Marketers have more channels than ever to deliver messages to potential customers, but this opportunity also presents a challenge. Communication needs to be cohesive and complementary, not competing.
To start, Gartner recommends working with customer service leaders in your organization to ensure messaging is consistent  and making efforts to unify customer engagement channels . Otherwise, according to Gartner research, half of businesses will have failed to do so by the end of 2022, but you don’t have to be part of that group.
Integrated marketing is a key component to solving this issue for small businesses, and in this guide we’ll discuss what integrated marketing is and how you as a small business marketing professional can use it to create a more consistent experience for customers—no matter where they find your business.
Integrated marketing is a strategy that involves unifying messaging across multiple channels—social media, web, advertising, PR, etc.—to create a consistent experience for customers. This includes achieving a cohesive look, tone, and feel across different channels as well as providing accurate information no matter where a customer comes in contact with your business.
Integrated marketing is similar to omnichannel marketing in that they both aim to create customer-centric experiences, but they go about this in subtly different ways. What differences, you say? Let’s discuss those now.
Integrated marketing and omnichannel marketing are both forms of multichannel marketing with some subtle yet key differences. It’s important to know how these two approaches differ since either one may be more suitable for your small business depending on your level of growth.
For example, if you’re a smaller business that has yet to unify engagement channels, it may be best to start with taking a critical eye to where you're most active and where your target audience spend their time online. Do this with the goal of increasing brand awareness and seeing if your messaging is consistent and accurate on those channels. This includes tone and word choice as well as more concrete elements like brand colors, logos, and details such as address and phone number.
If you already have a strong multichannel approach with solidified messaging, you might want to explore ways to improve the buyer journey in other ways. This could mean cross-selling functionality on your website, email reminders for missed purchase opportunities, or experimenting with experiential marketing that crosses the boundaries of online and in-store.
This example from Home Depot is perfectly illustrative of that crossover between online and a physical store. They recognize the DIY nature of what they do and offer excellent online resources around planning and completing projects as well as interactive virtual workshops.
The hallmark of integrated marketing is a focus on customer communication. Marketers attempt to unify sales ads, social media content, PR, and other forms of customer messaging to provide a consistent and recognizable experience no matter where someone encounters their brand.
The goal is often to tell the brand’s story in a memorable way and elicit a feeling of consistency that leads to increased brand recognition across channels. After all, if you can trust that what you’re seeing from a brand is the real deal, you’re more likely to heed communication from that brand if you encounter them again. Messages like these are usually aimed at both prospective and existing customers.
Omnichannel marketing, however, places the focus on the customer journey. The methods of an omnichannel marketing strategy are similar to that of an integrated approach, but the goal here is to create a seamless experience for customers regardless of the channel they choose.
Omnichannel marketing does include consistent messaging as a main tenet, but rather than focusing on targeting leads and new customers, omnichannel excels at integrating that communication with business objectives like direct sales and repeat conversions.
You might not be surprised to read that industry leaders in marketing are 1.5x more likely to use an integrated technology approach  than their mainstream counterparts. This is because having the tools in place to seamlessly integrate campaigns helps improve performance across channels by offering a more cohesive customer experience, consistent messaging, and increased reach due to the campaign’s presence on a variety of channels.
Customer Experience (CX) refers to customers' thoughts, feelings, and perceptions when interacting with an SMB, its channels, or its products. Examples of CX include how customers develop relationships with organizations or customers signing up for free trials. Through these interactions, customers develop impressions of organizations. A customer's experiences can influence their behavior and purchasing habits:
Positive experiences can boost brand loyalty, improve sales, and increase product awareness among target groups.
Negative experiences can result in bad word-of-mouth, negative PR, and lost revenue.
Deploying campaigns across many channels can be a costly endeavor. Integrated marketing helps reduce these costs by allowing you to reuse assets and messaging in multiple places. This tactic pulls double duty by both ensuring your content is consistent and on brand while also reducing the cost, time, and effort it takes to create that content.
This is especially helpful considering 64% of marketers cite lack of resources  as their main barrier to entry to adopting a more advanced multichannel strategy.
The main benefit—and the entire goal—of integrated marketing is to offer a cohesive and seamless communication process to customers. This goes for both your brand’s story and for things like customer service.
In fact, Gartner recommends  working with customer service leaders in your organization to ensure messaging is consistent for customers when switching among channels, including social networks, chatbots , and contact centers.
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of integrated marketing and some of the key differences when it comes to integrated vs omnichannel marketing, you may be asking yourself which approach is right for your small business.
The answer is that it depends on your goals and your business’s current channel strategy. If you have yet to unify your customer engagement channels  or establish a strong brand story, you will want to focus on those areas first with integrated marketing.
If you already have a strong communication pipeline between channels in place—meaning your customers are receiving the same information no matter where they go—and you have technology or processes that allow for things like upselling and cross-selling of your products, you are ready to tackle the next level: omnichannel. Again, the differences here are subtle.
If your goal is to improve your customer communication, focus on integrated marketing tactics.
If your goal is to improve the overall customer journey, focus on omnichannel marketing tactics.
If you don’t know where to start in developing your integrated marketing strategy, begin with the tips above as your north star. And if you’re hungry for more information on all things digital marketing, make sure to check the GetApp blog for new content or start with the resources below:
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
3. Think with Google home page, Google
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