Is Your Media Campaign Integrated?

For those who missed me at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago this week, I thought I’d address an issue that came up and should interest a good many online marketers: integrating the various components of your interactive marketing efforts. If this isn’t currently top of mind for you and your company, it should be.

Most online marketing campaigns are multifaceted and diverse. They incorporate a number of different ad units, formats, and media. In addition to a site component, whether e-commerce or non-transactional, some more popular efforts include display advertising, email marketing, and paid search.

Some marketers handle all these initiatives in-house, others outsource due to a lack of time or expertise. This is particularly true of such efforts as paid search. Because it requires constant management, paid search is often relegated to a search firm or interactive agency.

Though physically segregating marketing efforts and relying on separate specialists to execute them may seem opportune, it can result in a world of trouble if not effectively managed. It’s not the type of trouble that makes itself immediately apparent. It slowly nibbles away at the effectiveness of your overall campaign without your knowledge.

If each campaign element is independently effective but you’re not meeting your ultimate goal, you may have fallen victim to this sleeping killer. It’s designation? Lack of media integration.

Integrating all campaign aspects might seem logical, but many marketers don’t put this logic into practice. I’ve come across several who’ve confess it sounds like a good idea, but they’d “never really thought about it.” As consumers dedicate more of their media consumption time to the Web, however, considering integration is more critical than ever.

Existing and potential customers formulate an impression of your brand each time they search, browse, visit your site, and receive your email newsletter. What they see affects their opinion of your products and services, as well as the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase. It’s therefore essential to abandon the practice of viewing each aspect of a campaign as an independent entity. This approach makes it too difficult to maintain consistency across all channels, ensure accurate brand messaging, and boost online transactions.

What does an integrated campaign look like? Imagine a company is about to promote the release of a new product line online. Its rich media creative is finalized, and media buys ensure the ultimate in target consumer penetration. Prior to launching, the company updates its brand site with information about the new line. It also updates its existing paid search campaign with keywords related to the new products — the same keywords featured on its site and in its display ads. When it comes time to launch, the company is confident the campaign will perform to the best of its abilities. It’s established a cohesive, fully integrated online marketing campaign.

Let’s say you’re already running a paid search campaign when you decide to offer free shipping for the holidays. Your site reflects the promotion, but do the keywords in your search campaign? Have you updated them to maintain messaging consistency and inform the largest possible volume of buyers of the offer? Though we might think to integrate marketing efforts when we launch new campaigns, updating an existing campaign’s aspects to reflect a change is frequently overlooked, particularly if it’s an aspect not managed by the same marketers as the remainder of your initiatives. It’s an unnecessary shot in the foot. Online advertising is dynamic. Keeping it current and consistent is almost as easy as blindly letting it run its course.

Approaching a search campaign as if it were an independent party is like partially cutting off circulation to a limb. Without the power and energy the rest of the body provides, the limb will never function to its full capacity. Focus on maintaining that body as a whole, and each part will work toward the common goal of propelling you forward.

Working closely with those who manage each campaign element is often all it takes to create a united front. Integrate your vendors and contractors, and you integrate your online marketing efforts.

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