Key Takeaways 🔥
- Integrated Marketing is Essential. An integrated digital marketing plan ensures all brand messaging, campaigns, and programs tell one cohesive story. This holistic approach is vital to break through today’s saturated media landscape and genuinely engage consumers.
- Repetition and Consistency are Key. An integrated digital marketing strategy surrounds the audience with repetitive and consistent campaign messaging. When executed correctly, every tactic should guide customers through the purchase journey, emphasizing that your product meets their needs.
- Audience Understanding Drives Strategy. A deep dive into audience relevance is the first step in building a digital marketing strategy. Brands must understand their audience’s demographics, interests, needs, and online behaviors. This knowledge forms the foundation for creating effective buyer personas.
- Narrative Anchors Your Brand. Establishing an emotional connection with your audience is crucial. Writing a compelling brand narrative answers who you are, what you stand for, and why others should care. This narrative serves as a guiding star for all digital marketing efforts.
- PESO Model Provides Structure. The PESO model, encompassing paid, earned, shared, and owned media, offers a comprehensive framework for segmenting digital marketing activities. Integrating PESO ensures a well-rounded approach to reaching audiences across various channels.
- Align Marketing with Business Outcomes. Your digital marketing strategy should directly support larger business initiatives. Whether the goal is to increase online sales or reinforce brand reputation, establishing clear, measurable objectives ensures alignment and focus.
- Emerging Platforms Offer New Opportunities. The rise of the metaverse and virtual reality presents fresh avenues for brand engagement. As technology continues to evolve, staying updated and leveraging these new platforms can set brands apart in the digital landscape.
Crafting an integrated digital marketing plan requires a holistic and integrated approach that aligns all brand messaging, campaigns, and programs into one cohesive story.
Why this matters:
Repetition, consistency, and storytelling are key attributes you need to consider to break through the craziness of today’s society and make an impact. An integrated digital marketing plan helps you reach your target consumer across the channels where they pay attention.
Writing a digital marketing plan isn’t hard but requires work.
An integrated digital marketing plan can help you reach your target audiences with creative campaigns, programs, and game-changing brand messaging.
Using all the channels at your disposal, you can connect with customers who are most active online and drive action. Examples of a digital marketing plan should always include the full PESO model, including paid, earned, shared, and owned media activations.
Maybe you know all of this already.
Why is Integrated Digital Marketing Important?
It seems like a dumb question, but let’s be honest. Not everyone knows this.
An integrated digital marketing strategy should surround the audience with repetitive and consistent campaign messaging. If done right, every tactic should work together to take customers through the path to purchase, reinforcing that your product has all they need to solve their business problem or satisfy them emotionally.
Some of the benefits of an integrated digital marketing plan include the following:
- Reach a wider audience: Use multiple digital channels to reach a larger audience. Consumers must interact with brand messaging 3-5 times before believing. Take action. Purchase. Tell others.
- Build brand awareness and reputation: Control the narrative and manage your reputation by delivering a consistent message across all channels.
- Generate leads: Use lead gen programs that nurture and guide customers through the purchase journey.
- Improved customer loyalty and retention: Improve customer loyalty and the likelihood of returning by providing a positive and consistent digital customer experience across all channels.
Building an Integrated Digital Marketing Plan
An integrated digital marketing plan should outline how you will achieve your goals for the year. The program should consider the brand’s strengths and weaknesses, audience definition, messaging, budget, and resources you have or need.
It should also be flexible. The digital ecosystem constantly changes with new channels, technologies like generative AI, and political initiatives that could make existing channels obsolete.
The exact mix of channels will vary depending on the size of your company, digital marketing budget, and business goals. But your strategy should always be integrated across all channels and work together to tell a cohesive story. For example, it’s common for brands to launch small quarterly digital marketing campaigns, so each one should align with the larger plan.
Align Your Digital Marketing Strategy to Business Outcomes
Your digital marketing strategy and goals must align with a larger business initiative. For example, if you want to sell more products, the plan must include measurable goals that define the approach. For example, one goal might look something like this:
- Increase online sales by 32% by the end of 2023
Establishing goals will help you stay grounded, and you can prioritize your marketing tactics accordingly. Other business goals that you may align your integrated digital strategy might include reinforcing brand reputation and customer reputation, hiring top talent, and supporting new product launches.
