Companies competing in the current digital age face a challenge of ever expanding proportions. A continuously developing skill set is required to master the evolving technologies that harness contemporary marketing muscle. Companies need access, either internally or externally, to capabilities in ecommerce, social media, conversion rate optimisation techniques to name but a few. However, while each component of the marketing strategy is important, there is much to be lost if these components aren’t working together. Without a joined up marketing strategy, a powerful armoury of contemporary marketing weapons can quickly implode.
Joined up marketing happens when all the different ways in which people interact with your brand give a consistent message. It’s the same as an orchestra being in tune. A beautiful sound is be achieved by the whole array of instruments playing harmoniously; something that happens only by great attention to detail in precision timing, fine tuning and so forth. The very smallest of errors can instantly ruin the whole effect.
In marketing terms, a similar scenario can be envisioned when a company has driven customers to their website via exciting headlines, only for the customer to find the site still promoting a Christmas discount when it’s already February. Not only has precious spend on getting the customer to the site or point-of-sale been wasted, but the customer has been left with the impression that the company is careless and in effect, wasting the former’s time.
Achieving joined up marketing can be a complicated process, especially across multiple departments, products and target markets. Think of the complexity of task when conducting a full orchestra versus only a string quartet. Most companies that turn over between GBP 1 – 10 million don’t have an in-house team to properly manage their marketing across all mediums and so an external provider can prove the most profitable way forward. Although buying in the digital marketing equivalent of the music script and the conductor may seem like a luxury you can’t afford right now, compare that to the cost of losing multiple customers through mixed messages and inconsistent branding.
Joined Up Marketing Considerations
Who is going to buy tickets to a concert with a dreadful sound? The key lies in thinking like the consumer. Firstly, it is important to consider each different route-to-market or channel; each is a path along which the customer must be led to the point of sale by a logical chain of information and message. What is it that has attracted the customer to the website in the first place and how is this interest translated into a sale? Whether it is a specific offer or product, or a more subtle message, like the feel of the brand or the culture of the company, the chances of closing a sale are much greater if the emotional resonance is kept up through repeatedly emphasising the brand and its benefits or, indeed, the specifics of the product itself.
Although obvious in theory, this simple concept is one of the more frequently ignored rules of joined up marketing. Consider a customer who clicks on a GoogleAd or an items-in-basket prompt e.g. on Facebook, only to be taken to the company’s homepage rather than the specific product or offer page.
Next, there must be consistency across pathways or instruments, so whether the customer travels along one single channel, or flits across a number of different channels to the point-of-sale, the same message needs to be heard. The overall effect is a 3D lattice, like the atomic structure of diamond, where a customer can move smoothly between the pathways of each individual medium and retain the same motivation and interest.
If we consider a customer who initially interacts with a brand via a Google search and then browses through a site, but does not purchase anything at that time. Having been attracted by some aspect of his visit, he then notices adverts on Facebook and remembers that he liked what he saw on the website and is motivated to investigate further, possibly registering on the site this time for updates on offers. Finally, after receiving a cleverly timed marketing email, the customer returns to the site and makes a purchase of the special offer which has been highlighted to him.
It can easily take three or more interactions with a brand to convince or motivate a customer into a sale, but consider how vulnerable his interest may be during this time. He was clearly motivated by some aspect of the search, but it may not have initially been a brand or product-specific interest and he could have easily been lost to a more switched-on competitor, had the brand not been promoted in such a way as to build on the previous interactions. It’s almost the digital equivalent of the triangulation method used by police to track criminals, where a brand will only become definitively registered in the customer’s brain if it has three different approaches with which to orientate itself.
The solidity of your 3D marketing lattice is achieved by creating a digital marketing strategy. This will define a common objective to facilitate all the different aspects and components being driven in the same direction. This strategy needs to define target markets and channels. Practically, most companies’ joined up marketing strategy will develop over time as they build in new markets and media, especially since digital media in a high state of growth and development generally. The important point is that the fundamental concept can be moulded and shaped to each new medium or market as it arises, while being able to retain the direction and feel of the strategy. This is a very different challenge to a marketing strategy for a traditional set of media, since some of the technologies in which your strategy will need to remain current may well not have even been invented yet.
A very important part of the process is to continuously measure and analyse the effects of your digital marketing strategy. This is one of the most significant benefits of the digital, as opposed to the traditional, marketing arena. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is such analysis and will be key in adapting the different components over time and as you gain experience. Wouldn’t you rather it is your testing mechanism that comes across any inconsistencies rather than the potential new customer in whom you have invested so much to attract?
While the idea of joined up marketing has unavoidably been expanded to incorporate the rapidly changing nature of digital marketing media, the concept itself remains firmly fixed. Your customer wants to be confident that they know what they are getting and that you are on top of it; they want reassured that they have made the right choice of provider and that they will take delivery of what they wish to consume; in short, they want to be able to trust you. It is a lot of work, but when you get your joined up marketing flowing smoothly, like their favourite tune on Apple music, your customers will come back and play again and again.