6 Elements of a Truly Integrated Campaign

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According to Gartner, campaigns integrating 4 or more digital channels will outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by 300% from a performance perspective.
But we need to go further if we want to create a truly unified campaign experience for today’s audiences, and this starts with taking an honest look at how integrated your campaign model really is.
Kantar Milward Brown’s ‘Art of Integration’ study, revealed that brands believe they are excelling at executing integrated strategies, marking themselves as 89% integrated. However, consumers were less convinced of the integrated nature of their campaigns, marking advertising “campaign fit” at 58%.
What does this tell us? Perceptions of integrated campaigns between brands and audiences greatly differ. And while marketers are doing their best to embrace holistic campaigns, there’s room for a deeper connection when it comes to overall campaign fit.
But what makes a campaign truly integrated? While the answer is subjective, and the criteria can vary slightly, our experience has shown that successfully integrated campaigns encompass these six key elements.

1. A unifying message

Campaigns revolve around a theme, central idea, story, or purpose. This theme is the steel thread that works to unify the messaging across all of the marketing content and assets within a campaign. To be the foundation of an integrated campaign, the idea or message should be relevant to more than one team or channel. This will also help to garner support from the larger marketing org who will need to collaborate for successful execution (and perhaps even help to secure additional budget, recognizing that not all campaign budgets come from the one pot).
Consider a message that appeals to some type of human emotion. An IPA study of 996 campaigns, across 700 brands and spanning 30 years, revealed that emotions are more powerful than rational messages, especially over the long term. “Emotions have more effects, and they last longer. They are twice as efficient as rational messages, and deliver twice the profit.”

2. A silo-busting effect

Here’s the uncomfortable truth: integrated campaigns, by nature, are deeply disruptive. They force at least two or three teams who don’t normally work together, to collaborate. If the campaign is run by only one team, for example, the social media marketing team, then it’s not a truly integrated campaign. The truly integrated campaign should always look to bring in new teams and additional channels to the fold, with more sections of the broader marketing team joining as the organization becomes more integrated. The larger and more ambitious your campaign, the more teams that will be part of the collaborative mix. Most importantly, breaking down these silos means breaking down other barriers that may prevent marketing from having a single view on the customer. According to Experian, “99% of companies believe a single customer view is important for their business, but only 24% actually have one.” 

3. A consistent brand connection

Brand consistency should be an innate part of your brand identity. Your identity includes your slogan, hashtag, color scheme, message, visual identity, tone of voice, logo, creative idea, and anything else that makes up your brand identity and values. Being consistent with your campaign messaging helps to protect the integrity of your brand and reinforce the narrative of your campaign. This means establishing branding and visual guidelines and enforcing them across all assets that are used in a campaign. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that giving consumers a consistent message across a variety of channels can improve purchase intent by 90% and brand perception by 68%. A study by Lucid Press revealed that inconsistent brand usage can negatively hurt a brand, with 70% of its surveyed participants citing “confusion in the market” as the number one issue.

4. A customized approach

What separates remarkable campaigns from the mediocre is the ability to understand each channels’ potential and adapt the content, creative, and format accordingly. Avoid the one-size-fits-all route and opt instead for a custom-fit approach. Understand the role that each channel plays in an integrated marketing strategy, and use the unique benefits of each of those channels to create a sophisticated integrated campaign. The winning formula here is to pay attention to customization coupled with a laser focus on relevancy.
According to Google, campaigns drive the most engagement when viewers see creative that feels personally relevant. “Across the many brands that have already used intent signals, the results are telling. Campaigns that use intent-based targeting on mobile have 20% higher ad recall lift and 50% higher brand awareness lift relative to campaigns that only use demographic targeting.” Brands need to consider a personalized approach in order to stand out.

5. A clear return on investment

A campaign should align to a clear goal: building awareness, driving consideration, convincing your target audience that you are the right solution for them or all of the above. Based on the goals set, all campaigns should be documented with corresponding KPIs. In fact, marketers who set goals are more likely to report success over those who don’t, by a whopping 429%. Establishing goals will also help you manage expectations around campaign performance with stakeholders.
After setting goals, it’s crucial to have a system in place for proper measurement. Ensure that you have the technology (we’ll dive deeper into this in the next element) to track and monitor performance throughout the campaign lifecycle. Successfully integrated campaigns require visibility across all activities — that way, marketers can make certain that their brand, marketing, and company goals are being achieved, helping to quantify the ROI of their efforts.

6. A flawless execution aided by technology

The inherent complexity of large organizations often leads to a lack of transparency and misalignment: marketers work in spreadsheets and documents with outdated information, resulting in wasted time and effort, and a legacy of disconnected assets. From aligning multiple stakeholders to ensuring all deliverables are completed and pushed out on time, orchestrating an integrated campaign can feel like an arduous journey.
Current trends reveal that brands are becoming increasingly aware of the critical role of technology in marketing execution and need to choose the right collaborative tools. In fact, according to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019, organizations are allocating 29% of the marketing budget to technology.
Whatever technology you invest in, we cannot overstate the importance of functionality that allows for full visibility into campaign activities. Not only does this provide executives with a snapshot of marketing efforts, allowing them to easily get an overview of progress and results, but it also helps marketers to track campaign execution and make necessary iterations. Having a line of sight into integrated campaigns allows marketers to be agile and optimize quickly (and with confidence), knowing they have the full picture based on data-backed insights.

Examples of integrated campaigns

A great B2B example of an integrated approach to campaign planning and execution is GE’s Balance the Equation, with efforts spanning both online and off, and a public pledge to put 20,000 women in STEM jobs by 2020. The comprehensive campaign utilized various channels, including a TVC that posted ‘What if scientists were treated like rockstars?’ with event tours that invited potential recruits to engage with GE’s team and have real conversations about what it’s like to work at GE. The campaign also included a whitepaper study that highlighted the talent crisis and the economic opportunity of addressing the gender imbalance in the industry and a range of other marketing tactics under the unifying message of #balancethequation. This is an example of a successful, integrated campaign with a message that appeals to human emotion.
Another notable marketing initiative, Nike’s B2C campaign, ‘Find Your Greatness’, focused on the everyday athlete. The holistic campaign encompassed many digital and traditional tactics, including a film featuring non-celebrity athletes around the world competing, showcasing a relatable notion of what it means to be an athlete. The sporting brand also initiated a digital campaign, inviting people to share their everyday achievements on social media, and even launched a motivational hub to help athletes share progress and success, much like a real-life training coach would do.
If you watch TV, use the Internet, or are active on any form of social media, it’s likely that you’ve come across Marriott’s most recent integrated campaign (which is, in itself, a sign of successful integration). They rolled out an extensive campaign around the Marriott Bonvoy travel rewards program, supported by the tagline “Rewards Reimagined,” through its 30 hotel brands. The ambitious campaign spanned television, digital, mobile, print, social media, advertising, out of home, and cinema, and involved high-profile sponsors such as Manchester United. The consistent messaging across every channel was a true indication of the maturity with which the company has come to possess after many successful integrated campaigns.

Key Takeaways

Single and multichannel campaigns are not enough — integrated campaigns are a necessity for building sustainable brands.
Beyond the clear short-term effects of audience and brand building, the long-term effects of integration cannot be understated. Getting integrated campaigns right will result in a trifecta of paybacks towards your brand, your customers, and your team. It can be a long journey, but starting with these six elements will help you on your way to integrated campaign success.
If you’re ready to embrace integrated campaigns but are unsure of where to start, check out our blueprint for integrated campaign success.
Lieu Pham is VP, Strategy and Creative Services at NewsCred.

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