Defining Your Audience
|Demographics||Basic attributes of the audience||What are their age, gender, location, etc.?|
|Interests||Topics or activities the audience is passionate about||What are their hobbies? What content do they consume?|
|Needs & Pain Points||Challenges or problems the audience faces||What solutions are they seeking? What problems do they encounter?|
|Motivations||Factors that drive the audience’s decisions||Are they driven by success, fear, altruism, etc.?|
|Online Behavior||Digital habits of the audience||Where do they spend their time online? Which platforms do they frequent?|
A deep dive into audience relevance is the first step in building your digital marketing strategy. The process will shed light on what’s important to them. To get started, you’ll have to get answers to the following questions:
- What are their demographics? (age, gender, location, etc.)
- What are their interests?
- What are their needs and pain points?
- What motivates them? (fear, success, altruism, etc.)
- Where do they spend their time online?
From there, it’s always a best practice to invest in creating buyer personas, a visual representation of your ideal customer. Personas can help you facilitate your marketing plan and ensure you account for all the programs and channels you are responsible for. In addition, buyer personas are typically part of a more extensive audience analysis to get the necessary insights to do this correctly.
If you don’t have the budget for full-blown audience analysis, you can leverage 3rd party research from resources like GlobalWebIndex, Statista, or eMarketer. They often publish market research that you can reference in your plan. Below is a great example.
Writing Your Brand’s Source of Truth
It’s insufficient to sell a product or service or be “open for business.” Establishing an emotional connection with all your constituents would be best. The best way to do this is by writing a brand narrative, a story that captures the essence of your brand and why you exist. It should be written like poetry, not like Haiku or a nursery rhyme. If you read it aloud, it should flow, and you should get tingles. It needs to be passionate and deliver on emotion.
When writing your brand narrative, you’ll need to answer these three questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- Why should others care?
A brand narrative is NOT where you would find information about the company’s history, locations, or executives. That’s what the “about” section is for on the corporate website. Instead, think of your narrative as a manifesto—a north star.
All integrated digital marketing campaigns, assets, status updates, and web pages should align with that narrative. Writing a brand narrative will be crucial to your marketing plan, and documenting the key message statements will make implementation easier.
Aligning Key Messages to the Narrative
Writing key messages is a best practice for providing more specificity to a brand narrative. These are used to provide more clarity to the storyline.
An integrated digital marketing campaign is only as strong as its key messages. These concise phrases capture the essence of what you’re trying to sell, and they should be at the heart of every ad, piece of content, and interaction with potential customers. It needs to be the foundation of your customer experience.
Without clear and concise messaging, your target audience may get confused, and the performance of your digital media campaign will suffer.
Below is an example of a brand narrative of a fictional photography brand called Photolabs.
Below is an example of what supportive key messages may look like based on two different audiences. Remember, key messages reinforce the brand narrative and work exceptionally well if you have multiple products and audiences.
Align PESO to Your Integrated Digital Marketing Campaign
PESO is an acronym that stands for paid, earned, shared, and owned media. It provides a way to segment all your digital marketing activities across each channel. In my mind, PESO is synonymous with integrated marketing.
When integrating PESO into your plan, one example might look something like this:
- Paid Media: This would include a summary of all your digital media programs that would consist of budget (spend by channel), creative (including tech specs), channels (display ads, Google paid search, sponsorships, content syndication), other paid media programs, and measurement. This approach would be similar to creating a complete digital media plan.
- Earned Media: A summary of your target media outlets, relationships, influencer/and brand ambassador programs, and PR measurement.
- Shared Media: This would include a social media strategy with objectives (by platform), content themes, creator marketing, brand advocacy programs, paid social, and measurement.
- Owned Media: A summary of your website goals, SEO and optimization tactics, lead capture forms, landing pages, email marketing, nurture program, and measurement.
While PESO is one way to structure your digital marketing plan, you can also approach it at the channel level. Read this Ultimate Guide to Integrated Marketing: PESO Model.
