There is a need for businesses to use comprehensive integrated marketing campaigns that seamlessly connect channels with an impactful message. And when businesses use these campaigns, they see significant returns. According to Gartner, integrated campaigns across four or more channels outperform single or dual-channel campaigns by 300%.
NewsCred stated, “While there is a myriad of valid ways to approach campaigns, there’s only (one) type that will connect the buyer journey seamlessly across all marketing channels and truly maximize results — integrated campaigns.”
What are integrated marketing communications, and why are they so important?
What is Integrated Marketing Communications?
Smart Insights defined integrated marketing as “a strategic approach to integrating communication and interactive experiences targeting defined audiences and individuals which coordinates all aspects of marketing a brand.”
Its definition includes three essential aspects of marketing:
- Paid media: traditional advertising, direct marketing and online ads
- Earned media: organic search, public relations and influencer marketing
- Owned media: social media, websites, customer service and direct marketing through email and mobile devices
Other definitions of integrated marketing communications differ slightly, but all focus on creating a cohesive experience throughout all the touchpoints that consumers encounter a brand. Integrated marketing does not mean each marketing channel communicates the same way. However, the messaging has a consistent voice and identity while still pulling on the strengths of individual marketing channels and tactics.
NewsCred called integrated campaigns “a series of coordinated, omnichannel activities, designed to elevate marketing performance by breaking down internal silos and delivering a unified brand experience through content.”
While planning, execution and measuring are not the same for each organization and initiative, the goal is the same. A successful integrated marketing communications plan feels seamless and trustworthy, allowing customers to connect with a brand in a way they wouldn’t with standalone marketing tactics.
Why is Integrated Marketing Important?
Focusing on the consumer experience and integrating your marketing tactics increases the effectiveness of your promotional efforts and enhances brand performance in a myriad of ways. Here are a few reasons why integrated marketing is important.
In marketing, reach is the total number of potential customers exposed to your message. An integrated marketing approach allows you to meet your customers where they are, making your total reach not only larger but more effective.
NewsCred stated, “Thinking bigger, larger and more integrated campaigns can help you build mental availability – make people more aware of your brand – and boost awareness beyond the current customer base to drive acquisition and grow market share.”
You don’t have to count on potential clients seeing a specific television ad to hear your message. Instead, if the same message lives throughout various channels, you’ll reach more members of your target market.
Frequency refers to the number of times a single customer sees or interacts with your message. Frequency is vital to marketing success. A 2015 Microsoft study found that a person’s average attention span is eight seconds. When marketers hold consumers’ attention for such a short amount of time, it’s imperative to get the message in front of them more often. The marketing “Rule of Seven” theorizes that a customer must hear an advertiser’s message at least seven times before acting.
Entrepreneur and marketing guru Seth Godin illustrated the importance of frequency in his book Permission Marketing. He posed the question if you had 100 seeds and only enough water to water each seed once, would you water each seed one time or plant 25 and water them more often? This example illustrates that marketing budget is often better spent targeting one potential customer multiple times.
With an integrated marketing campaign, you can get the same well-crafted message to people across multiple media, increasing your chances of success.
Consistency in marketing refers to a specific feeling and tone brought to customers throughout all marketing channels used. It can build brand recognition and awareness and is essential to maximizing reach and frequency.
Brands with consistent messaging see a healthy return on their marketing investments. The average revenue increase associated with presenting your brand consistently is 23%, according to a 2016 study by Demand Metric.
This increase is likely because most consumers don’t only interact with a brand on one medium. Research indicates that the number of sources that customers consult before purchasing is increasing. A report by the ROBO Economy found that 82% of smartphone users consult their phones when they’re about to make a purchase in store.
When your business goals and marketing goals align into a clear message, and that message aligns across channels, you’ve achieved consistency. Maintaining consistency wherever customers find your brand builds trust and increases your chance of being the product or service they choose.
In addition to increased revenue, the efficiency associated with integrated marketing can lead to overall savings for your business. Repurposing images, messaging and more for various outlets results in less money and time spent developing marketing.
Repurposing your marketing content is a great way to do more with less. Building on messaging that resonates with consumers already and packaging it in new ways to reach a larger audience increases your return on investment and saves you resources in the long run.
Marketers should not copy the same message no matter the marketing channel. Still, market research, photography and creative assets don’t have to be recreated from the ground up for each medium.
Integrated Marketing Communications Examples
Integrated marketing communications examples show these benefits in action. Here are two integrated campaigns that impacted the marketing world and their organizations’ bottom lines.
Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty
In 2019, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty won the title of PR Week’s Best U.S. Campaign of the Past 20 Years. It is one of the best integrated marketing communications examples to reference. The campaign had longevity, launching in 2004 and continuing for more than a decade, and made a real monetary impact. In the first 10 years of the campaign, Dove sales went from $2.5 billion to $4 billion per year.
The campaign started with billboards and extended to television ads and online videos. Dove’s “Evolution” ad went viral in 2006, long before going viral was something marketers strived for in their work. The 2013 advertisement “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” became the most watched video ad of all time, as well as the third most shared ad of all time.
