When it comes to integrated marketing, the rules have changed as much as they've stayed the same. It's still the marketer's job to ensure that your product or company remains first and foremost in the customers' minds. With economic constraints for both consumers and marketers, and the proliferation of channels, this task is harder than ever. How do you continue to grow your business and increase revenue in a way that's smart and cost-effective?
During my 15-year career in marketing services, I've weathered a few economic downturns and two recessions. When faced with economic hardship, marketers must be even more vigilant about spending dollars efficiently and effectively while tracking ROI. Recession or not, aim for a balanced approach when it comes to timing, targeting and channel. This is where a well-designed and effective integrated marketing campaign comes into play.
Beyond having a better chance of reaching the customer, integrated marketing campaigns have the ability to boost revenue, retain customers and help identify and connect with new prospects.
Integrated marketing is, in one word, strategic. It allows companies to strip away unnecessary marketing strategies that have been unsuccessful in the past, opening the door to new communication opportunities. Choosing the right message, through the right channel, at the right time, to the right customer, using the right data will drive results and revenue.
'Push' and 'Pull'
It's a common misconception that "multichannel" is a synonym for "integrated," and that employing multiple channels is the hallmark of an integrated campaign. Truly integrated methods use both "pull" and "push" marketing channels to deploy a consistent campaign across different media. Not only does this approach allow for tailoring the company's message, media and distribution to their ideal customer, it's also cost-effective. By choosing the channel best suited for your product's message and target consumers based on research and data, marketers can avoid hidden costs.
Similarly, most companies integrate around the channel rather than the customer. This approach fails to reap results because it disregards the end user and end goal: a sale. Marketers should first integrate their efforts with the customer in mind, then consider the channel.
Every year, marketers waste millions of dollars on unnecessary postage and online ads that never see returns. Truly integrated campaigns lead to increased revenue, greater customer retention and, most importantly, a bigger return on investment. The push and pull aspects of integrated marketing are equally important and must be combined to create a long-term, adaptable plan that can be refined based on initiatives that have either worked or proven unsuccessful.
These initiatives require careful preparation. Just because a marketer believes it has identified the correct channels to execute both push and pull messages doesn't mean it won't encounter unforeseen issues when it comes to data.
The Importance of Data
Does a message really matter if the correct customer never receives it? A rich database full of customer demographic data, insights, contextual data and relational data is the heart of an effective integrated campaign. Databases are the foundation, and are just as important as the right message or channel.
More often than not, marketers run into five common mistakes when it comes to integrated marketing. Fortunately, these five mistakes can be avoided by staying a step ahead of the game and enlisting the help of a few powerful marketing tools.
1. Don't Ignore the Power of Postal
Email may seem like the simplest and most cost-effective way to reach customers, but ignoring postal could lead to an even costlier outcome. When it comes to email contacts, there is a good chance you are missing out on a majority of your target profiles, or in most cases have tons of bounce back from outdated addresses. By solely relying on email marketing, marketers miss out on the full extent of their potential reach.
Consumers are also overwhelmed by online advertising. Between spam, pop-up advertisements and disruptive advertising, postal is coming into its own as an integral component of effective campaigns. A well-crafted, personalized postal piece, including brochures, catalogs or flyers, could potentially deliver greater results than an email. Physical mail demands attention, and marketers shouldn't declare it dead just yet.
2. Be Aware of What Generates Your Online Results
If you don't know where your results come from, how can your campaign improve? Rather than waiting until after you have finished a campaign to start making changes, online analytics tools allow marketers to track their progress and refine simultaneously. Tracking how users arrived at your site can indicate the success of your SEO or SEM efforts and drastically improve the outcome of a campaign. Analytics allow you to find out what is working, what's not and discover other options that may be able to supplement the initiatives that have failed. Fortunately, online campaigns can be easily modified in real-time, allowing results to improve almost as quickly.
3. Poor Data Hygiene
Data is living, which is what makes managing it one of the most challenging aspects of marketing. It is constantly changing as consumers live out their lives. Whether contact or demographic information, marketers need a way to keep their databases as up to date as possible.
When considering data cleansing, consider not only the cost savings, but also the amount of time your team will save by reaching only relevant contacts. Data cleansing programs are readily available and reliably shed outdated or irrelevant results from your database. Using clean data before reaching out to consumers will remarkably improve ROI.
4. Inefficient (or Nonexistent) Use of Modeling
Modeling is the most effective way to target the right prospects for your product, yet many companies forgo modeling for costly trial-and-error efforts. Naturally, the return on investment diminishes with each failed effort.
Without using effective models, companies waste money targeting irrelevant consumers and businesses. By mapping and modeling various scenarios and prospects, data lists can be narrowed down to distinct customer profiles. Prospects you identify based on in-house data and modeling are a perfect starting point to help identify gaps and ensure returns.
5. Hasty or Haphazard Results Analysis
You have the results from your campaign—now what? Many marketers will jump right into their next initiative, rather than taking the time to properly analyze their results. They either skip the process entirely or don't incorporate counsel from expert strategists who have the ability to accurately interpret a rich amount of data. Others will focus all of their energies into one effort or campaign rather than looking ahead and mapping out future progress.
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking the time to analyze results and adapt future efforts has a significant impact on overall performance. Through the analysis, marketers can refine their efforts by using the lessons learned in the first campaign. Analysis lets you see the bigger picture; it defines how your efforts have affected the company as a whole beyond a particular campaign.
Integrated marketing does not equate to flooding the market with your message. A well-designed, well-researched campaign that is targeted to specific customer profiles may require more legwork, but ultimately saves time and money. Clean data paired with a meticulous analytics process will increase chances of success and result in a model that may work across customer profiles, business units and products.
Don Patrick is the President of Omaha, Neb.-based list and data provider Infogroup Targeting Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.