When I started in marketing and advertising years ago, I learned the importance of integrated marketing - ensure there's consistency of message across TV, radio, print, direct mail and out-of-home. Today, integration is more important than ever given the addition of web, social, email, mobile, and SEO/SEM.
Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust.
Given the number of channels across which our messaging is disseminated, it's easy for marketing communications campaigns to fail.
- Message are fragmented, or incongruent, across media channels.
- There's little to no strategic planning, let alone messaging planning.
- The campaign process is slow, or non-existent, and uncoordinated.
- Companies are unprepared to share information across the organization (i.e. silos) and the information is frequently inconsistent.
- There's a lack of transparency and cross-channel communication.
- There's no on-going dialog across the organization, sharing insights, how the customer interacted with tthe communications, what worked and what didn't.
Integrated marketing today menas collecting all customer information from all channels and integrating it to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so you can meet their needs and wants without asking them to tell you what they've already told someone else in your company.
Incorporating all online and offline data provides you the opportunity to personalize your communications with customers and ensuring you are providing information of value that's relevant to them and where they arein the buying cycle. You can answer the customer's question before they ask it. You will save them time and become easier to do business with, thereby earning their trust.
More knowledge, greater segmentation, more consistent and relevant will lead to more conversions in shorter sales cycles.
In addition, tracking the customer experience (CX) after the sale, across multiple touch points, enables your to build an ongoing relationship with the customer and gives you a better opportunity to create a "customer for life" rather than a single sales event.
I've been using marketing automation since 2009 when I went through HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University and became convinced of the benefits of inbound, content, marketing in conjunction with outbound marketing.
Here are the 10 benefits I've found using marketing automation:
- Save time by creating campaigns and posts ahead of time and schedule them for a time, event and target persona in the future. This ensures the right message is being delivered to the right person at the right time.
- Provide personalized, targeted relevant information of value. If I know what you are looking for and am able to provide the answer to your question or a case study that addresses your situation, I'm simplifying your buying process and your life.
- Improve marketing staff efficiency. One employee can create complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers of prospects than is possible to do manually.
- Improve marketing operations efficiency as you define and document processes, technology, best practices and measurements so that you are constantly refining and improving rather than "reinventing the wheel."
- Ensure consistent messaging across all channels (traditional, digital and social) with regards to content, time and branding. This is critical since consistent messaging builds trust, while inconsistent messaging breeds confusion and distrust among customers and prospects.
- Access detailed reports on the performance of each campaign across each channel so you know what's working and where improvements are needed.
- Field A/B tests on different elements of your marketing campaign including -- subject lines, from addresses, primary messages, images, offers and calls-to-action. One marketing automation platform even enables you to execute A/B/C/D tests.
- Score and nurture leads so you can differentiate between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). This enables you to continue a lead nurturing campaign with MQLs while the sales team pursues SQLs.
- Learn more about your customers and prospects via progressive profiling whereby you ask them to provide additional, relevant, information based on the information you have already collected in your CRM. This is also a great way to ask customers and prospects to verify the information in your CRM which atrophies at the rate of 33% per year.
- Improve business results per the Aberdeen Group: lead conversion up 107%, average deal size up 40%, team attainment of quota up 20% and forecast accuracy up 17%.
An affirming webinar by Shannon Sullivan Duffy, Marketing Director at Facebook, Doug Chavez, CMO at Kenshoo, Jeanette Gibson, V.P. of Customer Experience at HootSuite and Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics.
They provided the following affirmations we need to remember in order to empower our employees to help us market our businesses and provide an outstanding customer experience:
- Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Encourage them to engage prospects and customers in conversation to learn their needs and wants in order to simplify their lives.
- Be clear about the roll of social in your business. Do you want to drive awareness and leads or simply monitor what others' are saying about you and your brand? Identify channels on which you are committed to serving customers and prospects -- providing information of value, answering questions and addressing concerns.
- Integrate across all channels in which you are communicating to ensure you are delivering a consistent message. Consistency builds trust.
- Determine what's most important for you and your business to accomplish online -- no one model works for everyone or for every type of business.
- Understand your customer's journey and do what you can to add value and simplify that journey. Everyone is overloaded with content and starved for time. What can you do to simplify your customers' lives and save them time?
