It might not have seemed like it then, but marketing used to be a breeze. Throw up a billboard, write up an ad for the weekly news magazine, and maybe send out a direct mailing when the mood struck. OK, maybe I'm oversimplifying the past a bit, but you understand my point. When the Internet came along, it brought a myriad of new ways to market your product in a somewhat Wild West-ian effort to - hopefully - reach target customers.
With so many digital marketing routes to take, how do you organize your strategies? Whether you keep your digital marketing strategists in-house or outsource the work, you'll face two choices. One, you treat your marketing endeavors as separate worlds. Someone (or some agency) handles your SEM, another your public relations, another your social media, and maybe another your search engine optimization (SEO). Your other option is integration, and this is what most companies should strive for. You should have one digital marketing plan that encompasses all of the marketing tactics (PR, SEO, etc.) that you want to test, and not a different, disconnected plan for each.
Whether you're integrating in-house or hiring an agency that can keep all your digital marketing activities in sync, you'll soon realize there are some major benefits to taking this approach. Here are three:
1. Integrating Can Bring Out Your Core Message
SEO. SEM. PR. Social media. If you're a company that doesn't handle these foundations of digital marketing in-house, it's very possible you've got two or three outside agencies laser-focused on their respective area of expertise. Your SEM agency will do whatever it takes to get you the most whitepaper downloads, for example, while your PR agency fights tooth and nail to get your CEO an interview in Forbes. These two agencies, more often than not, are never in contact and probably don't care what the other is doing (or what messaging conclusions they've learned about your brand along the way).
Often, you'll find what works in one medium can be adapted to your advantage elsewhere. Moreover, integration allows marketing tactics to combine in ways they might not otherwise; for example, using a pay-per-click advertising campaign to help promote a viral video, or using SEO keyword analysis to help craft a press release.
2. Integrating Can Give You Clarity
Not every marketing platform will work for every company, but companies can often stubbornly stick to strategies they think they need to follow (sometimes for no better reason than because that's what their competition is doing). Putting all digital media under the same microscope - so that the return on investments can be evaluated side-by-side and not in a silo - really helps companies better understand what marketing platforms work best for their brand.
If your Google AdWords campaign is attracting new leads for pennies a day while your PR campaign struggles to generate buzz or website visits, companies must re-balance their marketing spend. Too many companies are blindly saying, "We'll spend $10,000 on an SEM agency, $15,000 on a social media agency, and $12,000 for a PR agency." You should not look at these merely as line items. Rather, by integrating these three, and instead saying there is a $37,000 budget for all of marketing, you've made the different marketing strategies more malleable.
Digital marketing isn't like print ads, billboards, or Super Bowl spots where spending is rigid and concrete (and where you generally have a better idea of what you're getting, in terms of penetration volume). Digital marketing is much easier to experiment with, from a budget perspective, if everything is integrated.
3. Integrating Can Save You Money
This mostly applies to companies that outsource their PR, SEO, SEM, and such, but having all of those managed under the same roof, by the same team (assuming the capability of doing so), can drastically cut costs.
So go ahead and connect the dots between your previously disparate digital marketing undertakings - you'll find that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.
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Jeff Lerner, vice president, digital media, joined full service digital marketing firm Prime Visibility in 2011 after spending seven years at Google working across all digital media platforms. At Google, Jeff managed the digital advertising spend of the top TV networks and sports leagues, including NBC, ABC, ESPN, the NFL, and Major League Baseball and was responsible for the launch of the advertising sales team in the newly-created Google Brazil office. During his tenure at Google, Jeff has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Sales Excellence Award, Industry Expertise Award, and the Google Impact Award. Jeff holds a BA in sports marketing from George Washington University.
Prime Visibility is owned by blinkx (BLNX), the world's largest and most advanced video search engine, with headquarters in San Francisco and the U.K.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT