How to Update Your Integrated Media Strategies and Tactics

Thomas Moyer, iCrossing
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Key Takeaways

​What? Marketers often say they want to keep up with the changing marketing landscape, but many companies may not be nimble enough to change.

So what? To keep up with change, brands must present themselves in a way that drives success.

Now what? Marketers should start with easy steps to lay the groundwork for long-term improvements that will keep the brand ahead of the curve.

Oct. 10, 2017

Do you really know how to fix antiquated integrated marketing strategies?

Take a moment to really think about all the options a marketer must consider today compared to what was available a decade ago. To take that further, how many best practices, industry benchmarks and overall consumer/business behaviors have changed in that time frame? 

While some of these have been incremental changes over time, others are a bit more drastic. These long- and short-term changes require brands to address and adapt to how they present themselves in the marketplace and drive success. The world has become far more digital, mobile and connected than ever before with an appetite for innovations (e.g., artificial intelligence, augmented reality, industry-disrupting apps, etc.).

Most marketers might find the above statement obvious, but some of those same people may be working in companies that are not nimble enough to allow that change. They are unable to point to specific items within their marketing operations to change, or they lack the experience to address the issue. Whatever the case, identifying specific opportunities to prioritize within your company/team is the first step in getting these changes across the finish line.

While not every idea is feasible, economical or a current priority for an organization, a short list of low-hanging fruit might be a good place to start to set the ground work for long-term improvements. To hone in on the most topical, here are four areas that should be addressed:

1. Make Sure Your KPIs Ladder Up to Your Overall Strategy

Success metrics should always ladder up to your overall objectives and strategy of a brand (e.g., awareness vs. direct response). Think about whether the metrics being used to judge success are actually serving as a valid proxy for business goals.

As an example, for brands with products that have a long sales cycles (e.g., SaaS products, auto or financial products) and/or have an offline sales transaction, it may not be possible to get a direct purchase from a paid advertisement. As such, marketers will look at other ways to drive the consumer down the sales funnel, such as getting them to engage with a rich media banner, download content as a lead or overall brand lift through a study (e.g., Millward Brown).

A marketer might have estimated how many real sales are expected based on the historical lead-to-sale conversion rate and will later validate this when the final sales figures come in.  Conversely, if a brand sells its products through intermediaries (e.g., quick-service restaurants or auto), a marketer may have to focus on more “awareness/consideration” KPIs such as reach, frequency or aided awareness that may be a bit trickier to correlate back to the sale of a hamburger or a new car. That means brands should think about whether a rich media engagement or social click are truly driving increased sales or not.

Too often there are legacy metrics being used with little rationale, or a brand will simply expect certain tactics to drive branding, consideration and direct response metrics at the same time with a single placement. The most common explanation I have heard has been something to the degree of, “That’s just what we have always done.” While the marketer may be correct in their marketing approach, it is important to have a dialogue and unified approach that everyone buys into and is working toward.

2. Find a Balance Between Traditional and Digital Strategies

Too frequently marketing tactics or framework decisions get pushed through with the intention of standardization to streamline a marketer’s media activities or have marketing “sizzle” that a stakeholder can use as an ego boost for the brand. As an example, many brands/agencies look to a separate department to handle specific marketing channels—social, programmatic display, SEM, etc.—while others look at consolidating into one cross-functional team, usually based on team size and resources. While either may be appropriate for an individual client or agency, they should not be a blanket approach.

The pros and cons to the examples above will be different for many organizations, even those in similar industries. While it might be easy to say that everything should go programmatic, for example, a client targeting niche audiences will find that some of the most important sites will not have a programmatic option. I found from working across different verticals that programmatic buying can be a top performer in most industries, but does not always drive consideration as much as an endemic newsletter that is subscribed to and read daily.

On the flipside, there are some very traditional marketers that focus on the same offline tactics they have been running for decades and have not pivoted to digital channels as their consumers have. As such, simply adding SEM/SEO, social and/or programmatic media will increase performance, offer more transparency into their media, provide digital accountability of performance and give them the ability to optimize their media much faster.

At the end of the day, understanding a brand’s goals, strategy, organizational structure, risk tolerance and historical data will be paramount to informing future success.

3. Always Be Learning

There are a lot of innovations available for marketers. While not all of them are useful to a brand’s business today, they might impact the business in the not-too-distant future. As such, meeting with vendors, attending webinars and going to events may give you the added edge in what is to come. As an example, I have heard a lot of buzz recently about the inclusion of blockchain technology. While its inclusion is still in the ideation phase, a marketer needs to pay attention to it as it has the potential to change the way companies do business. Another relatively new update is the growth of social ad verification as an extension of the existing display services currently offered and how that might affect your buys on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

If a marketer wants to prioritize this kind of proactive approach to new technologies, think about carving out time for your team to not only attend presentations, pitches and conferences, but have a system for sharing that knowledge across the organization beyond a one-off e-mail or data dump somewhere, especially if a team member feels passionately or has a strong point of view about the potential long- or short-term impact to the business. This kind of approach will help marketers prepare for and mitigate any knee-jerk reactions when an innovation comes to fruition.

4. Speak With Your Consumer, Not at Them

Time after time, I run into banners, search copy, social copy and native content from advertisers that are irrelevant, have no clear call to action, are too busy, too boring and/or targeted incorrectly. This ultimately translates to wasted money. Issues like this can arise from a few places, including:

  • A creative team bound by strict guidelines.

  • Trying to put all the key selling points into one ad, resulting in something that is too dense.

  • Trying to be too creative or disruptive in a way that doesn’t align with your brand.

  • Advertising on the wrong channels for the target audience.

  • Not using a content development team that knows the product.

  • Using irrelevant spokespeople or influencers that don’t fit the industry, brand or audience.

From a placement standpoint, make sure to research if the creative used makes sense where it's placed and aligns with the brand. I have seen some glorified digital ads repurposed as print placements and generic ads on community sites that will turn off that community. If there is a desire to run something on the cover of The Wall Street Journal, a social community like Reddit/Imgur, an out-of-home billboard or even paid search copy, it is important to understand the medium and placement and ensure your creative makes sense.

Pushing out content for content’s sake isn’t a sound plan. Think of the individual consumer and how they would most want to engage with your brand. In the words of San Francisco’s advertising icon Howard Gossage (born 100 years ago this year), "I don't know how to speak to everybody, only to somebody."

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Author Bio:

Thomas Moyer, iCrossing
Thomas Moyer is associate media director at digital marketing agency iCrossing and a part-time instructor of digital marketing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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