When we talk about communication or marketing channels, we’re really talking about all of the different avenues available to reach the target audience(s).
A list of possible channels might include email marketing, direct mail, social networking (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), blogging, online search features, advertising, article/editorial placement for educational purposes (in industry trade or consumer media outlets), exhibiting and conferences or trade shows, face-to-face communication, etc.
Integrating channels into an overall campaign isn’t simply about using more than one of the channels listed above.
It’s better to think of “integration” as incorporating a “multi-channel” approach to the campaign at hand.
Integrated marketing and multichannel marketing
The subtle distinction is that a “multi-channel” approach involves evaluating your audience, segmenting it by the channel best suited for each segment, creating messages tailored to each segment, and, most importantly, recording and integrating the results and evaluation data for the entire campaign.
For example, let’s say you have a customer relationship management tool, or CRM, that houses sales reports and trends for your target audiences. The sales and trend data can help your marketing team determine how to best segment the audience.
It might tell the marketer that customer X learned about the organization through an email promotion.
Maybe customer X is more inclined to respond to another email offer, since it’s known that at least one offer has been delivered and that the customer has responded to the call to action to purchase a specific product or service.
Armed with that information,the marketing team can come up with an integrated approach that will best use the data you have available and produce better results.
The only way to use the information collected in the CRM or in another medium is to integrate the marketing efforts.
Integrating the multiple sources of data
Data is king. The more data that is available, the better chance the marketer has of honing the message and delivery medium and achieving positive results.
Technology makes it possible to collect quality data points from a variety of places. The problem for many marketers is that data is also stored in a variety of places.
Using our example above, the sales data is captured in a CRM model while the email response is captured in the email service provider system or module.
To take advantage of the benefits of integration, the marketer must actually integrate the multiple sources of data.
While it may seem like a “techie” concept, one best reserved for an IT specialist or whole department rather than a marketing individual, the truth is that quality ESPs these days offer solutions that make integration easier.
As a marketer, you need to know to ask about it.
Also read these related posts:
– Social media, email marketing and the integration of both: the customer engagement perspective
– The integration of email and social: social media strengthens email marketing
– Email Marketing + Social Intelligence = Increase In Customer Engagement ROI
– Customer-centricity, multichannel marketing, relevant content and CRM 2.0: has anything changed?
With thanks to Gold Lasso for the paper and input.