20 years ago, marketers had only a handful of channels at their disposal for reaching audiences. Now there are numerous channels available, and audiences are scattered across all of them.
That means that capitalizing on one medium – whether it be print, or TV, or direct mail - won’t be effective any more.
The best marketers are those who can build integrated marketing campaigns.
While this may sound like a hefty operation, it’s a lot simpler and more intuitive than it sounds. All integrated marketing means is focusing on a single goal, finding out which channels your audience is using, and deploying creative that is tailored to each of those channels – while all maintaining the focus on the central goal of the campaign.
It means sending an email while also posting on Facebook. It means running a direct mail campaign while also investing in targeted programmatic ads for those same addresses. It means investing in YouTube content while posting similar content to your website.
Building an integrated marketing campaign may be something that’s new to you as an agri-marketer. If so, here are some tips we’ve found to make you integrated marketing campaigns effective and successful:
- Focus on a single objective for each campaign.
- Tie your content offer to that objective.
- Get inside your personas’ heads
- Identify the best channels for your personas (based on data)
- Develop a consistent ad theme
- Customize your creative
- Coordinate your deployments
- Don’t “set it and forget it”
Take a look at the eight tips you should heed when building an integrated marketing campaign.
1. Focus on a single objective for each campaign
The key to building a marketing campaign that’s truly integrated is focus. You have to focus your campaign on a specific objective that provides the anchor that grounds all your various creative and channels.
As far as choosing what that objective actually is, that’s up to you. It depends entirely on your company’s needs and what kind of engagement you want to drive.
Here are a few general categories of objectives that work for integrated marketing campaigns:
- Brand Awareness. While it’s hard to quantify the success of this kind of campaign, building an awareness of your company’s brand is crucial to customer loyalty and your ability to bring in new inbound customers. Think about John Deere – their brand is known by nearly every American, not just those in the ag space. They’ve built a brand that conveys trust and effectiveness in getting the job done. That’s an asset that takes a long time to build, but pays dividends in the long-term.
- Lead Generation. While the term “lead generation” is often used mostly in B2B companies, it’s a practice that can be helpful among agribusinesses was well. Farmers exhibit the behaviors of both consumers and companies, so it’s important to bring the best of B2B and B2C marketing together when reaching them. Specifically, your biggest sales aren’t going to happen through a direct online eCommerce purchase, but through a relationship built over time.
- eCommerce. Farmers aren’t just business owners, they’re also consumers. So if you’re a B2C company, an eCommerce campaign may work best for you and your needs.
It really doesn’t matter what the objective behind your campaign is, as long as it benefits your business and is consistent throughout. Determining this as a first step will help maintain that consistency.
2. Tie your content offer to your objective
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s so important that we’re going to go ahead and make it. In order to ensure that your integrated marketing campaign is, in fact, integrated, all of your content has to be tied to your objective.
For example, if you’re running a lead gen campaign, don’t create ads that take people to click to a purchase page. Instead, offer some type of content that’s going to solve a problem their having. Here are a few examples of great content:
- Excel tool
On the other hand, if you’re running an eCommerce campaign, you absolutely want to direct your audience to a page where they can easily learn about your product and place an order.
While your integrated marketing campaign has only one objective, you can use many different types of content to reach that objective. For example, you can write a blog post, build an Excel tool and create an infographic all tied around that same objective.
3. Get inside your personas’ heads
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that we’re avid about the role that buyer personas play in successful marketing efforts.
Your buyer personas help you focus your marketing messaging by keeping top of mind the kinds of content, wording and online experience that will engage them. For example, if you’re trying to market to a farmer who manages a large number of acres, then you want to tailor your messaging to challenges of scaling the operation while maintaining precision, rather than increasing acres farmed or meticulously caring for a smaller farm.
As a marketer, it’s important to get inside your personas’ heads so you can predict how they’ll behave when they see and interact with your marketing content.
This is how you’ll bridge the gap between where your potential customers are and where your product or service is.
4. Identify the best channels for that persona (based on data)
Not all marketing channels are creating equal. While the term integrated marketing may imply that you want to maximize the number of channels you use in a given campaign, that’s not the case.
Instead, you want to select the channels used in your campaign based on where that persona is mostly likely to have a positive interaction with your content.
For example, if you have a persona that’s not active on Facebook, then running a Facebook ad campaign is going to be a waste of ad dollars. On the other hand, if you know that they’re regularly checking in and watching videos on major news sites, targeted programmatic pre-roll video will be a better solution for you.
We say at Farm Market iD that you should only use intuition in the absence of data. When it comes to selecting the marketing channels your personas are most likely to interact with, there’s no excuse not to use data.
There are so many data sources available for you that you are always going to be able to make an informed decision.
Here are some that you should consider using:
- Website engagement. This is available through tools like Google Analytics that let you track just about every piece of data you can think of regarding your web visitors.
- Email engagement. If you’re actively engaging in email marketing, then you should be tracking email opens, clicks and conversions from your campaigns. Use this data to determine how likely a given persona is going to interact with email content – and use that to decide whether email is going to be a good channel.
- Social media engagement. It’s pretty easy to track how engaged your buyer personas are on a given channel. Check out some customers you know fit a certain persona – and see what they’re liking and sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. If these contacts are very active on these channels, then you should use them. If not, it’s probably a good idea to avoid them.
