Marketers face new problems as the digital revolution continues to thrive. The rise of the Internet has led to a surfeit of content, drowning out messaging that might otherwise shine. At the same time, the fractured media landscape makes it harder for one message to connect with increasingly segmented audiences holed up in their individual social spheres. This is an issue for B2B companies as much as B2Cs: 94 percent of B2B buyers research products and services online,1 and 88 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing to help them with their buying decisions.2
Increasingly, integrated marketing serves as a go-to solution, but there’s plenty that people misunderstand, and misapply, about this marketing strategy that makes traditional and digital channels work together to create a sum greater than its parts. It’s not just opening a Twitter account to supplement printed ads; it’s a holistic process that guides marketers through the buyer’s journey and beyond, ensuring your brand stays in focus and serves your marketing and sales goals. To help you apply the fundamentals, we’re sharing the critical dos and don’ts of integrated marketing.
Do: Target Your Audience
To re-create the consistent brand exposure that marketers once took for granted, focus on getting your message to the right prospects and following them as they move across channels and platforms. Simply creating content and blindly posting it will not help your business build its reputation or develop a relationship with prospects. Integrated marketing instructs us to develop detailed buyer personas to figure out who you want to sell to and how to sell to them. Start by asking yourself:
- Who are we marketing to?
- What is their position and at what kind of company do they work?
- What problems do they have that our product or service can help them solve?
- What channels do they use to find information?
Use these questions to target an audience that can be pursued effectively. This will help you avoid losing focus, wasting resources or executing generalized and uncompelling marketing tactics. It will also help you stand out in the deluge of content that’s desensitizing consumers.
Don’t: Deliver Conflicting Messages
Your digital and traditional marketing need to stay in tune with each other, or you’ll end up losing prospects when they cross from one channel to another.
A unified and consistent brand voice and message need to be broadcast across all chosen channels. While your messaging should adapt to each individual platform, it should still convey the original message and remain uniquely you, in accordance with your company’s personality, tone of voice and brand identity.
In the age of smartphones and smart TVs, consumers have constant access to media and expect a seamless experience across devices and platforms. Movement between channels seems natural to prospects, so they expect content, and the brands they show interest in, to remain consistent just as naturally. Integrated marketing teaches us to build our marketing efforts around the buyer’s experience, and the buyer requires clarity, convenience and engagement. Consumers will reward you by paying attention to your company and purchasing your product or service; research shows that supplying a consistent message across channels increases a prospect’s brand perception by 68 percent and their intent to purchase by 90 percent.3 To create this experience, you need to clearly define that brand for yourself, and then make sure that brand is consistently instilled in the market.
Do: Use the Integrated Marketing Framework
Integrated marketing uses a reliable framework that applies your brand’s strategy throughout your tools and tactics. It creates a fully-formed experience throughout a consumer’s involvement with your company, as they interact with content, engage with the sales team and make their purchase. This increases the staying power and potency of your message, attracting prospects, converting prospects into customers and turning customers into brand evangelists and influencers. It’s even beneficial to your bottom-line since it’s more cost-effective to deliver a single message from the beginning than struggling with multiple conflicting messages.
The framework starts with developing your brand and planning how to adapt it to the market. From there, it encourages you to develop assets like websites and collateral based on how you want to communicate your brand, so they’re optimized to convey it. Once everything is in place, integrated marketing takes advantage of these tools to deliver your messaging and build brand awareness through the channels that are right for your goal.
Different channels, or tactics, have different purposes and advantages, and integrated marketing ensures they have a rational, supportive connection with each other that optimizes their individual performance. Through pay-per-click and SEO, digital and content marketing guarantee brand exposure. PR and social media programs build on that exposure by shaping your brand’s reputation and building direct relationships with prospects. Traditional marketing cements those relationships and closes sales with tangible, in-person tactics that carry a greater weight for consumers accustomed to navigating the morass of online media.
By utilizing each platform harmoniously, the integrated marketing framework builds a reliable sales cycle that promotes your brand at every step. Since your content, messaging and how you deliver it all stem from your brand, you can be sure that your channels complement each other, and what reaches your prospects supports your goals. To read more about the integrated marketing framework and other advantages of integrated marketing, check out this whitepaper, The Case for Integrated Marketing.