The company also committed to the change it promoted with the campaign, instead of just capitalizing on the message. The Dove Self-Esteem Project partners with parents, mentors, educators and other leaders to build confidence in young children.
The organization found a message that resonated with consumers and adapted it to multiple marketing channels. This campaign struck a chord with the audience and continued to engage the public in a conversation across multiple media types for years with a consistent message.
Levi Strauss & Co.: Ready to Work
Launched in 2010, the Ready to Work campaign is an integrated marketing example that spanned channels and resonated with target consumers. The campaign focused on the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania and its residents’ efforts to rebuild the town after its prosperous years as a steel town were over.
The campaign used television, YouTube, print and digital avenues, along with documentary programming, to get its message to their target market. Levi Strauss worked with the mayor of Braddock, as well as many citizens, to rebuild the community center and the town’s urban community farm project.
The awarded campaign boosted Levi Strauss’s sales that year and started a national dialogue about struggling communities and Americans’ ability to overcome and rebuild. The multitude of marketing channels used provided the reach and frequency needed to make this integrated marketing campaign successful.
Put Your Integrated Marketing Campaign Together
Having an integrated marketing campaign plan helps you create marketing that impacts customer decisions more than siloed marketing. How can you put this information into action for your organization?
Each integrated marketing campaign takes research, development and adjustments, but the payoff will beat the alternative of piecing together messaging and tactics that aren’t cohesive. In the end, you’ll save resources and build trust with your target market.
Explore how to build, execute and measure your integrated marketing campaign.
Building Your Integrated Marketing Campaign
When you set out to create an integrated marketing campaign plan, begin by reviewing your company mission. With your overall business strategy as a guide, take the following steps.
Focus on Your Brand
At this point in the planning process, be sure to connect with your overall brand. Don’t lose sight of your brand’s voice, values or objectives in search of an exciting campaign. Integrated marketing is about creating a cohesive brand experience for the consumer. Each campaign should tie in with the overall strategy of your organization.
- What are the unique benefits of our product? Knowing what sets you apart will help you craft a winning campaign.
- What emotions do our brand hope to elicit? The answer to this question will inform the kind of integrated marketing campaign you’ll run.
- What is our competition doing, and how can we set ourselves apart? A critical look at the competition is beneficial when trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
- What are our values/culture? Consumers are interested in what your company stands for. Ensure your values and culture are reflected in your campaign.
Because an integrated marketing campaign seeks to deliver the same message across multiple media outlets, the message must align with your overall brand goals. Business, marketing and communications should all align to create a campaign true to your organization. Customers want brands they can trust, and consistency leads to trust.
Explore Your Target Market
Your target market for an integrated marketing campaign does not have to be everyone you target with your product or service. An integrated marketing campaign can even focus on one buyer persona only. Determine during the planning process how targeted you want your campaign to be.
When developing the target of your campaign, consider these questions:
- What are the typical characteristics of my target customers? Understanding your market for the campaign will help you craft messages that resonate with them.
- What problem do we solve for potential buyers? Think critically about how your product or service fits into the lives and meets the needs of your target consumers.
- What types of media does our target market use? This question is critical when determining what marketing channels you should include in your campaign.
- What point in the customer journey am I impacting with this campaign? Knowing where your customers are in the buying process will help you craft a strong message with the right call to action.
A firm grasp of your customer journey and the characteristics of your target buyer is essential in optimizing your campaign’s reach, crafting a successful message and, ultimately, increasing your return on investment.
Define Your Campaign Goals
The goals for your integrated marketing campaign must be clear and specific. Define what you hope to achieve with the campaign and realistically consider concrete goals that you can work toward with your planning and execution. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What is our call to action? Define the immediate response you want your audience to have.
- What is the timeline? The best goals are timebound. Set a realistic but concrete schedule for your campaign.
- What is the budget? Knowing what you hope to spend will help you set parameters when thinking creatively.
- What are my key performance indicators (KPI)? These should be directly related to your call to action and will determine what you measure throughout your campaign.
These fundamental questions lay the foundation for where the rest of your integrated marketing campaign will go and ensure that your campaign will meet your business’s needs.
Determine Your Marketing Channels
Now that you have explored your brand, target market and campaign goals, you can determine the marketing channels most likely to help you be successful. Different channels do different things. It’s important not just to know where your potential customers are but know how to use the right marketing channel to communicate your message.
Some common components of an integrated marketing campaign include:
- Direct mail
- Paid online search
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Print advertising
- Social media
Lean heavily on your brand identity, target market and your goals when determining the right combination of marketing channels for your integrated marketing campaign. If your campaign has a long timeline, you may adjust the channels throughout its life.
While each of these marketing tactics could be used on their own, interweaving them to create a comprehensive marketing communications strategy will yield a more significant impact. Leverage each channel’s strengths to make your integrated campaign effective.