Top 10 Factors When Building a Digital Marketing Plan
HubSpot recently released its State of Marketing report, and there is a wealth of information for digital marketers to help them prioritize in the coming year. They surveyed over 1500 marketers globally and provided critical insights, strategic recommendations, and best practices for digital marketing success.
|Digital Marketing Tactic||Description|
|1||Crafting Content: The Digital Fuel||Focus on content creation, the fuel that powers all digital marketing.|
|2||Social Media: The Engagement Epicenter||Emphasis on social media as the primary approach to digital marketing.|
|3||SEO: Unlocking Organic Visibility||Importance of SEO in improving organic search rankings.|
|4||ABM: Personalized B2B Mastery||Highlighting ABM as a marketing tactic for B2B brands.|
|5||Paid Social: Amplifying Your Voice||The role of paid social media in promoting content.|
|6||Demand Gen: Sparking Consumer Interest||Importance of demand-generation marketing programs.|
|7||Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, Delight||Emphasis on inbound marketing to attract and engage customers.|
|8||TV Ads: Classic Yet Impactful||Role of TV ads in reaching consumers, especially during the pandemic.|
|9||Trade Shows: Face-to-Face Branding||Importance of trade shows and events for B2B and tech brands.|
|10||Out-of-Home: Capturing On-the-Go Attention||Highlighting out-of-home advertising, including billboards and posters.|
1. Crafting Content: The Digital Fuel
Almost 35% of marketers focused on content creation in 2021. This data point surprises me. Every digital marketing program needs to prioritize content. So I would expect this to be much higher than 35%.
What is content creation?
Yes, another dumb question, but it must be addressed. Content isn’t a digital marketing channel. It’s the fuel that powers everything. Content creation for digital marketing can be defined as developing and distributing digital assets across all channels. This can include creative campaigns, social creative, blog posts, infographics, video content, etc. Content must be well-written, informative, engaging, and creative to be effective. It must provide value to your customers, whether entertainment, news, education, or the availability of new products and services.
Again, all the content must be anchored in a strong narrative—the north star of your content strategy.
It should also target the right audience and distribute on the right digital media channels. The good news is that you can use performance analytics from previous campaigns to serve as benchmarks and inform future programs. Unfortunately, many people equate agile content development with content marketing. It’s related, but they aren’t the same thing.
According to the same report, over 60% of marketers used video as a primary form of media within their content strategy in 2021. This is a good thing. Short-form video on TikTok or Instagram is a no-brainer for the Gen Z audience. As stated earlier, long-form content, specifically video content on YouTube, has a shelf life of forever, as YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, right behind Google.
2. Social Media: The Engagement Epicenter
According to HubSpot, almost 70% of marketers surveyed said that social media was the primary approach to their digital marketing strategy in 2021. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Social media has been a channel for years to engage with customers, build brand advocacy, activate influencers, and tell brand stories.
What is social media marketing?
Yes, I know. Social media marketing creates engaging content in each channel that encourages action–audience growth, engagement, generating leads, and driving sales. However, social marketing must be carefully planned and executed to understand the target audience and the desired outcome to be effective.
Each social media platform must have a unique approach when launching your digital plan. The audiences are different, and each platform has unique features and functionalities. Selecting the media platforms that best reach the target audience is essential.
Once the platforms have been selected, the next step is to develop engaging content to encourage the audience to take action. The content might include blog posts, infographics, images, videos, or even just short status updates about what’s going on with the company or product. Monitoring and responding to user activity on each platform is also essential. Community management and social care can help build relationships with potential customers, create a brand reputation, and quickly solve customer complaints.
3. SEO: Unlocking Organic Visibility
According to HubSpot, 40% of marketers surveyed prioritize SEO as a part of their digital marketing strategy.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
SEO is the process of improving the ranking of a web page in the organic results of Google. The higher the ranking, the more likely people will find your content while researching online. Several factors contribute to a website’s ranking, including the quality of content, the number and authority of links to the site, and the age of the domain. SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field, and keeping up with the latest changes can be challenging. However, there are a few basic principles that remain constant.
The first is keyword research. Keywords are the terms that people use when searching for information on a given topic. By understanding which keywords are most popular, you can ensure that your website appears high in the search results. The second principle is that writing quality content needs to be a priority. A website with well-written, informative content and optimized metadata (title tags, description tags, H1 tags) will rank high on Google.
