March 9, 2016
Matt Forman

Why, in 2016 are we still just talking about integrated digital marketing?

Why, with all the available technology and resources we need to make it happen, aren’t we just doing it already?

We’ve been talking about integrated marketing for years now. It was 1989 when the American Association of Advertising Agencies coined the term “integrated marketing communication” defining it as “an approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign through a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other.”

Since then, we’ve talked a lot about what integrated marketing means. Today, most marketers understand the concept of integrated marketing as creating a seamless customer journey across online and offline marketing channels. But despite acknowledging our need to adopt an integrated marketing strategy before our competitors beat us to it, we still know very little about how to actually implement one, and we see even less of a fully integrated strategy in action.

And there’s a very good reason for that. It’s really hard.

Despite being able to simplify the process (which we do later in this guide), carrying it out requires the synergy of many moving parts working together, and this is where many brands come to a standstill.

Due to the sheer scale of it, an integrated marketing strategy cannot be executed successfully all at once. It’s a work in progress that starts with integrating a couple channels together at a time, until all of the pieces align.

It is my goal in this guide to help marketers feel confident in their ability to approach an integrated marketing strategy, through a prioritised, piece-by-piece process.

After reading this, hopefully you feel equipped with a collaboration of resources that all work together to help you understand the one question we’re still asking ourselves in 2016: How do I actually implement an integrated marketing strategy?



Integrated marketing is the practice of making your online and offline marketing channels and activities work together to create a consistent, seamless brand experience for your customer that aligns their needs, wants and desires with your intended commercial outcomes.


An integrated marketing strategy can be brought to life in three well-considered steps.


An integrated marketing strategy begins with an intimate understanding of who your target audience is – not just overall, but within each of your local stores, and for each of your products or services. This is achieved through the creation of customer personas, which are research-based depictions of your audience that identify their demographics, emotional drivers, search behaviour and motivators and demotivators when it comes to making a purchase decision.


So you know who your audience is and how they go about discovering solutions, finding information, seeking validation and making purchase decisions. Now it’s time to begin developing complementary strategies that seamlessly move your potential customer through a journey that brings together their needs and your business objectives. Using the Marketing Cycle™, you can identify what goals to focus on, and which digital discipline can help you achieve it.

Awareness: Your target audience becomes aware that you have a product or service that suits their needs.

Channels that raise awareness: Content Marketing, Data Analytics, Search Optimisation, Online Advertising, Customer Experience

Interest: Customers begin to find meaning in your brand/product/service, and consider it as a solution to their needs.

Channels that garner interest: Content Marketing, Search Optimisation, Data Analytics, Social Media, Online Advertising, Customer Experience

Desire: Desire focuses on playing to your customer’s emotions and demonstrating why they need your brand/product/service.

Channels that build desire: Content Marketing, Search Optimisation, Data Analytics, Social Media, Online, Advertising, Email Marketing, Customer Experience

Action: The action phase ensures that customers are armed with all the information they need so that when they’re ready to act, they choose you.

Channels that encourage action: Search Optimisation, Data Analytics, Social Media, Online, Advertising, Email Marketing, Customer Experience

Loyalty: Customers become repeat purchasers and establish emotional ties to your brand.

Channels that nurture loyalty: Content Marketing, Data Analytics, Social Media, Email Marketing, Customer Experience

Advocacy: The ultimate goal of customer experience: Customers recommend you to their friends, raising a new wave of awareness and thus the cycle repeats itself.

Channels that promote advocacy: Data Analytics, Social Media, Email Marketing, Customer Experience

Step 3: Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Whilst there’s an abundance of digital options and platforms through which you can try to reach your customer, ultimately they all flow back to just 7 Digital Disciplines. An effective integrated digital marketing strategy is simplified by focusing on just these 7 core digital disciplines, and ensuring they integrate with each other and your offline marketing channels to produce a seamless customer experience.

Content Marketing: Content Marketing helps address and answer your persona’s needs through engaging, quality content which can be in a variety of formats from website copy, blogs, emails, videos, infographics, eBooks and more. These can reach your audience through a number of channels including your social media platforms, email newsletters, and promoted via online advertising in order to reach your customers at the right time and in the right place. To ensure brand consistency, the same messaging, tone of voice and content themes / topics should flow across your offline marketing mediums, such as billboards, magazines and radio advertising.

Search Optimisation: If content marketing holds the answers your customers are looking for, search optimisation is what helps them find that content, whether that be organically or paid via products like AdWords. Without it, your content marketing and lots of other business information would be buried deep in the internet, never to be found. A big part of integrated search is also making sure that while content includes the relevant keywords and themes that your customers are searching for, it’s also delivered in a neat, easy-to-consume way across all devices, and business information is consistent with your local stores and offline marketing campaigns.

Data Analytics: Data Analytics measures everything and validates the performance of your online and offline marketing campaigns. It underpins all 7 core digital disciplines, and can be used to bring together your online data with your offline data to create a holistic view of the performance of your integrated marketing strategy and provide insights and intelligence with value far beyond the measurement of a single marketing campaign.

