Triple Integration: Campaigns, Media and Measurement
We hear the word "integration" in almost every conversation about multichannel marketing these days. Unfortunately, there seem to be almost as many definitions of the word as there are people who use it.
At the same time, there's no doubt that in marketing campaigns where a number of channels are used, the results benefit greatly from some kind of coordination.
As someone who comes from a client service background and now works in analytics, how do I see this coordination, or integration? I see it as a dinner party.
Imagine you're the host and you slave away in the kitchen to cook a delicious meal, set a beautiful table, select complementary wines and orchestrate a memorable experience for your guests. Obviously, there's a lot of work involved. All the ingredients for each dish must be on hand in the right quantities before you begin cooking. Once you start the actual cooking, each ingredient must be carefully measured and mixed in the right order. The wines have to be the right temperature. Place settings must be spotless, table decorations should be the right size and color, and everything must be in its rightful place before the guests arrive.
And once dinner is over, the best response you allow yourself to hope for is, "Thank you for a delightful evening; everything was wonderful." What you probably don't want to hear is something like, "The peas were delicious." The peas? So the peas were lovely. But the meat was a burnt offering, and you ran out of chocolate torte before everyone had a taste.
Obviously, the key is planning and coordination. Now, imagine that you're not alone in preparing and presenting this beautiful dinner, but that there are six chefs and a florist, each one competing with the others to shine at the party. That's where integration comes in.
Campaign integration means the coordination of the following elements:
- Message, offer, creative
- Media flighting
- Campaign reporting
- Optimization of media
- Customer touchpoints
- Flight planning
Only by getting all of these worked out in advance will you be able to give your target audience a total experience that impresses it and puts your brand in the best possible light. Let's look at the benefits of pulling each of these into tight integration with all of the others.
Message, Offer, Creative
These are the pillars of every marketing campaign, what we usually lump under the heading "marcom." It's important to manage them actively to ensure consistent communication across media and over time, which means rigorous testing and measuring response, sales and perception. Based on these ongoing results, you adjust accordingly.
Consistent communication doesn't mean that campaign elements must be identical twins—more like cousins. One common mistake is the attempt to force the execution of a concept created for mass into a direct marketing execution, for example. You must always be true to the medium.
Luckily, a strong concept (big idea) can be executed in many different ways, while remaining true to the idea. In this way, an execution can be chosen that is appropriate for the medium in question.
Let's say your main concept is based on a sad clown. The TV spot features a short sequence with a sad clown, and there isn't much dialogue. What can you do with the radio spot? How do you show slapstick behavior, normally requiring a series of actions, on a simple postcard? How do you get the concept across in a small online banner?
These are some of the challenges of integration. But when done skillfully and appropriately, the overall campaign benefits tremendously.
Benefit: In my experience, there is a measurable overall lift in response as a result of using a coherent and consistent message, offer and creative foundation.
This is akin to knowing better than to bring out the dessert before the main course arrives. While it may seem obvious, such tactical details sometimes can upset the end result.
One fairly common mistake is to allow production schedules, rather than optimal results, to govern flighting. Let's say a campaign kicks off, which includes a TV spot, a direct mail piece and an email blast. Each channel is the purview of a different agency. The mass agency begins storyboarding the TV spot, the direct marketing agency begins working on the mail piece and the email shop gets ready to blast. Simply because of production lead times, the email probably will be ready first, the mail piece second and the TV spot will take the longest. But if the campaign is allowed to roll out in that order, the results very well could be suboptimal.
By reversing the flighting order—TV, then mail piece, then email—the results almost certainly will be better.
So it's always a good idea to test and measure the effects of media flighting. In this way, you can determine an optimal media schedule for product, audience and seasonality. Be particularly sure to test direct response media flighting because of its controllable and repeatable nature.
Benefit: I've seen frequent examples of catalog and direct marketing having specific interaction effects that can provide either lift or suppression depending on timing. Getting it right definitely pays off.
Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. It's like flying a plane. We've got to know what's going on so we can make the constant corrections to keep ourselves on our flight plan.
This means we've got to be able to measure campaigns across multiple media using a common metric: cost per impression, cost per response, cost per sale, or whatever you and your analytics people decide is right. The main thing is that all channels use a comparable metric so you're comparing apples to apples.
At the monitoring level, it's important to engage all stakeholder groups in ongoing dashboards and readouts so appropriate changes can be made to maintain marcom efficiency and effectiveness. Accountability is key, down to the campaign/project level. If something isn't working, everyone knows, and you can work together to fix it. Diligence in this area translates into a happy landing.
Benefit: A comparable metric, agreed to by all departments, agencies and stakeholder groups, is a game-changer for marketing in your company. Because all decisions now can be made "for the common good," the interdepartmental protectionism that often festers within channel silos begins to become obvious for what it is-a recipe for suboptimization.
Optimization of Media
A natural extension of common metrics and success measurement—and therefore the modification of underperforming media and/or campaigns—is the action that can then be taken. Campaigns/media/offers/messages can be tweaked, increased or decreased to deliver a better return for the same investment. Alternatively, in the current economic environment, necessary budget cuts can be made with minimum impact on overall sales revenue.
Benefit: A comparable metric allows you to determine which media, offers and messages drive the best ROI, so you can modify or eliminate nonperforming campaigns and/or media. It's the most powerful combination of analytics and marketing management I've ever seen. It systematically boosts overall marketing ROI more than anything else.
For those who champion enterprisewide marketing ROI, this arms you to go toe to toe with the financial interests within the company. The marketing budget begins to be viewed as an investment rather than an expense, because the returns are clear and can be validated.
The coordination and optimization of customer touchpoints across media, departments and campaigns are key roles of integration management. Embed in this discipline a planned and predetermined hierarchy of touchpoints, media and offers.
A "touchpoint decision tree" should be driven by strategic company goals, balanced with product attainment goals- but always with customer experience as the primary consideration. With the right comparable metric and reporting dashboards in place, you immediately see when results begin to decline due to too much communication with your customer/prospect in any given time period.
Benefit: Customers are growing increasingly opinionated about how often they wish to receive communications and through which media. By allowing them to choose, and by honoring their wishes—while still watching your metrics to prevent overcommunication—churn and abandonment numbers decline, and customer satisfaction increases.
So you've identified your customer groups, media touches and touch frequency. Then you've overlaid offers and specific messages into a flight plan at the customer group level. Now, you essentially have the components of a directional road map, which is understood, shared and agreed upon across all departments, agencies and stakeholders involved in marcom operations.
Benefit: The execution of this flight plan (along with its predefined comparable metric) results in the ability to measure and analyze ROI, which further allows you to refine and optimize the flight plan for future periods.
Integration and analytics as a cohesive operation are inherently difficult because of the coordination of different philosophies, groups, agencies, media and budgets. Our perfect dinner party may have turned into a kind of "pot luck," where each guest brings a different dish to the table, but with careful coordination, cooperation and integration, the end result can very well be a better dining experience.
Kim Richardson is vice president of analytics for Javelin Marketing Group, which provides enterprisewide applied measurement and analytics services as well as full-service CRM solutions.