Executing Your Integrated Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve got your foundation built, it’s time to execute on your integrated marketing campaign plan. Integrated marketing communications requires a different approach than traditional marketing. Here are things to keep in mind when carrying out your campaign plan.
Include the Right Team Members
Just like different marketing channels have unique strengths, so do marketing professionals. Be sure to include the people in your organization with the expertise to make your integrated marketing campaign successful in its execution. When running a campaign across multiple channels, many people must work together, bringing their diverse knowledge to ensure the campaign is seamless.
You can begin including some of the team members who can help you reach your goals as early as the planning phase. Be sure to include all relevant people in discussions about goals, messaging and more.
Create Content that Can Be Repurposed
Not all messaging can be repurposed appropriately. Keep in mind whether a tagline or call to action will resonate on the marketing channels you’re using. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the channels and repurpose creative elements for each medium. Remember, while your message is the same, the execution will likely not be identical throughout each marketing channel used in your campaign.
Like the integrated marketing communications examples we mentioned above, the same message can take different forms to provoke the same emotions from various audiences. Your television ads can be repurposed into social media campaigns and digital advertising. Multiple blog posts can be reworked into a downloadable e-book. Perhaps that e-book would make a great email series. Never stop thinking of new ways to use your content so your campaign can have a long and profitable life.
Throughout executing your campaign, be on the lookout for new ways to use your content to increase the reach and frequency of your message, even if they weren’t part of your initial plan. Repurposing will save you resources and help reinforce your consistent message throughout multiple marketing channels.
Focus on the Entire Brand Experience
Chief Marketing Officer at Freeman Chris Cavanaugh defined brand experience as “designing a sensory experience that brings a person a lasting and meaningful relationship with the brand.” Remember, consistency is imperative.
An integrated marketing campaign doesn’t end with the marketing department. An integrated plan is about disseminating the same message effectively across many channels. Those channels include your sales and customer service teams. In some cases, your recruitment team should be on board with the messaging of your integrated marketing campaign.
Integrated communications include the entire organization. Thinking outside of the marketing department when executing your integrated marketing communications plan ensures consistency isn’t lost during the customer journey and creates a pleasant and trustworthy brand experience.
Even with the best planning and execution, no marketing campaign can remain stagnant. Reevaluate every piece of your campaign regularly to determine if the messaging and channels are still working properly.
Set firm dates to look at your data, evaluate your marketing pieces and ensure everything is fitting with your strategy and that you’re meeting your goals for the integrated marketing campaign. To ensure your campaign is useful, you must measure your campaign results well.
Measuring Your Integrated Marketing Campaign
According to a 2016 study from Forrester Consulting, only 26% of marketers believed their marketing analytics tools were well-integrated and work together well. That’s unfortunate because marketers who can integrate complete marketing analytics platforms see a better performance. Those who use five or more tools for analyzing are 39% more likely to improve their marketing efforts.
Marketers who use five or more tools for analyzing their campaigns are 39% more likely to improve their marketing efforts.
Depending on the media used and the goals of your campaign, many measurement tactics can be useful. Some metrics to consider tracking include, among many others.
- Online conversions: Measuring conversions from a landing page tied directly to your campaign is one way to track campaign success.
- Referral traffic: Analyzing referral traffic provides some powerful insight into which marketing efforts are working and which may not be giving you the return you hoped for.
- Social media insights: Various social media platforms give you great ways to analyze how your content is performing.
- Cost per lead: Even the best marketing is not as effective as it could be if the cost per lead is too high.
- Response rate: This is important if using print media. Measuring how many people respond to a call to action immediately is one indicator of how well your print advertising is performing.
No matter what metrics you use, you want to see a good return on investment (ROI) in your campaign. Instead of looking at the ROI on each marketing piece, consider other indicators, such as brand awareness, online reviews and more, to get a gauge on how your campaign is performing. These can be harder to measure but reliable indicators of integrated marketing success.
Various tools such as Google Analytics, HubSpot and more can ensure that you’re tracking all the metrics relevant to your campaign. Once you have enough data, reevaluate your marketing channels, your message and your audience to adjust tactics as necessary. Even the best market research can miss some insights that marketing analytics may reveal after a campaign is active.
Learn More About Creating an Integrated Marketing Campaign
Creating an integrated marketing campaign takes work. If you’d like to learn more about effectively integrating your marketing communications into cohesive campaigns, consider an online bachelor’s in integrated marketing communications from the University of West Alabama. If you already hold your bachelor’s degree and want to become an expert in creating robust marketing campaigns, consider our online Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications.
In our programs, you’ll get hands-on multimedia experience. You’ll explore graphic design, web, social media and more while also mastering the theories you need to be a successful integrated marketing professional. Our expert faculty have relevant experience and can guide you through your education, no matter your end career goal.
With UWA, you’ll earn your degree entirely online at one of the state’s most affordable institutions. Our flexible structure allows you to challenge yourself while still fitting education into your busy lifestyle. We proudly provide all our students with personal support from application to graduation.