The integration imperative

The rebirth of marketing integration

There has been a profound shift in the way marketing works - and, it appears as if the role of the chief marketing officer has now become obsolete.

Many big companies such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Uber have done away with the position altogether, and it looks as if it won’t be replaced in the immediate future. Instead, we’ve seen a rise in new roles such as ‘chief growth officer’, ‘chief brand officer’ and ‘chief experience officer’ highlighting how marketing is being subsumed into other departments.

Previously, marketing teams would take a more straightforward and linear approach to their campaigns, commanding control over everything from the context of messaging to its delivery. With fewer platforms and tools to contend with, it was possible to directly reach an audience with little disruption. Yet, in today’s world companies that continue to use this strategy run the risk of falling behind their competitors.

New technologies have changed the game when it comes to producing and distributing content, and in turn this has also shaped audience behaviour. For example, communication has become multi-directional with digital platforms enabling customers to say exactly what’s on their mind on any forum they choose; and, people are free to rummage through online content timelines, making it harder for businesses to try and impose restrictions. There are no secrets anymore - it’s all about transparency.

So, how can marketers take advantage of this evolving landscape?

Integrated marketing is the way forward; this means adopting a matrix style approach, whereby strategy and story are applied equally to every tool and every campaign. The marketing funnel should be filled from top to bottom with a roster of content, all of which has been repurposed to meet the needs of every channel. Think infographics, blogs, case studies, images, video, whitepapers etc. However, rather than just throwing everything at every channel and hoping it sticks, there needs to be strategy applied to how your content will be consumed. And this needs to be achieved through integration with other teams across the business.

Whilst marketers understand the importance of integrated marketing and how it is critical to achieving marketing goals, maximising exposure and boosting return on investment – it does have its challenges. At Skout, we surveyed 100 marketing professionals to gain insight into their experiences with integrated marketing, including the difficulties that arise when trying to adopt this approach and the opportunities it brings when done so successfully.

We found that 63% of B2B marketers feel they are not taking advantage of the different marketing channels available to them. Nearly half are struggling to understand how to integrate channels, claiming this is the biggest obstacle stopping them being able to deliver their marketing activities. Failure to create content that can be used across a variety of channels was also identified as a challenge to successful integrated marketing, with 40% not reusing content as they felt it was unsuitable for other formats.

Interestingly, 85% of respondents agreed that case studies should be created for reuse across many platforms for maximum impact. This could include podcasts, website testimonials, long form PDFs and press stories, yet in our experience these content assets are often significantly underutilised. It’s not surprising that 32% blame ineffective campaign planning for not reusing content, suggesting that many marketers don’t fully consider their objectives before developing content programmes.

To overcome these challenges, it is vital for marketers to collaborate with other teams across the business to create meaningful themes and quality content for the business. Part of this is to ensure careful consideration is given to how and where marketing assets will be used. If this is done successfully, the modern marketer will not fade into the background but instead demonstrate value through means of integration.

By Claire Lamb, director at Skout