Delivering on the Promise of Integrated Digital Marketing

Integrate or perish! Traditional agencies have been selling the value of integrating advertising campaigns for the past 30 years. Companies have embraced the idea and are now launching marketing campaigns that run simultaneously or consecutively on television, web sites, and billboards, and in magazines, ultimately producing a greater impact on consumers and generating better results.

Although the concept is far from being new to savvy advertisers, the ability to deliver on the promise of true integration is the result of the unmatched capabilities offered by new digital media and database technology. Let’s review how successful advertisers can fully leverage the promise of integrated digital marketing.

The Different Facets of Integration

The word “integration” comes from the Latin “integratus,” which means to “form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole; to incorporate into a larger unit.”

Integration can range from adding a URL at the bottom of a print ad to having a common creative message on your home page and in banner ads to the sophisticated delivery of sequenced messaging on multiple digital media vehicles. The proliferation of CRM applications, data warehouses, and digital devices is enabling companies to better communicate with a large number of customers across multiple digital touch points. Why are advertisers so concerned about the integration of their messaging?

Advertising Overload Leads to Relationship Pitfalls

With online advertising expected to move to more than five percent of total expenditures over the next few years, consumers will find themselves increasingly bombarded by marketing messages on a variety of digital media. A Jupiter report predicts that the average consumer can expect to receive more than 950 commercial messages per day. It is reasonable to assume that addressing this problem will only become more difficult as the volume of on- and offline advertising continues to climb significantly in the next few years.

Consumers will continue to be overwhelmed by messages from companies eager to maximize the value of their customer databases and willing to do so at all costs. Consumers will eventually tune out your message or unsubscribe to your distribution list in a single click. Suddenly, the discipline of managing customer communications across media turns into the skilled art of avoiding relationship pitfalls.

The DNA of Integrated Digital Marketing

To get customers’ attention, messages must rise well above the noise. Avoid the customer-relationship pitfalls by targeting customers effectively with timely and relevant marketing. This objective can best be achieved by the DNA of integrated digital marketing: data, insight, and action. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1

  • Integration of data offers a comprehensive customer view. Managing customer data on one platform allows companies to have a single system in which insight and action become one. Advertisers that use separate services to deliver banner ads, run affiliate programs, or send email messages create “information islands” that offer a limited view of the customer. For organizations to get a single view of the customer and speak to the customer with one voice — reflecting a complete knowledge of all in- and outbound events, off- and online communications, and transactions related to that customer — advertisers need to collect, organize, and manage all data elements at the customer level.

    To do this, unique data sets, such as an email address, a cookie ID, or even a wireless ID, and demographics and/or transactions must be linked. Most of these data elements are considered personally identifiable information (PII), and advertisers need to follow strict privacy guidelines, such as providing consumers with notice and consent. Any data element that is considered to be anonymous (for example, cookie data) can be linked to PII data as long as privacy guidelines are being followed religiously. The result: a comprehensive view of customer data and the foundation required to manage a consistent customer dialogue across digital media.

  • Integration of insight allows deeper customer understanding. It tracks marketing’s impact on the customer and enables an analysis of the customer’s performance across every touch point.

    Advertisers want to combine results data with marketing costs to present a campaign’s total return on investment. Without integration, there is no consistency because each system or medium uses its own methods for tracking. Information analyzed across media can help advertisers identify the actual cost of acquiring and retaining customers.

    Let’s assume that a brand retailer uses online advertising to generate interest about its products and collects names and email addresses. The cost per member signed up can be easily added to the various delivery costs associated with a series of email follow-up messages and wireless promotions (until a purchase is made) to estimate the overall acquisition cost of a particular customer segment. Detailed customer information lets a retailer predict what products a customer is likely to buy and when and through what medium the customer will buy them.

    Data-mining techniques help extract customer knowledge buried in the wealth of data compiled across so many consumer touch points. Over time, this integrated insight helps you build more targeted and effective advertising campaigns designed to attract the most valuable customers.

  • Integration of action enables smarter dialogue management throughout the customer life cycle. Multiple marketing tactics are usually necessary to reach consumers with appropriate messages. The objective is to build interest and loyalty by enabling customers to experience the brand across lots of different media at all times.

    The integration of digital media allows us to speak to customers with a single voice — regardless of the medium in which the message is delivered. It also provides additional benefits, such as reduced media rates and ease of one-stop shopping. Integration of data and insight allows you to reach customers more dynamically based on their behavior. Here are some of the most common applications:

    1. Advertising follow-ups: By sending a follow-up email message to individuals who viewed or responded to a specific offer in a banner ad (or even to those who did not), advertisers greatly increase the effectiveness of their communication.

    2. Cross-media learning: As an individual gets exposed to online ads and wireless offers, data is captured about what offers are working best. Subsequent offers (regardless of the medium) are targeted based on successful prior interactions and balanced across media to maximize contact value.

    3. Interest targeting: Opt-in consumers navigate specific areas within a site. An advertiser can develop a list of such consumers (including those who have abandoned their shopping carts) and send email messages featuring products or content relating to these specific areas of the site.

    4. Behavioral targeting: Individuals that click on a particular offer (for example, a DVD offer) leave a footprint that can be used to target these individuals in other media. Advertisers can send subsequent offers based on successful prior interactions (for example, featuring DVDs more prominently in future email messages).
  • It’s about improving the quality and effectiveness of communication. Advertisers face the traditional customer-relationship problems created by inconsistent communications across digital and offline media, inaccurate timing of messages, and intrusive and incorrect frequency of communications. Without the ability to integrate the content, timing, and delivery of an online marketing campaign, companies find themselves relying on less-than-accurate tools to optimize the flow of information sent to consumers and risk damaging those precious relationships. Simply ask yourself how often you are served banner ads that ask you to sign up for a service you joined a few months ago. You know how annoying this can be.

These days advertisers love to talk about integrated marketing, yet few actually synchronize their online efforts. This is going to change radically. As marketers attempt to reach consumers through all digital media, including web sites, email, cell phones, PDAs, and digital television boxes, the pressure to integrate data, media, and marketing strategies will likely increase, driven by the desire to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of consumer communication.

A recent study by Jupiter shows that in the next year, 89 percent of marketing executives plan to step up cross-media integration efforts, which involve everything from running consistent ad creative to tracking performance and generating sales across all media. It doesn’t matter how many marketing dollars you spend or where you spend them. Advertisers can’t afford to miss out on the media synergies and targeting efficiencies of digital marketing integration.

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