- Respond quickly and efficiently. Responding to an online query within five minutes increases the probability that person becomes a lead 100X more than if you wait 30 minutes. If you respond within five minutes, the person is likely still at their computer, or on their mobile device, and you're able to reach them.
- Think about how to integrate social media into everything you and your business does. Promote a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for content that your customers and prospects will find valuable. Such content will answer previously asked questions or provide new ideas on how your product or service will solve a particular problem.
- Having a content marketing mindset helps ensure you are sending an integrated message since all content can be repurposed for social media, earned media, paid media, as well as your website.
What are some ways you, your firm and your employees are using social media to grow your business and provide a better customer experience?
Great webinar by Heather Whaling (@prtini), CEO of Goben Communications, Heidi Sullivan (@hksully) SVP of Digital Content at Cision and Scott Livingston, SVP of Market Engagement at Cision entitled, "Marketing Through Content: Integrated Communications Strategies That Work."
Having been a proponent of integrated marketing since my career began, and also being a proponent of inbound and content marketing, I think this is an extremely important topic that gets far too little discussion as we see the proliferation of media channels.
Just as TV and radio are more effective when used together, rather than independently, content, social, digital and traditional media are all more effective if used together rather than independently.
As marketers, it is critical that we ensure the consistency of message, tone and brand voice across all of the channels we use to market our brands.
Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.
I am a big fan of Chipotle and their commitment to delivering "food with integrity." However, when I saw "Farmed and Dangerous," their sarcastic look into "big food" companies, that felt off brand and inconsistent to me.
I reached out to Chipotle to share my thoughts, and while I never got a response, I haven't seen the second of four episodes of "Farmed and Dangerous." I hope they'll let it die.
So how can you ensure a consistent message is delivered across all the channels through which you communicate with customers and prospects?
Heidi provided the Altimeter Group's "converged media workflow" -- how brands must combine paid, earned and owned media:
- Content strategy. If you don't have a creative strategy brief, get one and make sure everyone on your team fully understands it and is interpreting it in the same way.
- Publication across channels. Determine where your customers and prospects are most receptive to hearing from you. Where do they want their questions answered? How do they want to find out about a new product or service?
- Engagement/dialog. People don't engage with companies or brands, they engage with the people behind the brand. Empower your employees to engage in a dialog with customers. This will enhance their emotional connection with the brand. The more employees they have a positive experience with, the stronger the emotional connection.
- Amplification. Produce content (advertising, press releases, blog posts, tweets) that people find sufficiently compelling to want to share. I think Chipotle did a great job of this with "The Scarecrow."
- Restructuring. Think about how content can be repurposed across channels in paid, earned and owned media. Customize content for the channel but ensure that it remains on strategy and consistent with all your other messages. Think about how you can use each piece of content 10 different times in 10 different channels by repurposing the content.
- Listening/iterating. What are your customers and prospects taking away from your messages? Don't assume you know, ask them! Don't be afraid to engage your customers and prospects in a conversation because they may tell you something you don't want to hear. In the age of the Internet and social media, the customer creates your brand perception. Do you want to participate in the creation or stand idly by?
- Strategic analysis and reporting. As part of your strategic planning process, identify key performance indicators and monitor them religiously. Don't forget to supplement analytics with qualitative insights that let you know why a customer or prospect is reacting the way are.
Identify the stories you should be telling by learning which ones elicit an emotional connection with your customers.
What are the stories your customers are telling about you?
What are the stories your employees are telling each other about providing an outstanding customer experience?
Stories are much more memorable, and shared, than features and benefits.
Engage your raving fans in a conversation to help identify the most compelling stories that support your strategy and brand promise.
By doing so, your customers will become brand ambassadors and share your stories with their friends, family and colleagues.
Email is not going away as a key communications and sales channel for B2B or B2C companies.
It's the best way to nurture leads you may have gained with a content marketing program and social media.
A recent Direct Marketing Association survey determined the ROI of email to be 4300%.
It's what to use when you want to move from "conversation to commerce."
Following are best practices to consider to improve your email marketing effort:
- Establish a single email marketing platform. Using a single platform improves the probability of consistent presentation and branding and reduces the opportunities for errors.
