A Complete Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (with Examples)
Marketers today face the challenge of information overload: with dozens of different channels to choose from and new forms of digital marketing emerging all the time, it can be tricky to cut through the clutter to directly reach an audience.
Consumers, too, have endless branded ads to sift through day after day. That makes reaching and engaging them more involved than simply creating a website and social media accounts and waiting for customers to find them. If you’re restricted by a budget, this becomes even more challenging.
That’s where integrated marketing comes in. With integrated marketing communications (IMC), brands can relay their messages across various channels in a way that’s engaging, consistent, and doesn’t break the budget. Let’s take a closer look at what it means, how you can create your own integrated marketing strategy and some examples of how other brands have done it right.
What is integrated marketing?
Integrated marketing is a strategic approach for delivering a unified message across all channels, ensuring a seamless experience for customers to interact with your company. Instead of focusing on different products or aspects of your brand on each platform, you’re presenting your brand in a similar way in advertising, social media marketing, direct marketing, and PR. The intention is to create a unified front that promotes awareness and familiarity with a company and its products.
Imagine seeing a branded post on Instagram for a new product, and then going to their website to learn more about the product and make a purchase, but the messaging, tone, and visuals are entirely different. If you run into that as a customer, you’d likely be confused with the lack of cohesion. Integrated marketing coordinates your marketing efforts so that you generate more leads and customers have an easier time understanding your brand’s intended message.
Benefits of integrated marketing techniques
Using an integrated marketing approach is effective in more ways than one, as there are significant advantages to unifying your brand messaging on all channels as opposed to running entirely unique campaigns on each one.
When searching for new marketing strategies, the first question you’re likely to run into is whether it is effective and affordable. Integrated marketing is actually likely to be more cost-effective since you’re creating content that can be used for multiple purposes across several platforms. Not only that, but some integrated marketing campaigns rely on user-generated content, which can also help drive your costs down while increasing efficiency and engagement.
Builds brand relationships
A key purpose of integrated marketing is to form a relationship with the customer. This approach helps promote awareness and trust by being reliable in the messaging you deliver across all your channels. Your audience will slowly start to recognize your brand wherever it appears, and by being consistent with your brand experience, they’ll also grow to trust your messaging.
As consumers, we like things that fit together nicely. By running multiple unrelated campaigns simultaneously on your different channels, you’re presented with a disjointed picture of your brand. Consumers are already exposed to endless information every day, so instead of throwing another five different campaigns at them, present them with one that spans across the board to ensure you don’t overwhelm their attention span.
How to develop a winning integrated marketing strategy
It’s important that you develop a strategy before implementing integrated marketing for your brand. You’ll need to plan out certain aspects in advance, such as getting to know your audience and choosing which marketing channels to focus on. Here’s how you can get started in five actionable steps.
Pin down your campaign goal
Get to know your target audience
Define your brand’s unique selling proposition
Outline your marketing communication methods
Set and analyze metrics
01. Pin down your campaign goal
You probably have a reason for seeking out a new marketing strategy right now. Maybe you’re launching a new product, rebranding, or trying to reach a new audience. Whatever your reasoning is, you’ll need to set your goal in order to be able to build an efficient integrated marketing strategy.
Said reason will point you towards your goal. For example, if you have a new product, your goal might be to make consumers more aware and drive conversions. Knowing what you want as your end result will help you build your integrated marketing communications more effectively and help guide each decision throughout the campaign creation process.
02. Get to know your target audience
For a strategy based on communication and building a relationship with your audience, getting to know them first is imperative. A good place to start is to build a buyer persona that, together with your campaign goal, will steer you in the right direction. To do so, begin by answering some of these questions:
Who is in the target demographic? (Be specific, look at data like gender, age, location, and interests)
What’s important to my target audience?
What is the problem they are looking to solve?
Which platforms do they use the most?
How do these people prefer to communicate with the brand?
Depending on the goal of your integrated marketing campaign, you might want to tweak your buyer persona to be unique to each channel or create separate ones entirely. This will allow you to narrow down your target audience even further.
03. Define your brand’s unique selling proposition
Your unique selling position is what sets your business apart from the competition. When it comes to developing your marketing integration strategy, learning where your brand stands in the market will allow you to pinpoint unique areas to focus your campaign.
Since you probably won’t be the only brand using an integrated marketing strategy in your industry, centering your campaign around areas where your brand shines most instead of giving your audience more of the same is a great way to ensure its success.