Social Media: Social Media helps build a community around your brand at a number of different levels. At a brand level, social connects to your customer at both an emotional (i.e. telling your brand story) and functional level (i.e. providing customer service). Local customer should never be overlooked and for brands with local stores or operations a local social presence is key for engaging and serving customers locally. Not only are your social channels are an important place to connect with local customers, but also promote your online and offline promotions, as social media is often the first place a customer looks for you once they’ve garnered interest.

Online Advertising: Online Advertising is essential for helping you reach the right people at exactly the right moment, and for positioning your brand in the public consciousness. In addition to being an effective way of promoting your content marketing, online advertising also plays a critical role in connecting you with customers who may have discovered you offline. It’s important to run online ads around messaging and promotions that you’re running in offline marketing campaigns.

Email Marketing: Harnessed for good and not evil, Email Marketing helps you stay in touch with your customers and nurture them through the purchase journey and ultimately into brand advocates. Email newsletters are most effective when they are highly personalised around your customer persona and individual customer behaviour. Your email database itself should be built through a mix of online and offline activities.

Customer Experience: Customer Experience is the overall perception a customer has of your brand and is a product of every single interaction they’ve had with you over the course of their journey. Needless to say, customer experience integrates all 7 core digital disciplines and every possible offline activity, from seeing a billboard to being shown to a change room in store. To create a seamless customer experience, brand messaging must be consistent across all channels and the customer must be at the centre of all activities.


To give you a better idea of what an integrated digital marketing strategy actually looks like in practice, we’ve put together this story about a man named James, and his integrated journey to buying a new pair of shoes.

Check out the infographic or read through the transcript for tips on how to facilitate an integrated customer experience yourself.


Meet James.

James is a 22 year old elite University runner and an aspiring Olympian. He wasn’t planning on buying a new pair of running shoes until one evening, on his way home from practice, an interesting billboard caught his eye that said “Go Everywhere Faster” with an image of a man racing through busy New York city streets and a sub-headline that read, “next level performance runners”. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to catch the brand name but the tagline stuck in his head.

Later that night while watching his favourite sports program on television, James took out his tablet and Googled, “Go everywhere, faster” in hopes that he’d find the running shoes from the billboard.

As he searched through the results, a commercial came on that looked immediately familiar. It was the same man from the billboard, running through the streets of New York. James watched as the title “Elite Feet – Speed of Light Runners” and the slogan, “Go everywhere, faster” appeared on the screen.

James immediately returned to Google and typed in “speed of light runners”. An ad popped up for Elite Feet with an image of the running shoes from the commercial and billboard. He clicked on it and was taken to a landing page that explained more about the shoes.

In theory, the shoes sounded great but as an athlete, James knew that the proof was in the pudding.

The following day, James was on Facebook when he saw an ad promoting the Elite Feet Facebook page. He liked the page and started browsing customer comments and reviews. He even went on YouTube to watch some customer testimonials and unboxing videos.

Overall, the feedback for the Speed of Light runners was great and James decided he should go try them on in store.

Using Google Maps, James headed to his nearest Elite Feet location where he was able to walk around in the Speed of Light runners for a few minutes. Although he was impressed with the style, quality and alleged performance, James still wasn’t convinced that these “performance runners” really could improve his performance, and he told the friendly sales associate that he simply wasn’t sure if he really needed them afterall.

As the days went on, James gradually lost interest in the idea of purchasing the shoes until he saw a Facebook post about a study on performance runners. He clicked on it and it took him to the Elite Feet blog, where he read the study and a few more blogs and infographics afterwards.

By then, James had a much better understanding of the importance of performance runners for elite athletes, and how they could help with his training. He swiftly added a pair to his shopping cart and paid through PayPal.

James received a thank-you email that included a free eBook about running. He continued to receive emails every few weeks with really great content around preserving his runners, improving his performance and how to push through training ruts.

Impressed with his new runners and the service he received throughout his customer experience, James continued to follow Elite Feet on social media where he was kept up to date with special in-store events and promos. He eventually became a strong advocate of the brand, recommending his fellow athletes to them.


As we said in the beginning, it’s 2016 and integrated marketing hasn’t quite moved from concept to practice yet, mainly because it’s a massive thing to actually do. Instead, many brands choose to implement small changes that deliver an immediate impact and ROI, but unfortunately, those things by themselves don’t change the customer experience.

The best way to approach an integrated marketing strategy is really in pieces. Start to integrate a couple channels together, and prioritise each piece based on how much it improves customer experience, or limits negative outcomes.

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out these examples of brands who are doing a great job integrating parts of the puzzle.

1. Seventeen Magazine Pioneers The Customer Persona
If you want to see customer personas done right, look no further than Seventeen magazine who first developed and shared their target persona in 1950. Based on survey data from teens and their mothers, “Teena” was an awkward adolescent who looked to her favourite magazine for advice on all things teenager. Read more about Seventeen’s persona development, and 6 other brands who’ve nailed the persona concept here.