- Manage customer data effectively. Gather data from multiple sources and always be scrubbing. Check for bad email addresses, track opt-in permissions ask customers to update their data. Research "bounces" and clean or delete them until you have accurate information. The more you know about a customer or prospect, the more relevant and targeted the message. The more relevant and targeted the message, the higher the open and click-through rate.
- Form a single view of customer data across multiple interaction points. Empower those interacting with customers to update data to keep it as clean and up to date as possible.
- Start the relationship right. Give subscribers detailed opt-in options that make it clear what they will receive and when. Set and meet subscriber expectations.
- Create compelling and relevant content. Today's buyers and consumers demand concise, relevant information that will inform them and empower them to make better decisions. Emails must be personalized in terms of message and content.
- Strive to create a dialog with your customer. Customers and prospects now expect companies to engage them in conversations, ask their opinions and present content that take these conversations into account.
- Spam-proof all messages. Ensure links are working and confirm that the links are not on any blacklists.
- Respond in real-time with the right content. Create triggered alerts for customers or prospects by using their preferences to support event dates that enable them to tell you when something important is happening.
- Leverage social sharing. Ensure social sharing links, as well as "forward to a friend" links, are at the end of every email.
- Build a solid infrastructure to ensure email deliverability. 20% of all email ends up in junk files. Only 80% of permissioned-based commercial email is delivered to the in box.
- Make sure your emails are mobile friendly. 43% of email is opened on a mobile device and that number is just going to rise.
What steps have you taken to improve your email marketing efforts?
Following are the leading blog posts during 2013.
Thank you for reading and sharing with others you think would be interested.
Please let me know if I can assist you, or your firm, in any way.
- Apple gives up 20% of it’s floor-space for its Genius Bars. Can you imagine the initial discussion with a retailer to give up 20% of their floor space for something that doesn’t directly produce revenue? Without Genius Bars, would Apple stores have the highest revenue per square foot of any retailer? – Michael Kramer, former CFO, Apple
- The best designers can determine opportunities to improve the user experience.
- You can’t design for the world, you have to design for the person. – Deborah Adler, Owner, Deborah Adler Design (#da_studio)
- The trick to improving design is to be there, on the ground, and seeing it being used. – Deborah Adler, Owner, Deborah Adler Design
- It’s no longer sufficient to create a product, a service, an experience, or a lifestyle that’s merely functional. Today it’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is also beautiful, whimsical or emotionally engaging. – Daniel Pink, Author, A Whole New Mind (#DanielPink)
- We’ve become accustomed to how corporations brand products. That lives in our minds and psyche – and when they’re doing something slightly different, we don’t pledge our loyalty as easily. – Scott Thomas, Design Director, Obama Campaign
- Branding is so important. It’s more than just a logo mark or typeface, it’s a holistic idea that people recognize. A level of consistency is fundamental to our loyalty and understanding. – Scott Thomas, Design Director, Obama Campaign
- Sharing ideas isn’t scary, it’s the way of the future. – Ben Kaufman, Founder, Quirky (#benkaufman). This is consistent with idea that the Internet rewards those who share and penalizes those that do not.
- Done properly, design harnesses the pure emotion of the brand. – Alexander McQueen, Fashion Designer (#worldmcqueen)
- If you’re possessed by focusing on the customer, and you’re possessed by making improvements and you can demonstrate that by making, by drawing, by shaping – you’ve got half the thing done. – John Hoke, V.P., Global Design, Nike (#nike)
- It’s important to have a culture that doesn’t punish you if you make a mistake. It’s part of the innovation process. – Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer, Pepsico (#MauroPorcini). This is consistent with my belief that you should make mistakes early and often, just don't make the same mistake twice.