Finally, link building is important to achieve high search results on Google. Inbound links from high-quality websites signal to search engines that your site is also high-quality and should be ranked accordingly.
This is a massive miss for two reasons. First, Google is the gateway into the entire digital ecosystem. It is the home page for every consumer and B2B buyer. Second, the shelf life of long-form content lives forever in Google. SEO should be a staple in every marketing strategy. 40% isn’t high enough.
4. ABM: Personalized B2B Mastery
Almost 40% of marketers prioritized ABM or account-based marketing in their 2021 strategy. ABM is a marketing tactic for B2B brands and involves a strategic partnership between marketing and sales teams. They create customized programs and target accounts through personalized content, email, digital activation, and thought leadership.
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B marketing and requires you to tailor your marketing efforts to a select group of high-value accounts. ABM aims to generate more revenue from these accounts by working closely with them to develop customized solutions that meet their needs.
ABM departs from traditional marketing techniques, which typically take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, with ABM, each account is treated as an individual market, and the marketing strategy is designed specifically for that account. This approach requires a deep understanding of the account’s business objectives, challenges, and decision-makers.
ABM programs are usually implemented by sales and marketing teams working collaboratively. The sales team provides insights into the account’s needs, while the marketing team creates personalized content and messages that speak directly to those needs. The goal is to create a seamless experience for the customer that builds trust and leads to more business.
While ABM requires a more significant investment of time and resources than traditional marketing, the payoff can be substantial. For example, studies have shown that ABM programs deliver ten times higher ROI than general awareness campaigns.
ABM is not easy. It takes patience and requires strong collaboration internally. ABM will not be successful without these two characteristics. It’s also important to note that ABM can be integrated with more prominent influencer and thought leadership campaigns. A few ABM case studies from brands like Snowflake and GumGum used ABM successfully.
5. Paid Social: Amplifying Your Voice
Under 30% of marketers surveyed were focused on buying targeted social ads in their digital marketing. Posting social media content organically wastes time, energy, and budget. Organic reach is less than 1%.
What is paid social media?
Paid social media is promoting a product or service on social media platforms. This can be in boosted posts on Facebook, sponsored tweets on Twitter, or LinkedIn ads. The benefit of using paid social media is that you can target your audiences at the most granular level, increasing their chances of seeing and engaging with the content.
Paid social media can be an extremely effective way to reach new consumers, but it is essential to use it wisely. Overuse of paid social media can lead to audience fatigue, and the performance of your ads will decline.
I’m glad that marketing and communications teams are allocating a budget for paid social. Teams use it outside demand generation programs to create awareness and consideration or amplify creator content. However, just because marketers promote content doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform. The content itself must tell a story and drive action simultaneously.
6. Demand Gen: Sparking Consumer Interest
Over 20% of marketers prioritized demand-generation marketing programs in 2021. HubSpot refers to this as “generating referrals.” I call it Demand Gen.
What is demand generation marketing?
At its simplest, demand-gen marketing generates interest in a product, service, or technology to create audience demand. However, there are various ways to generate demand. As stated, “demand gen marketing” can refer to various activities, from content marketing and lead generation to email marketing and ABM.
In the same report, marketers cited Facebook as the top social media channel to see the best ROI. I want to double-click on this data point to see how these marketers defined ROI. Understanding whether these marketers worked for a B2B or consumer brand would also be nice. The data would tell a different story if these business verticals segmented the survey.
7. Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, Delight
Less than 20% of marketers surveyed were focused on inbound marketing in 2021.
What is inbound marketing?
Hubspot invented the term “inbound marketing.” It describes a marketing strategy focusing on attracting customers rather than actively seeking them out. Inbound marketing aims to create relationships with potential customers and build trust and credibility.
By providing relevant and valuable information, you can attract customers who are already interested in the product or services that you are selling. Once a customer is engaged, your goal is to convert them into paying customers. You can turn one-time buyers into lifelong fans by nurturing the relationship and providing excellent customer service. But, of course, you need to have a good product too.