2. Snickers Flawlessly Incorporates Brand Messaging Into Their Content Marketing
It’s over 5 years old, but Snicker’s “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign is a master of message consistency. The concept flows seamlessly across their social media channels, TV and online ads. It’s also at the heart of their content marketing, with two dedicated YouTube spin-off campaigns: “You’re Not YouTube” asks YouTube personalities post videos of themselves pretending they’ve filmed them while ridiculously hungry, and “Who Are You When You’re Hungry” sees fans showing their alternate hunger persona.

3. How Domino’s Uses Data & Mobile To Enhance The Customer Experience
Imagine re-ordering your favourite meal just by texting a pizza emoji to Domino’s. This is just one of the many ways the pizza giant is integrating data with everything they do to create a personalised, fast and entertaining experience.

And if you thought ordering via text was cool, you can also order via Twitter and pretty much any other device as shown in this commercial.

As if the ordering experience wasn’t cool enough, mobile app and desktop users who are waiting for their delivery can pass the time by completing a fun questionnaire about pizza, that is every bit as fun for the customer as it is useful for the Domino’s data team. They can also watch as their pizza’s being cooked in real-time, and track their delivery guy using a GPS tracker. Suffice to say, the future is here and it smells delicious.

4. Shazam Uses Offline Marketing To Create A Custom Mobile Experience
What started off as a popular music discovery app is now revolutionising the way we experience traditional advertising. Shazam has always been acutely aware of the importance of mobile experiences, and now they’re using their own visual recognition marketing platform to allow mobile users to scan logos, QR codes and other “Shazamable” items embedded in things like commercials and magazine ads, to be instantly transported to an interactive mobile experience. Learn more about how they’ve partnered with Disney and HarperCollins to bring these experiences to life, or watch this showreel to see some of the Shazamable ads they’ve done!

5. How Stuart Witzman Tag-Teams Their Remarketing Strategy
Dynamic social media duo Facebook and Instagram have helped remarketing reach a whole new level, and high fashion brand Stuart Witzman are showing us how it’s done. The famous shoe company were one of the first to take advantage of the ability to tag-team via Facebook and Instagram. They set up video ads on Instagram and then targeted people who saw those ads with product ads on Facebook to help close the sale. Read more about the Stuart Witzman case study here.

6. Atkins Is Hungry To Integrate Data Into Their Content Marketing
You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Weight control nutrition company Atkins knows their customers need proof that their plan will work for them, which is why they fuel their content marketing and social media with tonnes of facts, stats and studies. Check out their Facebook page for examples of the kinds of data-driven posts they use to nurture their customers.

7. Save The Shopping Cart: How Forever 21 Integrates Email & Remarketing With Their Checkout Process
Many brands get frustrated by abandoned shopping carts, but when integrated with other digital channels, they can be a huge opportunity to recapture customers, upsell and build loyalty. International fashion retailer Forever 21 run an admirable checkout process that sees customers receiving engaging emails once they’ve abandoned carts. The emails recommend other products they might like, and work alongside Facebook remarketing to remind the customer of what they’re missing out on. Here are some screenshots of email and Facebook remarketing they’ve targeted one of our team members with:

8. How Mass Nutrition Integrates In-Store Promos With Social Media
One of the greatest powers of digital marketing is its ability to build online communities around your local stores, ultimately driving more in-store foot traffic and sales. Australian vitamin and supplement retailer, Mass Nutrition, does a terrific job of this. They have social media profiles set up for each of their locations, and incentivise their audience to come in-store by posting photos of the friendly staff, seminars, promos and events.

9. How Coffee Chain Tim Hortons Is Bridging The Online-Offline Gap, One Emoji At A Time

One of the greatest barriers to adopting an integrated marketing strategy is bridging the online-offline gap. But one company is well and truly on their way to closing it up.

Iconic Canadian coffee franchise Tim Hortons is on a mission to create an endless user experience by equipping customers with a range of digital tools that drive them in-store, back online and over to a local community to relive their experience all over again. So, how do they do it?

Let’s start with their very own “EHmoji keyboard”. This features exclusive Tim Hortons emojis of some of their best selling products and cult favourites that help spread brand awareness and desire on the most popular digital device – mobile. No doubt many Canadians will be racing to their nearest Tim Hortons drive thru after receiving this text:

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 3.28.46 PM

The franchise also boasts an innovative TimmyMe app that helps customers find their nearest location, quickly access menu and nutritional info, tap their phone to pay via a Tim Horton’s gift card, and even organise a coffee run to be picked up via drive-thru or in-store.

But it’s the “Every Cup Tells A Story” website that really shows just how dedicated this brand is to integrating their in-store experiences with digital in order to build an online community. The site encourages fans to share a story about a Tim Horton’s memory or experience they’ve had. Selected stories are often shared on Tim Horton’s various social profiles, encouraging a wave of advocacy through user generated content that is a)cost-effective, b)viral and c)awesome.

As you can see from the case studies above, marketers are really just getting started with linking together the various online and offline channels in a synergistic way that adds value to the customer experience, but it’s a great start and you gotta start somewhere right?

I’d love to learn about your examples of brands that are doing a great job of starting or leading the integrated digital marketing charge. Just drop me a line with your comments or questions below.