- Market growth alone doesn’t give you enough tailwind. You need to create your own. The way to do that is by designing products for consumers that wow them. Not just the way they look, but that every aspect of what they buy delights them. – Indra Hooti, CEO, Pepsico (#pepsico)
- First you need to engender trust. You need to create an experience that’s beautiful, that creates emotional connections with people and connotes quality. – Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker (#NeilBlumenthal)
- Confusion leads to distrust. Distrust results in people not buying. – Tom Smith
- You don’t know what’s going to work. You can’t go and build the final product. You have to build the prototype. You don’t know how people are going to use something. – Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City
- As we better understand users, we need to adapt. Actually it’s not just adapting, it’s visualizing what users don’t know they need yet, where they will be in a few years. – Marcos Weskamp, Head of Design, Flipboard (#marumushi)
- We were trying to get emotion as an outcome, as opposed to utility. That’s a core attribute of the design at Apple. – Tim Kobe, Co-Founder, Eight Inc. (#timkobe)
- When asked what beauty means for Google, they’d eventually settle on an answer that involved the idea of simplicity, and, deeper than that, invisibility. – Google Design Team (#google)
- In all of these efforts, Goggle’s aesthetic aim is clear: to disappear. The most beautiful Google experience is the one you never notice. – Google Design Team
- Thoughtful design doesn't just enable our habits; it pushes us to improve behavior, making us more economical, reflective and responsible. -- Margaret Rhodes, FastCompany
- To improve day-to-day hardships, designers must do what cold clinical solutions do not; treat those in need as regular customers, whose emotions drive decisions. -- Margaret Rhodes, FastCompany
A friend of mine recently completed a two-month stint as a director at a major, $50MM+, advertising agency.
I was surprised when she told me the agency did not subscribe to critical third-party resources, or complete post-buy analysis, to ensure the client was getting the best media for their money, or even getting the media they thought they were buying.
In this day and age, it’s hard to believe an agency can keep clients without subscribing to resources or providing the fundamental services agencies provided just five years ago.
In the event you use an ad agency, here are 10 steps you should take to ensure you’re getting the most for your money:
- Make sure the agency is directly subscribed to independent third-party syndicated research (e.g., Nielsen Local and National Television Audiences, Arbitron Local Radio Audiences, GfkMRI, Scarborough Local Survey Data, Nielsen @plan, Comscore, Sysomos, etc.) to ensure they are accurately assessing the target performance of TV shows, radio stations, print media and digital/social channels.
- Find out how the agency negotiates with different media channels on your behalf. Are they using third-party cost benchmarks? If not, why? What kind of quantifiable value-add are you getting for your media buys?
- What sort of project management system is in place? How is time documented? How are projects tracked to ensure they are being completed as efficiently as possible?
- What sort of reports do you receive? Conference reports after every meeting? Weekly/monthly status reports?
- Who’s working on your account? The senior team that pitched your business or the junior team, or even worse, interns that cost the agency even less?
- Who is doing the creative and channel optimization of your digital media? Are they experienced digital experts?
- How do they approach tracking and post-buy analysis of all of your media? Have you performed an audit of their analysis to ensure it is sound?
- Are the media being paid by the agency in a timely manner or is the agency using the money you pay them for media to pay other expenses?
- How, and how frequently, do you evaluate the agency’s performance? Hopefully you have an open and trusting relationship and there’s an ongoing dialogue of how both the agency and client can improve in certain areas.
- Is the agency making a fair return on their work for you? Have you discussed what a fair return is and does your agency share their financial performance with you on, at least, an annual basis?
With the evolution of marketing over the past 10 years, a lot of agencies have gone out of business and a lot of agencies have opened their doors providing only digital or social media support.
I am a VERY strong proponent of multichannel integrated marketing campaigns that use traditional, digital and social media as well as inbound and outbound marketing.
Just as I never saw a single channel (i.e., TV only) traditional media campaign outperform a multimedia (i.e., TV plus radio plus print) campaign in traditional media; I do not believe a social-only campaign can outperform a social plus digital campaign.
However, the number of agencies with the employees with the knowledge to execute fully integrated campaigns is dwindling. Make sure you’re giving your product or service the best opportunity for success by working with marketing professionals that understand the totality of integrated marketing and its benefits.
Thanks to Don E. Schultz for his recent article entitled, "IMC: Who's Doing It Right?" in a recent edition of Marketing News.
Companies that are doing integrated marketing right today have done the following:
- Changed their focus from their products and services to their customers and prospects.
- Designed a structure that aligns the entire organization, internally and externally, to service customers.
- Developed a process that puts a value on customers by investing the "right" organizational resources in communicating with customers over time.
- Created a process that measures the returns on consumer communications investments.
- Done this for a large organization with a multitude of customers and generated substantial financial returns.
- Accomplished the aforementioned with an affordable number of people and external resources.
Successful companies today are made up of people focused on accountability and generating returns rather than pumping out promotional products.
They are concerned with optimizing the customer experience rather than leade generation.
In what ways can you improve your integrated marketing communications?