I am not a fan of using inbound marketing as a term, and I don’t think adding that as a survey question makes sense. Inbound marketing is a modern way of saying “pull marketing,” which creates unique digital and content experiences to pull customers into a branded ecosystem.
8. TV Ads: Classic Yet Impactful
About 20% of marketers surveyed were focused on buying TV ads in 2021. This makes sense, given that most of the world worked from home. We’ll see how much this will change in 2022. What’s missing in the report is OTT advertising.
Buying media on television is self-explanatory. It’s a commercial. This has always been a powerful way to reach consumers. The most popular form of TV advertising has always been a Super Bowl commercial. Most creative teams strive to create and produce a 30-second spot during halftime for bragging rights.
There are various formats that TV commercials can take, from traditional 30-second spots to longer infomercials. If you are a night owl like me, you’ve probably noticed Chuck Norris infomercials selling various exercise and workout equipment. I’ve purchased many of these products.
OTT advertising is taking over
OTT stands for “Over the Top” and refers to any streaming service that delivers ads over the internet. It’s also known as streaming TV ads, and if you are a subscriber to Hulu or Peacock, you are familiar with these ads.
OTT refers explicitly to delivering content over the internet to consumer-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and streaming media players like Roku. Advertisers and marketers use OTT platforms to reach their target consumers with video ads played before, during, or after viewing the main video content.
The OTT ecosystem comprises several stakeholders: content creators, distributors, media companies, tech platforms, and digital agencies. The key advantages of OTT advertising are its potential to reach a large audience with targeted messaging and its ability to generate real-time feedback that can optimize future digital marketing strategies and campaigns.
9. Trade Shows: Face-to-Face Branding
About 15% of marketers surveyed were focused on trade shows in 2021. It makes sense that this number is also low, given that there weren’t many trade shows in 2021.
Trade shows and events are critical for B2B and tech brands. For many, it’s the one event where the sales pipeline is filled with new leads for a given quarter.
Trade shows and customer events allow you to showcase your products and services to existing customers or new prospects. Trade shows are usually organized around a particular industry or theme. As a result, they tend to attract attendees interested in that specific subject, like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, SXSW in Austin, or the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society HIMSS conference.
Customer events are more focused on the business. The most famous customer event is Dreamforce, which typically takes over the entire city of San Francisco for several days. In addition, most B2B and technology companies have annual customer conferences to showcase and demo new products and interact with high-profile customers.
10. Out-of-Home: Capturing On-the-Go Attention
About 15 % of marketers surveyed were focused on buying media out of the home. This includes billboards, posters, bus stops, and anything “out-of-home.”
What is out-of-home advertising?
Out-of-home advertising is a type of marketing that exists in the physical world and is not confined to electronic screens, although that is changing with digital billboards. This could include anything from billboards to bus stops and flyers to façades. It’s one of the oldest forms of advertising, and its history can be traced back to ancient civilizations that used wall paintings and stone carvings to communicate messages.
More recently, out-of-home advertising has evolved into a highly sophisticated industry that uses cutting-edge technology to create dynamic and interactive experiences.
More Considerations of Integrated Digital Marketing
The ten digital marketing tactics covered are the basics and should be included in all plans. However, there’s more to consider. For example, the emergence of the metaverse opens up new opportunities for marketing in virtual reality. In addition, influencer marketing has become increasingly popular and effective only if done correctly. And, of course, analytics plays a critical role in understanding what’s working and not so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
The Metaverse Brings New Digital Marketing Opportunities
As technology evolves, new media platforms and digital channels are constantly emerging. One of the most promising new channels is the metaverse, a virtual world that offers possibilities for brand engagement. While the metaverse is still in its early stages, it has already shown immense potential as a digital marketing platform.
For example, you can create virtual experiences that allow customers to interact with your brand in new ways. In addition, the metaverse offers unprecedented data collection and analysis, providing marketers with valuable insights into customer behavior. As the metaverse for business matures, it will become an increasingly important part of a digital marketing strategy.
The Continued Power of Influencer Marketing
In an age of ad fatigue and declining trust in brands, influencer marketing remains a powerful option for cutting through the noise. Leading consumer, B2B, and healthcare brands spend millions annually collaborating with influential third-party creators to develop integrated campaigns and content.
