Back in the 1930's, something called the Rule of 7 developed in the movie industry.
According to this golden rule, a prospect needs to “hear” an advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action – such as going to watch Gone with the Wind in 1939.
At that time, advertisers of Gone with the Wind distributed their campaigns across a few core channels: namely print, billboards, and radio.
But now? The channel options for marketers have skyrocketed. Marketers can engage their audience and inspire action with a huge range of channels used in tandem — both online and offline.
For instance, let's say there's a mattress company that has just designed a revolutionary new waterbed. Upon the model's release, sales are less than stellar, and the business is struggling to make headway in the unforgiving, dog-eat-dog world known more commonly as the waterbed industry.
The company decides it needs to make a concentrated effort to stand out and looks to its marketing department for answers. The marketers at the company decide to promote a contest — one where consumers submit videos of themselves drinking individual glasses of water in creative ways.
Whoever submits the video deemed most creative wins a free waterbed and an all-expense-paid trip to Water Country — the preeminent waterpark in the greater Portsmouth, New Hampshire area.
To enact this campaign, the company sends out promotional email blasts to its subscribers. Its blog writers place calls-to-action referencing the sweepstakes in their posts. The company runs TV and print advertisements detailing how consumers can enter. And finally, its social media team regularly posts participants' submissions across its various profiles.
The process the waterbed company undertook — i.e. the cohesive coordination of various marketing channels to work in tandem for the campaign — is known as integrated marketing.
Here, we'll dive into what integrated marketing is, as well as a few mistakes you'll want to avoid when implementing your own integrated marketing campaign.
What is Integrated Marketing?
With integrated marketing, your different marketing channels work together to promote your products or services with an aligned brand message across all content and assets.
Integrated marketing goes beyond digital marketing to encompass every single way you reach your audience, including traditional media channels such as print, radio, and TV ads, as well as personal selling, PR, and even packaging.
Integrated marketing is aligned with a simple but powerful marketing philosophy: that any interaction someone has with your brand, on any channel, should reinforce their impression consistently, and positively.
With each new interaction across a range of different platforms, your prospects develop more trust in your brand and receive a greater understanding of how the products and services you offer will positively impact their lives.
Your team may already be doing a great job at regularly posting content and cultivating relationships with leads via a multi-channel marketing strategy.
However, there are several common integrated marketing mistakes that can restrict your results, often without you even realizing they exist. Let's review those next.
Common Integrated Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
By being mindful of these mistakes, you will be in the best position to create the most impactful message both on individual channels and holistically.
Let’s explore these integrated marketing mistakes and explain how you can best avoid them.
1. Not Having an Overarching Campaign Goal and Messaging
The enemy of integrated marketing is disconnected marketing. This happens when you lack alignment in your channels, messaging, and strategies.
Messaging is the lifeblood of successful integrated marketing campaigns. It's the focal point that ties your various channels together, and its efficacy often hinges upon your sense of cultural awareness. If your messaging is offensive, hypocritical, or unjustifiably controversial, you're setting your entire integrated marketing campaign up for failure.
Case in point: Levi's "Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes" campaign. Though the underlying principle of Levi's campaign sounded good on paper — empowering women to feel comfortable in their own bodies — the way the company executed its messaging was completely off-base.
Though the campaign was rooted in the idea that women of all "shapes and sizes" were beautiful, their marketing materials only featured thin models.
Levi's messaging was misguided, hypocritical, and lacked self-awareness. In other words, it was tone-deaf. The advertisements ran in print and online, but the controversy they stirred poured over into social media and the general blogosphere. Ultimately, the campaign might have been more trouble than it was worth.
The best way to avoid this potential pitfall is to run your core ideas and materials by a diverse team that can identify which aspects of your messaging might go awry. Your consumer base and the world around it have a variety of perspectives, so it's in your best interest to have different voices partially vet the messages the general population is going to hear.
After the initial brainstorm, you'll need to define the core goals behind all of your marketing efforts. As a team, get clear on these questions:
- Who are the people you are targeting?
- What actions do you want to inspire them to take?
- What does success look like?
- What does your brand stand for? What doesn’t your brand stand for? What does consistent branding look like?
2. Assuming Your Audience Only Wants to Engage on One Channel
We all have social channels that we prefer using above others. You might scroll your Instagram feed throughout the day, but only open up Facebook to check in on family and close friends. On some days maybe you ignore your personal inbox entirely, while on others a message grabs your attention and you consume that brand’s content for an hour.
Content consumption preferences can be ambiguous, changeable, and unpredictable. This means you can’t assume that a lead only wants to hear from you on their first-conversion channel.
Successful integrated marketing opens up possibilities for each person to consume their ideal mix of content, on the platform they feel like using, at the exact moment they want it.