- Demographics. If you have access to a good and reliable source of data, then you can use demographics to help understand your personas better. Age, income, and whether they’re the decision-maker or simply an influencer in the farm operation are all important considerations when picking the right channels and messaging to use.
When using data to make these kinds of decisions, make sure the data is objective and fact-based. Avoid surveys, which lead to very subjective results (here are some more details on the weakness of survey data).
And make sure you’re getting current data. Anything more than a couple of years old is obsolete by now.
5. Develop a consistent ad theme
Once you know your objective, personas and the channels you’ll be using, then it’s time to start building your creative.
An integrated campaign only works when it’s integrated. That means that across all channels, personas and verticals, your ads are pointed toward the same objective and use similar messaging.
Why is this so important? It’s because your audience isn’t just going to interact with one ad. The power of integrated marketing comes when you see a variety of ads across multiple channels. You want to make sure that your consistent across all those channels.
Here’s an example. An farmer could be scrolling through their Facebook news feed and see your ad there. They may or may not click.
If not, then when they go to check the weather, they’ll see your targeted display ad for the same campaign on that site. The farmer should be able to easily connect the two ads in their minds, so that, having been warmed up to the ad on Facebook, they’ll take a closer look by clicking on the programmatic ad.
And when they get an email the next day, they should be able to connect that email to the ads they saw.
Get your prospects to connect the dots, because they’re going to have already developed a positive perception in their mind. That means that every step in the process, they’re going to be more willing to let their guard down and listen to what you have to say.
One campaign that I saw work really well was a combination of a brand campaign and a product campaign. I spend a lot of time on YouTube, and I kept getting hit with ads for a marketing company. And I really was impressed by their ads.
So I was getting to know their brand and developing a positive perception of them in my mind.
When I later received a branded email from the same company, I automatically responded positively to it and read the email – even though I delete just about every unsolicited email in my inbox!
This is where the power of integrated marketing starts to take shape: when each channel builds on the others to achieve what no one could have achieved on its own.
6. Customize your creative
While your ads should have a consistent theme, successful marketing is finding the balance between consistency and personalization.
Because of the power that marketing technology gives companies, personalization is pretty much expected from consumers today. So if you’re not at least giving some thought to personalizing your ads, they’re likely to fall flat.
The first best practice is to personalize for each persona. This should be a given. We talked before about how your persona’s preferences should inform how you message your ads. So if you know that two key personas are corn farmers and soy farmers, then create two versions of your ad, one talking about corn and the other talking about soy.
Another important best practice is to use data and technology to personalize for each individual. Big Data opens up the door to more personalization options.
For example, email merge tags let you personalize names, locations and more for each send. Some websites can store cookies so that when visitors return to your site, they receive a different message than the first time they visit.
If you’ve sent an email campaign to a group of prospects, consider uploading the email addresses of those who didn’t open to Facebook as a custom audience, and then post a link to the HTML version of the email in the ad so they can see it through another channel.
A word of caution here: don’t be too creepy. Too much or misplaced personalization is going to put your audience off. This is especially true of farmers who are already a bit skittish about how much of their personal information is out in the open.
Use your better judgement – and your intimate knowledge of your personas – to find the right balance here.
7. Coordinate your deployments
Missteps happen at all stages of the marketing process, including the deployment stage. The worst mistake you can make is when your email and display ad campaigns are misaligned.
For example, you may run a highly targeted ad for five weeks – and then send an email. But by the time you send the email, the prospect is already tired of the ad and puts the email into junk immediately.
Make sure that you time your ads based on what the right cadence for your personas is. Too quickly will overwhelm them, but too slowly means that they’re going to be less likely to respond to each one.
It’s important to coordinate not just based on internal factors, but external ones as well. Personally, I learned this lesson the hard way.
I had set up an automated email campaign to deploy every 30 days for a certain segment of our audience. As luck would have it, the day I set the campaign to begin was exactly 30 days before Christmas Day. You can see where this is going.
So on Christmas Day, I saw, along with a good number of our prospects, that we had deployed a “check out our product” email. Bad move.
Make sure that you’re coordinating your deployments with what’s happening in the world, so it looks like you’re cognizant of more than just your own business.
8. Don’t “set it and forget it”
My Christmas Day mistake reveals another important tip when engaging in integrated marketing efforts. Often when it comes to automated ad campaigns, there’s a tendency to want to “set it and forget it.” Technology makes this very easy to do.
This is a bad idea on several levels.
For starters, some types of ads are going to decay over time. For example, Facebook assigns a relevancy score to ads, and if you run an ad too long without modifying it, it’s going to decreasing the relevancy score, likely to make sure that people aren’t just being hammered with the same content over and over again.
Additionally, you’re going to collect so much data from your ad campaigns that are going to help you optimize ads throughout. If you have an ad that is performing exceptionally well, consider taking some of that creative and using it in your next email deployment.
Or if you find that people click on your ads at a certain time of day, maybe you want to run all your ads at that time to make sure you’re maximizing the success of your ad dollars.
It’s crucial to consistently analyze and optimize throughout the campaign, so you can ensure you’re getting the best results over the course of the entire engagement.
These tips for building an integrated marketing campaign should be able to help you maximize the effectiveness of these channels and, in turn, your ROI on marketing investment.