While specific strategies differ across industries, the fundamentals are consistent. The right influencer partnerships allow brands to tap into existing online communities and credibility. Instead of interrupting consumers with promotional messages, brands can craft stories and experiences that entertain and engage.
Data shows the impact is real. 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or celebrity endorsement. Influencer content also generates 11X higher ROI than other forms of digital marketing.
But not all influencer programs deliver. Success requires meticulous vetting to find creators who authentically align with your brand and content. Campaigns must strategically activate influencers across multiple platforms and formats using a mix of assets ranging from long-form videos to Instagram stories and TikTok duets.
Monitoring campaign performance is crucial for optimization and calculating true ROI. Track impressions, engagement, conversions, and sentiment across partner channels. These insights inform ongoing relationship management and future influencer deals.
Influencer marketing thrives because it fills a human need – the desire for connection. Audiences follow creators who entertain them, inspire them, and make them feel part of a community. Done right, brands become part of that community. But it takes strategic vision and flawless execution. Half-measures lead to lackluster results and wasted budgets.
When executed correctly, though, influencers provide unparalleled awareness, credibility, and relevance. This strategy remains a must-have program for digitally savvy brands across every industry.
Data, Analytics, and Consumer Insights
Data is a brand’s most valuable asset in today’s hyper-competitive digital landscape. Sophisticated companies recognize that success requires harnessing analytics to unlock deep consumer insights and optimize engagement.
The building blocks come from information most brands already possess – CRM data, web analytics, social listening, sales records, and more. But data alone provides little value. True competitive advantage stems from the analysis that reveals subtle patterns, surfaces non-intuitive connections and allows granular personalization.
Investing in advanced analytics pays dividends across functions. Marketing understands customer journeys precisely, pinpoints high-value segments, and refines targeting for increased conversions. Product teams uncover unmet needs to guide enhancement and innovation. Customer support anticipates problems before they arise and resolves issues quickly when they do.
Equally important is creating a culture that encourages data-driven decision-making at all levels. Making information accessible democratizes insight, while data literacy training ensures it is put to optimal use.
The benefits are profound. Leaders who harness analytics gain a unique audience and market insights their rivals cannot match. They identify emerging trends early, react quickly, and continuously optimize performance. Over time, an analytics advantage becomes a competitive moat, allowing brands to outmaneuver rivals and deepen customer loyalty.
Of course, care must be taken to use data ethically and protect privacy. But done right, analytics unlocks immense strategic value. The lesson is clear – winning brands don’t just collect data in today’s marketplace. They fluently speak its language. With mastery comes market dominance.
The importance of an integrated digital marketing plan includes understanding the audience, crafting a compelling brand narrative, using the PESO model, aligning marketing with business outcomes, and leveraging emerging platforms.
A digital marketing plan should be holistic and integrated, aligning all brand messaging, campaigns, and programs into one cohesive story. It should consider the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, audience definition, messaging, budget, and available resources. The plan should also be flexible to adapt to the ever-changing digital ecosystem.
Integrated digital marketing ensures that the audience receives repetitive and consistent campaign messaging. It helps brands reach a wider audience, build brand awareness and reputation, generate leads, and improve customer loyalty and retention.
Brands should deeply dive into audience relevance, understanding their demographics, interests, needs, pain points, motivations, and online behaviors. This knowledge forms the foundation for creating effective buyer personas.
A brand narrative is a story that captures the essence of a brand and its purpose. It answers questions like “Who are you?”, “What do you stand for?”, and “Why should others care?”. This narrative is a guiding star for all digital marketing efforts, establishing an emotional connection with the audience.
The PESO model segments digital marketing activities across Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media channels. It provides a comprehensive framework for reaching audiences across various channels, ensuring a well-rounded approach.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, improves the ranking of a web page in organic search results. A higher ranking increases the likelihood of people finding your content. SEO involves keyword research, quality content creation, and link building to achieve high search results.
Trade shows and events are essential for B2B and tech brands. They provide an opportunity to showcase products and services to existing and potential customers. These events are crucial for filling the sales pipeline with new leads and establishing face-to-face branding opportunities.