By Barbara Pellow November 1, 2006 -- In day's world of one-to-one marketing, with permission-based marketing and the many personalized marketing strategies flooding corporate America, it seems appropriate to reevaluate the technology being used to effectively communicate with customers and prospects. Just a few years ago, marketing via e-mail and the Web was a novelty. But today, companies are using these new communications media to retain existing customers and attract new ones through more innovative marketing campaigns. For the graphic communications service provider, this is creating an entirely new market opportunity in uncharted waters. This week I want to provide an overview of both the terminology and components associated with an integrated marketing campaign. What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign? From the perspective of a marketing executive, an integrated marketing campaign is the tool set that delivers the right offer or message as well as response to individual requests at the right time, while delivering the highest value to customers as well as the greatest profitability to the organization. The goals include development of a deeper and more relevant customer relationship based on growing knowledge about that customer. If effectively used, these campaigns increase response rates, market awareness and revenue, and maximize profits. Integrated marketing campaigns are focused on consistent and relevant communications with customers across multiple touchpoints. A touchpoint is defined as all of the communication customers experience during their relationship lifecycle with an organization. Whether it is an ad, Web site, sales person, store or office, touch points are important because customers form perceptions of organizations and brand based on their cumulative experiences. Some marketers look at integrated marketing campaigns as the silver bullet to drive business. If effectively used, these campaigns increase response rates, market awareness and revenue, and maximize profits. There are essential elements that need to be in place to make an integrated marketing campaign effective. First, your client needs to have a clear and coherent marketing strategy in place that succinctly defines the target market. Second, an attractive and appealing offer is critical for driving response rates. Third, there needs to be a good creative execution with a sound marketing message. Finally, the strategy, offer, creative execution and marketing message need to be backed with quality data sourced either internally or through external lists. Without these four elements, no campaign will be successful, regardless of the technology utilized for implementation. The Technology and Terminology The Internet introduced new channels for marketing and created new consumer behaviors. To be most effective, marketers need to reach customers via print, web, and e-mail. By tying them all together in an integrated campaign, they have the ability to collect more customer data for use in the next stage, track responses with personalized URLs, and learn which media is most likely to get a response from each contact for more successful, and cost-effective, follow-ups. The integrated marketing campaign starts with mail. It could be a printed direct mail piece or it could be an e-mail. The document needs to be designed to attract attention. If it is strictly being sent electronically, designers need to ensure that it can be opened by the individual’s browser. Unique sizes for printed pieces and appealing color is important, but the most critical aspect of any direct mail campaign is the actual offer to drive the recipient to the next step. This is typically a link to a personalized URL. The campaign's Mail File (list of direct mail recipients) is used to generate Personalized URLs for each recipient. These PURLs are then woven within the direct mail piece, along with other variable data. When the recipients type their PURLs into a browser, they arrive on personalized web pages (landing pages or VIP pages) populated with copy, images, and offers also based on customer data. These are frequently termed microsites. PURL web pages can be as simple or advanced as the needs of a marketing program dictate. And from there, the measurement and reporting of results begins. Once the individual has linked into the personalized URL, creative marketers want to gather additional data about the prospect. The offer strategy should be designed to entice the respondent to complete a brief survey or provide data relative to interests and needs. The objective is to ensure a high level of interaction with the prospect. By tying print, web, and e-mail together in an integrated campaign, marketers can collect more customer data for more successful, and cost-effective, follow-ups. Systems available in the market today include built-in tracking to enable continuous monitoring of the campaign’s progress as customers enter their personalized pages and provide additional relevant information. Campaign response rates, visitor response patterns, and detailed lead information can be available 24x7 as the campaign unfolds. Because systems are template driven, adjustments to messaging and offers can be done in a matter of hours versus days. This allows marketers to make changes in the campaign in near-real-time based on results they are seeing. Tools sets also have the ability to generate powerful reports so the marketing executive can share the impact of critical marketing programs with the entire management team. This kind of response tracking service can turn a print provider into a marketing partner who can accurately pinpoint the effectiveness of a campaign and understand how to best target campaign resources and improve returns on the marketing investment. Based on the responses to survey questions, systems are designed to proactively forward leads to sales staff. Systems can route leads to the appropriate representatives via multiple communications platforms, including CRM (such as SalesForce.com), email, cell phone and pager. The Value Proposition By targeting customers with a highly relevant and personalized message, and integrating that message across media channels, companies are finding they can capture the attention of customers and generate impressive results. Communication in a cross media environment is becoming a force multiplier in driving the customer relationship. While not all systems have the same feature set, Bluetree, Mindfire, Pageflex, and XMPie are examples of solutions that can help graphic communications service providers participate in this emerging market opportunity. Communication in a cross media environment is becoming a force multiplier in driving the customer relationship. The primary value proposition for marketers is that customers respond to relevant messages and their level of response increases as messages are integrated across media channels. However, tools today have additional value for the marketing executive including the ability to * Create Brand Consistency. While demands on marketing teams increase, centralized marketing resources within companies are decreasing. Integrated campaign management tools help ensure brand consistency by allowing marketing teams to manage and control marketing assets centrally, yet offering others throughout the company the ability to access those assets in order to execute easily. * More Easily Establish an Integrated Approach. Integration of data as well as integration in marketing strategy is important in keeping a 360-degree view of the customer as well as building synergies across marketing tactics. Marketers want to communicate a cohesive message across multiple channels. * Deliver Personalized Communication. Collecting customer data is fairly easy. Using customer data in order to deliver highly relevant and personalized communication is more challenging. Integrated marketing campaign tools can help marketers execute highly personalized communications based on customer needs and attributes at an individual level. * Leverage Interactive Technology. Interactive mediums provide marketers the ability to create efficiencies as well as two-way communication channels not possible with traditional media. Integrated marketing campaign tools help maximize those efficiencies by managing e-mail marketing, websites, electronic surveys, and landing pages. * Demonstrate Accountability. With challenging economic conditions and flat to only slightly increasing marketing budgets, marketing professionals are being asked to justify their marketing budgets and being held accountable by top executives for results. The response dashboards can help marketers access quantifiable results in order to better understand their return on marketing investments (ROMI). They translate marketing campaigns into real sales leads that can be acted on quickly. * Create Customer Value. In today’s competitive environment, competing on price and product features alone can be dangerous. Marketers need to build a relationship that gives them a competitive advantage to serve their customers’ needs. Integrated marketing campaign tools will help your clients demonstrate an understanding of customers’ needs and create a relationship that has greater value than products or services alone. Now is the Time Most importantly, with integrated marketing campaigns in the mix, the graphic communications firm now has a new value-add opportunity. As competition drives down margins, selling true marketing ROI enables real competitive differentiation and allows increasingly sustainable profit margins. When graphic communications service providers focus on marketing ROI solutions, they move away from the commodity sale and move toward higher-margin, value-added services. The delivery of integrated marketing campaigns not only strengthens customer loyalty for your clients, but it helps you develop closer links to your client’s core business. Nothing happens until someone sells something --for both you and your customers. If you have not yet considered adding integrated marketing campaigns to your business mix, now would be the time to do so.