Lead a Horse To Water: The State of Integration

heartlightThe Distinguished SearchEngineStrategies Chicago “Orion panel” chose to tackle one of the big questions at the top of almost every serious advertiser’s list. “What is the best way to approach “Integrated” marketing strategies in the current economic environments and beyond?”

Today’s moderator was Kevin Ryan, SES Advisory Board Chair & CEO Motivity Marketing. The panel wasted no time by jumping into the fray and asking hard questions. “Is integration really happening?” and  “How do marketers go beyond the pitch and to the reality of what that means in today’s environment?”

The Panel consisted of Andrew Goodman Principal, Page Zero Media
Robert Murray, President, IProspect
Aaron Goldman VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, Resolution Media
Josh Todd, Director of Aquisition Marketing, Constant Contact
Gregg Stewart, Senior Vice President, Interactive, TMP Directional Marketing

According to the panel. 80% of businesses today don’t understand what constitutes integration. Marketing agencies and interactive media representatives face a steep client learning curve in preparing businesses for not only the discussion but the execution of integrated marketing campaigns. This is in light of the fact that only 5% of retail conversions happen online , which means 95% of product and service purchases still happen in a bricks and mortar scenario. While search has experienced much growth, it is not a stand alone and thus can be greatly enhanced with integrated techniques.

On the surface it’s simple.  Integration means, how do you glue the offline world to the online world.  How do you turn advertising into cash when people get in way.  Traditional Media metrics still hold sway over and frame client expectations.

At the present time the comparison is not apples to apples. Traditional Media platforms lack the trackability and analytics of Search Platforms, which makes it almost impossible to confirm conversion as  relates to ROI. Of course this is ultimately required to validate the approach to spending across multiple advertising platforms. Managing client expectations is key.

“You have Search clients and you have Traditional media clients. Integration has yet to take a firm hold. There are few “Tweaners”.”

Being a cable television executive, a few interesting comments really struck a chord with me. Robert Murry pointed out that (according to his research) “only 55% of businesses with a primary search campaign strategy actually coordinate their campaigns with offline marketing strategies, even though 2/3 of consumers polled claim they were driven to an online search from an offline marketing message (resulting in a 39% conversion/purchase rate).” The driving factors of why clients resist integration vary from budget constraints to resources to “just not considering it”.

Consistent messaging across all platforms, utilized during a campaign, is key. 24% of Clients who did utilize multi-platform support integrated their online keyword strategy through offline creative and so created consistent and cohesive messaging. Josh Todd specifically pointed out the need to Integrate through creative cycles. ROBO (Research Online Buy Offline ) is fast becoming an established consumer trait.

Aaron Goldman made an excellent point about how clients need to first own one underlying platform and then move into the process of integrated strategies. He also touched on the need to have everyone on the same page.  As he put it, ” Incent your agencies towards a common goal.”

It is a “team game” so Integrate search research – use it to target offline media, share online keywords and messaging with offline people. There is no room for being territorial. Client centered strategies are selfless.

All panelists agreed that “True integration is driven by relationships with the client”. The client has to be committed long term and it is imperative that the Media reps are prepared to justify and quantify results (or lack thereof).

“Patience is key. Education is critical. Post search activity and follow up is vital to staying on top of the game and adjusting strategy. Integrated data will be imperfect until the traditional media platforms are more trackable, in the same manner as search.”

This was a solid session with good information, presented by savvy search marketers.  Speaking for my cable industry associates, next year we’ll be pitching SearchEngineStrategies Chicago from the traditional media side, to add perspective to the discussion. Let’s work together in the halls of our industrys’ respective conferences 🙂 .

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