigns that might get the desired return on investment. To persuade people to connect with you, focus on providing them with attention-grabbing content like video testimonials, infographics, and checklists, and hard-to-resist offers such as free eBooks, detailed case studies, and informative newsletters. You can further nudge them in their decision-making process by setting up pop-up reminders that display as they are about to leave your website.

6. Execute Your Marketing Initiatives

The key to successful marketing is knowing when and how often people want to receive the information you have to offer. Many marketing automation platforms can help you to find out when your target audience read emails, when they use social media, and how they engage with your brand online. You can then decide which content you should send out and in what quantity. You want to send content frequently enough so that your contacts remember you, but not so frequently that they get overwhelmed and stop looking at it.

You can use a marketing calendar to keep track of what content you send to your prospects, when you send it, and which channels you send it to. To make the right impact, tailor your messaging to fit the usage customs prevalent on the different media platforms. You could reuse the same content across various platforms by converting it into articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, memes, graphics, and more.

7. Engage With Your Target Audience

Being consistent in the implementation of your marketing plan will make it easier for you to engage with your audience. You can initiate conversations by providing brand information, asking people what they want, directing them to product offers, and posting polls and quizzes. You can share links to websites, blog posts, videos, and social media accounts. To make it easier for followers to share your content, embed social sharing buttons in your website and blog.

It is important to respond to relevant queries and to address complaints as soon as possible. By being polite, witty, and good-humored in your public interactions, you will be able to generate goodwill towards your brand. People will be more likely to listen to what you say and pay attention to your products and services.

8. Analyze and Improve Your Marketing Plan

You can improve your marketing plan by regularly reviewing your business objectives and analyzing how consumers engage with your advertising campaigns. To track key performance indicators, find out how many new leads you are generating, and how often existing subscribers open your emails, click on your links, and respond to your emails. You also want to know if your prospects interact with your social media messages, send sales requests, and make final purchases.

Another action to engage in is keeping up with current trends and incorporating them into your promotional campaigns. Additionally, you need to keep tabs on your competitors and get inspired by what they are doing right. Upgrading to and making use of the latest marketing tools will help in boosting your integrated marketing communication and reaching your target audience.

 Image via Flickr by PLEXKITS

Tips for Improving Your Integrated Marketing Strategy

You can improve your integrated marketing communications strategy in a variety of ways:

By Studying Consumer Data

The consumer behavioral data will inform you of how your customers behave in relation to what you are offering them. The consumer demographical data, meanwhile, will provide pertinent details such as their locations, ages, genders, income, interests, and so on. Taken together, all this information will help you to aggregate your customers according to their behaviors and buying habits and create further segmentation to customize your advertising campaigns.

By Assessing Marketing Expenses

Consider marketing as an investment and learn how to budget for different marketing purposes such as customer acquisition and retention, and assess if you are getting the desired returns. With the use of analytics, attribution, and optimization, you can get a reasonably accurate estimate. You can adjust your marketing actions to stay within your budget, get better value from your campaigns, and meet your business goals.

By Building Effective Marketing Teams

Before your brand can deliver an integrated marketing experience to its customers, it is necessary to build effective and integrated marketing teams. You can set up multiple teams to handle different marketing aspects, but they must adhere to the same overall marketing policy. Their work methods must take an agile approach that allows the teams to easily and quickly coordinate with one another.

By Installing Marketing Automation

Marketing automation software can automate many essential and repetitive marketing tasks like sending emails and newsletters, posting on social media, and gathering leads. Setting up and shaping automation workflows to run your various marketing campaigns is especially convenient if you have a small business with limited resources. It will allow you to get better marketing management and prioritization, and you will also be able to focus more on other pressing business tasks.

By Appealing to Emotions

Integrated marketing involves telling a consistent brand story that will keep customers interested and elicit an emotional response from them. People often make emotional decisions when shopping for items they need or find appealing. Your product can be practically useful, but it also has to resonate on an emotional level with your customers. You have to give them a good reason to select you over your competitors. Brainstorm different ideas to come up with an appealing story. It can be funny, joyful, touching, or inspiring, and it must align with your brand values.

By Engendering Customer Loyalty

Customers seem to react better to integrated marketing tactics as compared to traditional ones. Rather than bombarding them with advertising materials, the integrated marketing approach is more about establishing and cultivating dialogues and developing relationships. When you show the consumers that your brand cares about their opinions and preferences and is willing to cater to those, they will be more likely to respond positively and continue to buy from you.

By Offering Great Customer Service

Everyone won’t be interested in having a relationship with your brand, but most people will demand sound solutions for their problems. By using FAQs, bots, and experienced customer service representatives, you can make sure that customers get prompt responses and that their concerns are adequately addressed.

Integrated marketing can save you the time you would have spent in figuring out which marketing tools could be most effective for your purpose. Instead, you can integrate all the available ones in your marketing strategy and make use of a wider range of options to connect with your target audience. By coordinating advertising messages across different channels and assets, you can raise your brand profile and offer consumers a unified experience as they move along the path to making a purchase.

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