What is Integrated Marketing?

business process

Besides being a buzzword, like “synergy”, “freemium”, or “snackable”.

Integrated marketing is basically sending the same message via all of your marketing communications. It’s about consistently portraying your brand’s truth. All the time. In every communication.

Integrated Marketing isn’t a new concept, but it’s discussed more and more due to customer lifecycles becoming increasingly long and complex.

In the PPC world, it’s more difficult than ever to truly practice integrated marketing, but it’s possible and should be your first priority in 2019!

What Is Integrated Marketing?

In the simplest terms, integrated marketing is when you send a unified message across all of your marketing communications. There are dozens of other definitions here. 

“Marketing communications” includes, but is not limited to:

  • Print
  • TV
  • Digital Ads
  • Social Media
  • Sales
  • PR

Creating a unified message across your marketing platforms is not as simple as it might sound, so I advise that you do your own research to learn more about the multitude of integrated marketing strategies and processes that brands have tried.

Generally speaking, integrated marketing strategies require:

  • A unified message
  • Content consistency
  • Sales and Marketing collaboration and coordination

The focused messaging and consistent content from your Sales and Marketing teams, across all of your marketing communications channels, is integrated marketing.

What’s All The Hype For?

Your end consumer is a person (B2C) or a group of people (B2B). When it comes to purchasing decisions, people want the truth about your product or service.

Would you ever lie to your potential customers?

Hopefully, you said “No”. Regardless, some brands don’t realize that their messaging isn’t portraying a single truth to their customers.

While it might be unintentional and innocent, communicating different messages across different marketing communications makes your brand seem:

  • Confused
  • Lost
  • Undecided
  • Two-faced
  • Dishonest
  • Lacking confidence

While these traits might not immediately affect your brand’s bottom line, they can stunt growth in the long-term.

Think of it in terms of your personal relationships: How many long-term friends with those qualities that I’ve listed do you stay friends with, long-term?

For brands that aim to grow by sustaining long-term customers and loyalty, integrated marketing is not a simple suggestion. Integrated marketing is the key to a long-term relationship with your customers.

The Integrated Marketing Challenges

Communicating one consistent message to your customers doesn’t sound hard. It should be easier than communicating multiple messages, right?

Well, it’s not THAT simple.

The customer journey is longer and more unpredictable than ever.

According to Kitewheel’s 2018 State of the Customer Journey, total journey interactions surpassed three billion in 2017 – up from just 400 million when they began the report in 2014. See the chart below:

customer journey interactions

Source: Kitewheel

 

And those journey interactions aren’t as predictable as the old marketing funnel you learned about in business school textbooks.

The customer journey is more of a lifecycle than a funnel. There are plenty of marketing gurus that write on this subject, so don’t take my word for it. Do some research of your own.

I like this explanation from Expresswriters.com. See their lifecycle image below:

marketing lifecycle

Communicating a unified message in a long, unpredictable customer journey requires focus. It takes practice, skill, and teamwork to ensure all marketing communication and content pieces, across all platforms and channels, work together.

What does this mean for you, a digital marketer that specializes in paid channels?

You need to create a process for message alignment!

PPC/Paid channels as a marketing communication category have multiple platforms (Google, FB, Amazon, etc). Managing multiple platforms increases the difficulty of integrating your messaging across all. Then, multiply the number of platforms by the various:

  • Strategies
  • Content pieces
  • Campaigns
  • Ad types

If you work with a team of marketers, creating a process is even more crucial. Without a process, it’s too easy for your platform or channel leaders to work in a silo and develop individual styles of communication.

Outside of your brand’s marketing team, you need to open up lines of communication with your Sales team and any agencies partners.  Share your existing processes with them and work together to merge processes so that you’re operating as a united front.

Next Steps

If integrated marketing is your focus for 2019, here are the next steps you should follow. Many brands have done steps 1 and 2, and should start with step 3:

  1. Identify your brand voice
  2. Determine your brand guidelines
  3. Create processes for maintaining brand voice and guidelines across your marketing communications
  4. Create processes for determining the messaging for new campaigns and distributing that messaging to all necessary teams
  5. Share and collaborate on those processes to make sure they unite your Sales team and agency partners

Even if your team has been working to integrate your marketing communications for years, there’s always more to be done. Don’t assume that if you’ve already tackled this list that you’re home-free. I highly encourage that you continue reading blogs, industry reports, and case studies to find new integrated marketing processes and strategies that work for other brands. As with all things digital marketing, what worked 3-5 years ago is now too slow, manual, or inflexible. Keep testing new methods and processes!