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The Medium Is the Message … or Is It?

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Written by: Nicola Michel

How to make digital strategies an integral part of the marketing mix

Digital marketing has caused a fundamental shift in thinking for traditional marketers. From developing a digital strategy, choosing and leveraging different digital channels, to measuring and tracking success, there are many examples of companies successfully disseminating a consistent message across on and offline channels. Indeed, as this much-shared article notes, “omni-channel integration is now the holy grail capability in the digital world”.

What is less well understood is the “how to” of integrating this brave new digital world into traditional marketing strategies. While it is more and more apparent that integration is key to success, many companies continue to manage their digital and traditional marketing efforts separately.

This flies in the face of the reality that a unified and seamless management of customer and brand assets across digital and traditional channels improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of a marketing plan.

Digital strategies should not take the place of a traditional marketing plan, but they can, and should, amplify marketing and communication initiatives, by engaging with customers on the channels they already use, providing a greater number of customer touch points and ultimately changing the way customers and prospects engage.

In other words, they allow marketers to unify their marketing goals with the best digital technologies.

To give you access to the best current thinking, we have compiled the following articles and general tips from leading marketers and digital strategists:

1. Make branding consistent across all channels 

According to Christine Moorman, in her article 12 Tips for Integrating Social Media Strategy into your Marketing Strategy, consistent branding should be extended to social media channels, for example, creating templates and guidelines for Facebook and Twitter posts in order to achieve strategic alignment.

2. Choose strategy over tools

Ask yourself whether a new social media tool will really help design or develop a more effective marketing strategy. A bright and shiny object, chosen simply because it’s new is not the answer.

3. Interaction between online and offline activities is vital

The article 3 Ways to Integrate Digital and Traditional Marketing, highlights the need to use traditional marketing to promote digital activities. For example, traditional advertising can be used to drive traffic to your website. In the same way, information gleaned from online campaigns can be used to develop more focused offline campaigns.

8 Ways to Integrate Social Media with Existing Marketing, by Paul Chaney, argues that using social media to promote more traditional marketing campaigns can also be very effective. For example, the 2012 Nike #makeitcount campaign where the public was asked to share how they planned to #makeitcount that year, was so successful that it was continued into 2013.

4. Integrate your teams

By allowing social media experts to live and work within brand and customer teams, social media strategies can be employed as soon as communication objectives are set. And decisions on each side of the coin can be informed by the thinking and expertise of the other.

 5. Control the social media megaphone

Protect your online reputation by controlling your social media efforts. For companies with different brands, for example, allowing every brand to have its own Facebook page or Twitter account might not be the best strategy. As Christine Moorman points out, deciding which social media platform is ideal for a given brand from a strategic point of view is key.

The bottom line? While few CMOs would question the need for a digital marketing strategy, many may still be struggling to accept digital strategies as part of the traditional marketing toolkit, rather than a separate and unconnected marketing tool. However, a genuinely successful marketing strategy must embrace the best that both worlds have to offer, and more importantly, ensure they work together as a seamless and integrated whole.

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