The challenge is creating a cohesive brand experience. And cohesion can often be measured by how seamlessly consumers can transition from channel to channel. Make sure you're comprehensive in addressing any overlaps between different marketing facets — no matter how insignificant they might seem.
For instance, your email signature is an excellent place to plug your social media handles, website URL, or video links. You can include links to your website, blog posts, content offers, or other digital content in your social media bios. And your blog and website are prime territories to incorporate social sharing buttons.
Almost every channel presents some sort of potential for crossover. The steps required to get the most out of those opportunities are easy to take and offer consistent, substantial payoffs. So take the time to go through all your channels and see if there's room for cross-promotion. If you're thorough and thoughtful, you're bound to find different ways to link the various aspects of your integrated marketing efforts.
3. Ignoring the Data You Collect
Successful integrated marketing efforts often rest on lessons learned from previous campaigns. Your integrated marketing initiatives need to be the byproduct of creativity within parameters set by knowledge and experience — accrued, in large part, through results analysis. That's why it's surprising to see so many companies hastily analyzing campaign data or neglecting to do so altogether.
Integrated marketing is a matter of progression. Your campaigns can't be a series of entirely independent, uninformed, "I have a feeling this will work" events — they need to have some factual, analytical basis to them.
The data you collect informs everything. Without paying attention to the data you collect, you are likely to:
- Lack a clear measurement of how your campaign is performing.
- Struggle to segment leads and send personalized messaging.
- Be unsure what steps to carry out next to deliver the most value to your audience.
- Ignore what you know about a lead to inform your content, which runs the risk of sending duplicate or irrelevant content.
As a first step to fix this, ensure you are collecting clear, organized, and error-free data on every channel.
Next, ask yourself and your team these questions:
- What data can we collect from our campaigns to help us deliver the most value, create the most personalized messaging, and quantify campaign performance in the most accurate way?
- What gaps and opportunities are there in our campaign data, and how can we fix these?
If your campaign produces a considerable amount of raw data. Don't gloss over it. If no one within your organization can thoroughly make sense of the information, seek the advice of outside experts.
One way or another, make sure any results your campaigns produce are comprehensively analyzed and understood. Doing so will ensure you have legitimate, factual insight behind the choices you make with your future integrated marketing efforts — not just hunches and speculation.
4. Not Using Results on One Platform to Enrich Others
Each time you learn something new about your leads, are you using this to enrich future interactions and provide the most personalized experience – not just on that channel, but on all others, too?
One of the easiest integrated marketing mistakes to make is not using the data collected on one channel to reinforce other channels.
This might be because it seems time-consuming to set up software integrations, and other tasks feel more urgent or important. But this can lead to longer-term losses.
For instance, let's say a lead signs up for a sustainable health webinar and completes a post-event survey about their content preferences, sharing that they’d like to hear more about your organic cosmetics range.
If you do nothing with this information, they’ll receive the same content as everyone else and maybe stumble upon a few messages that resonate.
However, imagine if you use the data to intentionally personalize interactions on other channels: such as by adding a tag on your email marketing app to send them new offers for your cosmetics range, offering them a discount code, or even personalizing ads.
Make sure to frequently ask your team how you are using what you learn on one platform to inform all others.
One of the most impactful ways to solve this is with data syncing. Integration tools like PieSync connect your apps and enable the right data to immediately flow to other relevant places. With the extra data at your fingertips, you can offer the most cohesive, personalized, and timely experience to every person on every platform.
5. Poor Communication Between Channel Owners
For integrated marketing to work, you need more than your data sets and marketing channels to talk to each other: your team members need to, as well!
It’s crucial to have a cohesive communication strategy on your team, meaning the person who owns your Instagram strategy knows what’s being scheduled for print media, event advertising, and all other channels that you’re using to share your message.
A simple way to facilitate collaboration is by using an all-in-one platform to manage your channels in one place and provide a bird’s eye view of what’s currently in place and scheduled.
It’s also always worth the time to continually improve internal communication flows with collaboration tools such as Slack alongside regular one-on-ones and processes to keep everyone in the loop.
6. Not Making it Easy for Other Teams to See the Big Picture
Another truth to remember is that marketing isn’t just about your marketing team. Your brand consists of every interaction a person has with your company, and that includes all interactions with your sales reps, support team, and any other teams or individuals at your company.
Enacting a cohesive campaign that spans several different channels, mediums, and platforms takes extra effort and clearer communication across departments.
This is especially important considering 87% of consumers believe that companies need to provide a more consistent customer experience.
For instance let's imagine a panini-maker company called Jay's Sandwich Systems. It's just released a new product — a panini-grill that doubles as a waterproof speaker.