Don’t: Rest on Your Laurels
If you apply the integrated marketing framework, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your B2B messaging with a consistent voice that works for both digital and traditional media. But optimization doesn’t stop there; on the contrary, integrated optimization offers continuous improvement. Because you manage your channels with a single purpose, you’re able to track what techniques work best.
Unlike other types of marketing, where communication between different channel managers is limited, integrated marketing allows your business to function as a cohesive unit, adjusting levels of digital and traditional according to their efficacy, and even drilling down into specific channels such as email and social. This optimizes your marketing by ensuring it fits your prospect pool with precision.
If your social media marketing attracts a small, supportive audience while your email marketing achieves broad interest, you can decrease the frequency of your social posts to avoid turning off your followers, and increase the reach of your emails to take advantage of the potential customer base you’ve located. By increasing communication and control, integrated optimization produces maximum impact with minimal waste.
Do: Use Data to Make Decisions
An efficient, fine-grained marketing approach can only be achieved with data, and integrated marketing makes the most of your database by measuring digital and traditional channels by the same fundamental criteria. Although each channel requires individual KPIs, by measuring their success against the same goal of serving your brand, you have consistent values for what’s working. This creates an accurate, reliable way to tell if your marketing is growing your business, and it empowers you to compare social and traditional channels and spot trends across all your marketing efforts. You’ll know if a traditional ad takes off because of digital’s support, for example, or if certain kinds of content perform better on social than traditional. By tracking your collective audience, instead of individual channels, you’ll be able to message more effectively and build deeper relationships with your prospects.
Don’t: Neglect the Future
Once you optimize your current approach, you should set yourself up for continued success. Integrated marketing helps businesses invest in their future by continually growing their audience and client base. To do this, you need to focus on building trust in your brand, not just prodding leads to make a purchase.
Consumers today have been overexposed to branded media, so they’re more interested in engaging with companies that have genuine authority on a subject. They expect to google topics and access content freely, and to begin a relationship, you need to be the one to provide them the experience they’re seeking, whether they’re a new prospect or a loyal client.
Here are three reliable, long-term programs to gain lasting credibility and achieve enduring engagement with prospects and clients:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
Content marketing campaigns are affordable to create and compound over time. Once you’ve made one, it’s yours forever to adapt for everything from social posting to collateral. It gives you authority over a subject related to your product, builds trust in your brand and attracts new leads to your site. If the information stays relevant, one great piece of content can continue to attract leads year after year.
Content marketing works best when partnered with SEO and social media marketing. SEO will ensure your content is seen by your ideal prospects. Using keyword research, you can design content around topics your target audience cares about, and with the correct website structure, your site will appear high in their search results.
Social media marketing allows you, your prospects and your customers to share your content. This is a key advantage because 83 percent of consumers claim they trust the recommendations of friends and family on what to buy—more than any other source.4 It’s possible to tap into this potent form of marketing, but you’ll have to earn your audience’s trust, and thankfully, social media allows you to do so by engaging with your prospects, answering questions and providing timely customer support.
Do: Consult the Experts
If you apply these fundamentals, you’ll be ready to tackle the most pressing challenges of today and tomorrow. However, while these dos and don’ts are a great place to start, we recommend further study to fully adopt an integrated marketing approach. To facilitate that process, we at Sagefrog are happy to answer questions or provide support as needed. Sagefrog is a leading B2B integrated marketing agency, and we’re always open to providing information that will help accelerate success. Feel free to contact us, and if you’d like to read more, check out the whitepaper The Case for Integrated Marketing below.
1. 94 Percent of B2B Buyers Research Online for Purchase Decisions, Brafton
2. 35 Content Marketing Statistics You Need To Know In 2016, Forbes
3. The Undeniable Benefit of a Consistent Cross Channel Marketing Message, Oracle
4. Recommendations From Friends Remain Most Credible Form of Advertising Among Consumers, Nielsen