04. Outline your marketing communication methods
Your marketing communication method dictates how and where you’re distributing your campaign. A common mistake is to start by choosing which channels to focus on before dealing with any other part of this plan. However, choosing where to focus your attention before understanding why or learning about your audience can lead to a waste of time and resources.
There are a few elements that go into this stage of your marketing plan:
Decide how you want to communicate. Do you plan on sending email marketing messages, focus on content like blog posts and videos or launch a social media campaign? You can choose more than one way, but just be sure the communication platform makes sense for both your audience and your goal.
Pick a fitting tone. Regardless of what platform you choose to relay your campaign, choose a tone that matches your target audience. This doesn’t only refer to the vocabulary you’ll use in your ads, but also the type of content that you put into your campaign. For example, you can promote a new product in a short and casual video or in a formal ebook full of industry jargon, but they probably won’t have the same effect.
Choose your channel. Once you have a better idea of what your message is and how you want it to come across, it’s time to choose where you’ll release it. You might want to use market segmentation across multiple channels. Look to competitors in your industry to see where they’ve had success engaging with clients and consider what’s worked for you in previous campaigns.
05. Set and analyze metrics
The goals you set initially will help determine the metrics you follow throughout your campaign. For example, you might look at social media brand mentions, website conversion rate, or an increase in engagement.
When using multiple channels, you should analyze the results from each separately to gain an accurate picture of how your campaign is performing on different platforms. The metrics for each platform might be different as well, so you’ll likely need to set multiple KPIs to accurately measure the results of your integrated marketing communications.
This step doesn’t only need to be done after your campaign is released, but can be tracked throughout in order to test different messaging and determine areas for improvement. Analyzing your campaign’s results will not only help you strengthen its performance, but also teach you how to optimize similar ones in the future.
5 successful integrated marketing campaigns
Geico - The Gecko
Geico used a common mispronunciation of its brand’s name and ran with it, using an anthropomorphic gecko in its ads. This is a good example of how to get creative with integrated marketing.
Geico did more than just using the same tone or aesthetic, it created a mascot that relayed the brand’s story and message, all while using humor to draw people in. The campaign paid off, and resulted in a sales boom for Geico between 2002-2007, rendering it the fastest-growing auto insurance brand.
GoPro - Be a Hero Campaign
In order to advertise its durable action Hero cameras, GoPro launched the ‘Be a Hero’ campaign that turned its users into brand ambassadors. People submitted user-generated content like footage of themselves using their cameras doing everything from extreme sports to everyday things, like swimming in a pool.
GoPro used the “Be a Hero” messaging across multiple channels: in TV ads, on billboards, social media, and in digital communications. The campaign resonated with so many since it evoked the idea that with a GoPro camera, anyone could be a hero, an idea that helped the brand reach a whole new audience.
Domino’s - AnyWare Campaign
To draw attention to how easy it is to order a pizza from Domino’s, the company launched its ‘AnyWare’ campaign, which allowed customers to order via text, tweet, and even on smart devices like watches, TVs, and voice-activated AI devices like Alexa. In order to do this, customers had to set up a pizza preference profile online to ease quick ordering.
Domino’s used integrated marketing to push this campaign on social media, TV ads, and press releases with the goal of driving traffic to its website to learn more about quick ordering. The pizza giant set a goal of having half of all its orders placed digitally, which it readily achieved through this campaign.
Dove - Campaign for Real Beauty
What started as a study on how women and society perceive female beauty ended up as a global campaign that helped redefine a brand. Dove began by releasing billboard ads asking people to text in a vote whether the women portrayed in the ads were beautiful or not. This extended into similar marketing messages on viral videos, TV commercials, print ads, and social media.
Dove went from a simple soap company to a brand that became synonymous with body positivity, making it a great example of how to use integrated marketing to rebrand. With this one campaign, Dove managed not only to spark a conversation and repurpose its brand but also increased its sales from $2.5 billion to $4 billion in the 10 years following its release.
OldSpice - Smell Like a Man
Another example of a company rebranding itself, Old Spice’s original The Man Your Man Could Smell Like commercial gained so much momentum that the brand launched it into an entire campaign. The 30-second TV ad was being shared so much on social media that Old Spice decided to run with it by creating more similar ads along with interactive videos on social media.
The company also rebranded its website, product packaging, voice, and messaging to reflect this new campaign that resonated so strongly with its audience. This resulted in millions of online video views, increased engagement, and doubling sales less than a year after the campaign launched.
By The Wix Team