The company opts to implement an integrated marketing campaign to promote it. The focal point of the campaign is trying to get users to post videos of them using the grill as they dance to the campaign's official theme song, "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie.
That's what the campaign's TV spots, email marketing efforts, digital videos, and blog content are all pushing. But the campaign stalls as soon as it starts. Very few people are posting the videos Jay's Sandwich Systems had hoped to see.
The company's social media team notices that people online don't think the song pairs well with the machine. Instead, there's a movement where social media users are posting videos of the grill playing Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law."
A solid commitment to cohesion in this situation would entail the social media manager relaying that information to the other departments. They would communicate clearly and determine whether it makes sense to shift the marketing efforts across their various channels away from Fergie to Judas Priest. If it makes sense financially and culturally, they'll need to make the shift across every channel involved in the campaign.
If your channels are completely siloed without consistency and communication, your integrated marketing campaigns won't actually be integrated. Cohesion is mission-critical in these types of efforts.
In all likelihood, the success of your integrated marketing campaign is going to rest on your channels' ability to move and adjust together.
You have to maintain a cohesive message, and that takes thorough planning and consistent communication.
These best practices will enable other teams to avoid this type of mistake and contribute to the success of your integrated marketing campaigns:
- Keep all teams informed of the integrated marketing campaigns that are running, what the goals are, and how they will affect their work.
- Link all necessary data. This creates a centralized database where your teams can access all of the key information they need to provide the best service, rather than having to log into multiple apps they’re unfamiliar with to get information.
- Sync relevant data to apps that other teams use every day, such as your customer support software, email marketing platform, or ecommerce platform. That way, your different teams goals will be aligned.
7. Making Promises You Can't Deliver On
In 1996, Pepsi enacted its "Pepsi Points" integrated marketing campaign. The company ran ads through print and on television to promote a system where consumers could collect "points" through labels on Pepsi products that they could redeem for prizes like t-shirts and sunglasses.
The campaign was partly centered around a tongue-in-cheek bit about how consumers could redeem seven million "Pepsi points" for a Harrier fighter jet. One advertisement featured a teenager flying the plane to school saying, "This sure does beat the bus!"
As I said, the advertisement was intended to be a joke, but a 21-year-old business student decided to take it seriously. He realized that it would cost $700,000 to accrue enough Pepsi points to buy the jet — which was valued at roughly $33.8 million. After finding enough investors to lend him the money he needed, he tried to buy the jet from Pepsi.
When Pepsi told him that they weren't going to sell him a military-grade fighter plane for less than 2% of its value, he took them to court. A surprisingly extensive legal battle ensued before the courts officially ruled that the campaign was clearly in jest — saying, "The callow youth featured in the commercial is a highly improbable pilot, one who could barely be trusted with the keys to his parents' car, much less the prize aircraft of the United States Marine Corps."
Still, Pepsi's integrated marketing campaign — where they supported their sweepstakes and point redemption system with print and television ads — was a bit careless. Though the company was making a joke, it was still making a promise that someone might take advantage of.
That's a factor to be mindful of when constructing your integrated marketing campaigns. You always have to walk the walk. For instance, if you're aligning your marketing channels and messaging with a specific social justice cause, you have to practice what you preach.
Integrated marketing campaigns often have a single, fundamental focal point. If yours is in that boat, make sure you understand what's at its core and any promises it might imply. If you can't handle them, you'll need to adjust your efforts.
8. Lacking a Clear View of Performance
If your reporting is limited, you won’t see the full picture of your integrated marketing performance. This can lead to uninformed decisions or not having sufficient information to pivot a campaign when you most need to.
For a transparent, multi-channel view of your integrated marketing campaigns, use a reporting solution that displays data from all key channels in one place.
Keep your finger on the pulse by tracking these metrics, ideally on a single dashboard:
- Number of leads per channel
- Conversion rate per channel
- Engagement per channel
- Time to conversion per channel
- Cost per lead per channel
Avoid Common Integrated Marketing Mistakes for Better Results All-Round
Effective marketing is integrated marketing. When integrated marketing is done well, your marketing platforms and campaigns are perfectly synced, your data flows seamlessly to enrich other apps in your stack, and your customers and team members have the most unified view of your brand.
By fixing common pitfalls in your integrated marketing strategy, you benefit more than just your marketing team – you benefit your brand as a whole, alongside all of the people who interact with it.
If the ideas at your campaign's core are sound and well-informed, and you're prepared to keep all the aspects of your marketing efforts on the same page, you're going to be in a good position to implement an effective integrated marketing effort.
Originally published Jun 25, 2020 2:00:00 PM, updated June 26 2020