by Gene Billadeau
Most marketers will agree, the best possible strategy is creating a straight-line customer journey that takes in prospects and turns them into buyers. We all wish it was that simple.
The sheer number of marketing touchpoints and communication channels have exploded since the birth of the Internet, mobile technology and digital content delivery. Prospects today can easily block, opt-out, swipe by, close, delete and otherwise bypass a majority of your marketing messages. But the good news is they now can also curate, submit to, endorse, participate, engage in and even share the content they like and find valuable.
Not surprisingly, that is where you want to be. But how do you get there?
Put the customer at the center of your content and design process.
This is the big one. Creating a powerful, customer-centric engagement path is vital to an effective, integrated marketing campaign. With the number of marketing channels you have at your disposal, prospects can arrive through one of many doors you create, often navigating from one to the next. But your goal is to funnel them to a singular action—what’s known as conversion—the point where a prospect becomes a sales lead or signals purchasing intent. So, if that’s the destination, “think like a customer” and don’t divert or distract prospects with too many choices, actions or forks in the road. Which leads us to…
Unfold your story. Entice prospects into increasingly richer content and brand experiences.
Surrounding prospects with your message in multiple channels has proven highly effective. However, too many marketers unsuccessfully try to tell their entire story in every tactic. Ask yourself this hypothetical question: “If you tell me everything all at once, what reason do I have to continue?” Leading your prospects through simple and singular steps of discovery, with irresistible and unique appeals, anticipating their actions, and providing very focused, bite-sized content and resources, unfolds your value proposition in a way that invites the deepest engagement.
Get personal. Get relevant.
While the digital age has fractionalized the marketing landscape forever, it also provides us with the ability to select and speak to our audiences in the most focused and relevant ways. And while it’s a given that we use data and personalization in digital channels, I’m continually amazed at what we can do with digital printing. The ability to simultaneously segment groups of buyers with highly-relevant appeals, images and offers, to version test, and to personalize at a one-to-one level is extraordinarily powerful. At GLS / NEXT, we call this level of work individualization—marketing that reaches beyond simple personalization— targeting prospects with greater relevance, making them far more likely to convert.
Interestingly, some of the trailblazing work in individualized print is being done following an online engagement, not in front of it. Once, we used print to drive traffic to digital channels. But increasingly we’re using what we learn about a prospect’s preferences and data during online engagements to produce hyper-relevant digital print responses that are surprising and impossible to ignore.
Map an integrated customer journey.
With all these channels, capabilities and tactics at your disposal, it’s important to visualize the most strategic engagement pathways for your prospects. Integrated marketing creates a wide funnel—more doors from which to invite potential customers. These doors are represented by the different channels and tactics you can employ: from direct marketing to advertising, digital, print, content, search and even PR. But it’s not about throwing all these tactics against the wall, it’s about strategically selecting the best channels and tactics to create a focused campaign that is most likely to attract and convert your desired prospects.
While the strategic choices, scope and scale vary from one challenge to the next, we often use a campaign roadmap artifact from which we identify tactics and articulate our campaign strategy. This is a single sheet depiction of the audience, data sets, tactics and pathways that we calculate to be most successful in generating conversion, leads, sales or other desired outcomes. What we’re showing above is a simplified template example that shows many of the basic tactics and channels from which we select, and where they deploy across the mediascape, including into paid, earned, shared and owned media. We also integrate eventual sales channel actions and tactics into our plans as well.
The strategies behind the strategy.
Yes, an integrated, multi-channel approach does represent a facet of campaign strategy. But even the best campaign is powerless without the right underlying messages and creative strategy. Market insights, competitive analysis, engagement strategies and powerful creative are vital to campaign success. There’s a lot of deeper information behind each layer in our roadmaps, and we have many versions designed to reflect more complex approaches. But we find this kind of mapping exercise is invaluable in refining our strategy, selecting the right tactics and channels, and simulating various engagement models. And, as you fill in your roadmap, it’s also extremely useful to help communicate the workings of your integrated strategy to internal stakeholders and decision-makers.
Gene Billadeau is the Senior Vice President, Creative at NEXT Precision Marketing and a co-founder of NEXT in 1991. An award-winning creative director, designer and writer, Gene has helped fuel success for dozens of B2B and B2C brands through smart strategies, bold creative and powerful execution.
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