Integrated marketing plans align every aspect of your marketing to deliver a powerful and memorable message. And while this challenge can be complex, involving many stakeholders and marketing channels, following these six steps will help guide the process and ensure measurable success.
First, let's take a quick look at integrated marketing in action and how it can be implemented and scaled. I always thought Delta was a great example of a big brand that successfully connected with customers in a more personal way through their campaigns. From photos that feature individuals in faraway places, employee highlights, and clever retweets highlighting loyal customer experiences, the desire to connect with customers was notable and appreciated. A simple social media post showing the “book a flight” screen, takes the customer home to mom on Mother's Day.
When I received a hand-written thank you note on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City, Delta took the concept of personal marketing to a whole new, and very granular level. I was hooked.
That’s the power of an integrated marketing plan. Some might consider it new marketing math, where 2+2=6.
With integrated marketing plans, the goal is to deliver a seamless message from a variety of touchpoints so the voice of that message resonates deeply and creates a more powerful result. It’s a case of the whole campaign being greater than the sum of its parts. Greater consistency with your campaign’s message and delivery will provide better overall performance.
If you’re excited at the prospect of delivering your brand message more engagingly and comprehensively, let’s get started.
1. Determine the Level of Integration & Goals
The first step in creating an integrated marketing plan is to determine your level of integration and your overarching campaign goals. If this is the first attempt at an integrated campaign, you may be well-served to start with a single campaign.
Integrating a single campaign allows you to focus on one message for a defined period such as a promotional campaign or upcoming event. With single campaigns, you often have a single goal, such as event registration or a free download which makes identifying and tracking your results easier.
Once you’re experienced in delivering a single campaign using an integrated plan, you can move to a quarterly strategy, which may include more than one campaign, with greater confidence.
Over a quarter or year, you will likely have several marketing goals at various stages of the conversion funnel. Identifying these objectives in your plan and implementing conversion tracking, using free tools like Tag Manager or this simple URL builder, will help you track results in Google Analytics across campaigns and marketing channels.
2. Identify Your Channels
With so many marketing channels available from paid media, blogs, email, social media, and print, determining which channels you will use to carry your message is an important next step. Identifying the channels you will be using will allow you to easily create a list of needed assets and sizes and will also help you to initially allocate your marketing budget.
Are you a small business that relies mostly on phone calls? Companies like CallRail, provide affordable options to use a unique phone number monthly. Or if you already have a free Google Voice number, that can provide a call count history, and when integrated with Tag Manager can be tracked effortlessly.
For print and point of sale conversions, consider using a QR code generator to send customers to the landing or transactional page. And, when you use the URL builder mentioned earlier, tracking conversions and website traffic for each campaign and channel will be seamless.
3. Target Your Audience, Create Personas
Few businesses have a single audience profile. As you go through this step, know you may have different audiences for different campaigns, each benefitting from a unique tone and marketing mix. Take a moment to define your target audience with demographics like age, gender, and location. And then take the next step to understand psychographic factors that drive interests. This next-level analysis will help move prospects through your conversion cycle.
You may consider creating a customer persona or even several personas to help gather a deeper level of insights that can influence your campaign message and channel choices.
By creating, and even naming these fictitious customers, the customer’s needs, wants and drivers are often easier to identify. Do they like streaming music or prefer podcasts and webinars? Is your audience on the go and connecting through apps and mobile devices, or are they primarily engaging on desktop? What assumptions and values will influence interest in your brand and ultimately make a purchase.
If after creating your personas, you realize you need to adjust your marketing channels based on insights, you’re doing it right. The steps are designed to be iterative and yield better outcomes with each campaign.
4. Craft Your Message
Now comes the moment you've been waiting for - the message. And while it’s tempting to start crafting your message and then skip to other steps, you should follow the steps, especially the first few campaigns until you find your groove.
The magic of integrated marketing plans is aligning your message with your audience and maintaining that consistency across channels.
As you create your message, think through any needed lead-up time, especially for date-specific events and promotions. Maintaining the same message and theme across a longer timeline may require changing some aspects of the text or images while keeping the same narrative and tone.
If it’s something as simple as a lead generation campaign, think about the conversion funnel and how your campaign will fit into the appropriate top (awareness), middle (consideration and education), or bottom (commitment) of the funnel. This process may spark the need to create other assets, such as a follow-up email reminder to encourage a purchase.
Because audience and channels have been determined in earlier steps, be sure to pair your message format, length, images, and even tone to match both your audience and marketing channel.
5. Assign, Align and Schedule Content - [TEMPLATE]
A large degree of an integrated marketing plan's effectiveness resides in the execution.
Creating a plan across several marketing channels frequently means more stakeholders. Stakeholders may need to see your brand strategy at various levels, both to understand how various aspects integrate, specific timing, and also how their area of responsibility fits into the overall scheme.
We created a template in Google Sheets to organize campaigns across channels and to see them at quarterly, monthly and daily execution levels. You can download a copy here.
Strategies are outlined quarterly with a schedule assigned monthly. The third tab provides granular detail for individual social postings to ensure target frequency is met. Color-coding channels allow for a quick reference and will appeal to the visual learners on your team. Having the campaign at-a-glance view may inspire some creative ways to execute, just like Delta's hand-written thank you notes.
6. Collect and Analyze Customer Data
Data lovers have reason to celebrate when campaign-level attribution can be tracked across channels.
Using the URL builder, Tag Manager and Google Analytics can provide visitor traffic attribution as well as engagement statics like bounce rate, pages per session and time on site per campaign as well as campaign conversion rate.
It is important to remember that prospects may see campaign messages in many places before clicking or taking conversion actions. By implementing campaign-level attribution and seeing the data across channels, marketers can get a more complete picture of how prospects and customers engage and transact.
By layering consistent messages across mediums, your campaign and brand has a greater impact and longevity. And that's how 2+2=6.
Creating an integrated marketing plan doesn’t have to be daunting when you follow the steps. If you have questions about integrated marketing or creating your next quarterly strategy, contact us.