Integrated Marketing: A Winning Agency Perspective

A night time cityscape of New York City's lights and traffic
A screencap of the dictionary definition of the word, "integrated." Defined as, "with various parts or aspects linked or coordinated."

We’ve watched the integrated marketing agency space evolve from essentially non-existent years ago to all the rage today.  As a judge in the European and UK Search Awards for 5+ years, I’ve seen case studies move from single-channel silos to almost universally integrated programs cutting across multiple disciplines, models, datasets, and channels. Also, our agency has won a Best Integrated Agency US Search Award for three years straight. Being an integrated agency before integrated was sexy brings perspective to help define outcome-based best practices.

Integrated marketing is one of those buzzy phrases, like big data and persona, meaning whatever someone says it means.  Let’s start with the meaning of the word integrated itself and plug in the word marketing.

(Via Google) “With various parts or aspects [of marketing] linked or coordinated, unified, united, consolidated, amalgamated, joined, combined, merged, fused, blended, meshed, coherent, homogeneous, homogenized, mutually dependent, assimilated, cohesive”

(Via Cambridge Dictionary) “To integrate [marketing]  is also to combine two or more things to make something more effective”

Easy to understand, right? Here’s some of what being an integrated marketing agency means to us, getting down into some geeky weeds.

Integrated Marketing: A Definition

Integrated marketing means that we operate an overall marketing system and remain channel agnostic. We introduce new users to the marketing system by the most focused, intent-based targeting in whatever channel it’s available, and continue working those audience segments.

We mine, maintain, and utilize first party audience lists on our website domain and any platforms in which we can build first party lists from engagement, i.e. Google remarketing lists for site traffic, YouTube and Facebook engagements lists, etc. The result is that we manage segmented audience journey data and shepherd users, wherever they are in the process, wherever they are.

The integrated agency is fluent from best practices to the more evolutionary at paid and organic, search and social, psychographic, programmatic, PR, and branding. They’re not a PPC agency, SEO shop or PR firm. Regardless of targeting and multi-channel distribution tactics, EVERY INVESTMENT must demonstrate a role in driving revenue along a pathway to purchase, the buyer journey. Regardless of a user’s point of entry into the marketing system, we curate and manage audience segments all the way.

Once a user has entered the marketing system, if they’ve not converted and/or taken the next action, we continue to operate on those users in both search (RLSA) and social (social & display retargeting).  We saturate audiences with brand messages to prove brand effect on the performance marketing stack.

Best practices means using channels for what they’re good for, not conventional wisdom, and usages change per channel over time. We undertake alternative thinking about channel stengths.

For instance, Twitter to us is often a video display channel, a television station, because of available third party data partnership data, which includes some intent-psychographics targeting (audience are going to buy xy)—not just a social engagement place.

Creative integration is crucial. We don’t just make ads or create content or random videos.  Rather, we carefully script creative pathways to purchase with sequential messages tendered in steps throughout the channels—content, video, ads, landing experiences, apps, platform functionality, and engagement, etc.  Integrated marketers don’t need to get ads approved. They’ve got creative success data line by line already.

A truly integrated marketer advises content creation by the psychographic segmentation of success traffic (like thank you page touches and customer email lists.) We lace all creative with branding and high performing search keywords. For example, Facebook retargeting will display a conversion keyword on the image or video, with other conversion semantics in the post update.

Integrated marketers take attribution to a nearly cosmic level to justify investment in brand. In fact, brand turns out to be an essential tool in the integrated marketing belt. More about that upcoming.

Top of Funnel Targeting and Retargeting/Remarketing

In an integrated marketing agency, channels (for distribution and sometimes for socialization) are either entry-to-marketing-system (top of funnel), retargeting/remarketing, or both.  

Interestingly, audience website traffic from any source channel can be retooled as top of funnel via lookalike audiences (LAL). In a world where the purpose of websites can seem iffy, a cookie and pixel clearing house for organizing audience data is one of the best reasons to have a website.

Targeting Channels and Retargeting Channels

6 Marketing Integration Realities

  1. An ample percentage of successful marketing outcomes integrated search and social channels. There are numerous tactics which meld search and social media marketing tactics. In case study after case study, these are the projects that win.
  2. The last mile of the CPA / scale pivot is often via integration. In a never ending struggle to lower the cost per action and raise the count of new sales, channels working together are usually what’s required to lower or maintain the CPA.
  3. Data management may be the main audience targeting. Recently we’ve seen and tendered case studies with little or no new audience targeting. Rather, we’ve capitalized on highly segmented retargeting and top of funnel list targeting.  
  4. Go deeper into long business goals to prove integration. It’s no longer enough to measure shallow sales. These days integrated marketers look deeper into the case study to prove value. For instance, automating optimizations based on gateway (first sale) products which portend next purchases with high lifetime values. There are dozens of other methods to do deeper.
  5. Score low hanging revenue for best practices. In coming blog posts we’ll write more about specific integrated tactics which usually work.  Suffice it to say the tactics we use most often, most often work.
  6. Branding is required for the ultimate integration: Brand and PR are often required in the cost of scaling a marketing system. Some businesses think that costs go down as a marketing system gets larger. The don’t in many case studies because the low-cost easiest audiences have already made their purchases. Getting more conversion minded customers to search by brand keywords tends to increase scale without raising, and/or even lowering, the cost of a marketing system.

Sure, integrated marketing is a rather buzzy word. However, integrating your marketing is one of the most powerful moves to make.  We’ve known for years that marketing doesn’t exist well in silos. Integrated marketing connects the dots and builds success in coherence.

Want to see what integrated marketing could do for your business? Let’s talk!

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