Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

What Is Integrated Marketing & Why Does It Matter?

Gavin Flood

Senior Director for International Marketing @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

Today’s marketers are facing a complex and fragmented landscape. With the influx of different markets, channels, and products, consumers are becoming desensitized by the constant exposure of ads. So, how do companies — particularly direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands — break through the noise? How can they engage new customers, while also saving time and money? After all, not every business has the means to spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on multiple marketing channels to reach their target audience. The answer is with integrated marketing. 

Let’s further explore what integrated marketing means, why it’s beneficial for your company, and a couple of brands that are doing it really well.

What’s Integrated Marketing?

A graphic explaining the definition of integrated marketing

Integrated marketing is the process of unifying all aspects of marketing communication — such as advertising, PR, and social media — and using their respective mix of media, channels, and tactics to deliver a seamless and customer-centric experience. In practice, that means having a consistent look, feel, and tone to your message across all the channels you use. Integrated marketing approaches can be especially beneficial for ecommerce marketing campaigns.

Integrated Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing vs. Omnichannel Marketing

You may be wondering, “What’s the difference between integrated marketing and omnichannel marketing? Aren’t they both used to deliver consistency?” The answer is yes, but in different ways. 

Omnichannel marketing is more focused on customer experience — it blends various communication channels to provide a seamless customer interaction with a brand. This can mean using an app when you’re in line at Starbucks to purchase your morning cup of coffee or taking advantage of Sephora’s in-store beauty workshops.

Integrated marketing is more focused on the message — it’s about seamlessly integrating everything from ads and sales promotions to PR and social media to target customers. For instance, Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign was created in 2010 and continues to run across social, television, retail, and print. Although the execution changes across different media and markets, the central theme (that when you’re hungry, your mood transforms you into a different person — literally), remains the same.

It’s important to note that while they’re separate marketing activities, omnichannel and integrated marketing work best together. It’d be a lost opportunity to solely focus on a customer’s multi-dimensional brand experience and not their shopping experience, or vice versa. 

Multichannel marketing is also a common approach to marketing. Multichannel marketing means simply that: a strategy that uses multiple channels to execute. Where this differs from integrated marketing is the lack of consistency in messaging and offers across those channels, as well as a different experience with in-person interactions and messaging that you’d get with omnichannel marketing. 

How Integrated Marketing Works

Integrated marketing works by creating a consistent message and experience across channels, increasing the likelihood of a conversion. It works because:

  • More channels = more eyes to see your messaging. 

  • Repetition helps keep your brand top of mind. 

  • You gain authority by being available on every channel your customers are on.

In the end, showing up more often across a variety of channels is the ultimate benefit to brands who embrace integrated marketing. 

A classic and simple example that demonstrates how integrated marketing works is Budweiser’s iconic “Wassup” campaign, first breaking ground in 2000 during Super Bowl XXXIV. The TV commercial featured a group of friends drinking beer and watching a football game while repeatedly yelling “Wassup!”, which then became an inescapable catchphrase used across pop culture and the public. 

The ad was one of the first to direct viewers to a website (an integrated marketing tactic that is now standard practice), where they were taught how to say “wassup” in 36 different languages. By extending the campaign from TV to a website, Budweiser was able to delight viewers with another layer of its beloved messaging, build upon the success of the commercial, and drive massive amounts of online traffic. In fact, the campaign was so successful that Budweiser recreated the original TV spots in 2018 and 2020 for additional waves of publicity. 

Why Should Your Business Use Integrated Marketing?

The power of integrated marketing is unmatched. Research has shown that integrated campaigns across more than four channels can outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by a staggering 300%. Here are a few reasons why:

  • You receive better results. When you combine communication tools and messaging, marketing effectiveness bolsters. The more a customer’s journey is unified, deliberate, and focused, the higher the likelihood of a sale and brand loyalty.  

  • You leave your mark. You can build better brand awareness when you’re consistent with graphics, headlines, and key phrases across different media and platforms. Creative consistency helps reinforce campaign themes by increasing the number of times prospects see or hear the same message. 

  • You save money. When you focus on a single message, you don’t just cut costs on creating campaigns — you also prevent budget-wasting that results from inconsistent campaigns. 

Where to Begin With Your Integrated Marketing Strategy

Integrated marketing isn’t just about splashing similar ads across different channels. Success depends on how well you connect with your audience and how well you adapt your message for each marketing platform. It’s about telling a consistent story to elicit emotions from your customers. 

So, how do you begin building a successful integrated marketing campaign? How do you keep things consistent while also preventing your customers from getting bored? Here are a few ways to kickstart your integrated marketing strategy: 

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When it comes to business, EQ trumps IQ. Before developing any campaigns, you have to first answer, “What’s important to my customers?” Think about how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier.

  • Come up with a compelling idea. Successful integrated marketing campaigns have one thing in common: They center around interesting ideas. Start by figuring out what sets you apart from the competition. From there, you can begin brainstorming ways to weave a (funny? touching? exhilarating?) story around your key differentiators. 

  • Align your compelling idea with your brand values. Your compelling idea should exist in tandem with your brand values — what’s your ultimate mission? Is it to provide reasonable prices? Exceptional design? Is it a combination of both? 

  • Leverage the advantages of different platforms. Use content that plays to the strengths of different channels, tied together by your compelling idea. 

A Brilliant Idea From the Gecko

As previously mentioned, a memorable integrated marketing campaign goes far beyond using the same tagline or color palette across every marketing channel. It should construct a coherent look and story that ties back to your brand values. Let’s go through an example of an excellent integrated marketing campaign.

You’ve probably seen or heard of GEICO’s sassy gecko. The original commercial features the gecko climbing onto a podium and muttering, “This is my final plea: I’m a gecko, not to be confused with GEICO, which could save you hundreds on car insurance. So, stop calling me!” 

The “big” idea centers around humor — the company wanted to poke fun at how “GEICO” is often mispronounced as “gecko.” They then modeled the gecko’s personality to match GEICO’s brand values for excellent customer service: The gecko is “constantly cheery,” with a “natural tenacity,” and an “insatiable need to engage with people."

Since the gecko’s introduction, GEICO has integrated him into countless commercials and print ads. While they all center around the gecko, the focus on the central theme — “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” — remains the same. The gecko even boasts his own social media pages, line of merchandise, and has “written” an autobiography.

The level of consistency of GEICO’s integrated marketing campaigns has proved beneficial. According to Forbes, over the past several years, “Geico’s impression score — which asks respondents if they have an overall positive or negative impression of a particular brand — has improved at a rate about twice as fast as the home and auto insurance industry as a whole.”

Getting Started With Integrated Marketing

If you’re ready to bring your integrated marketing strategy to life, here are a few tools and tactics to keep in mind: 

1. Audience segmentation and targeting. Shoppers at different points of the customer journey require unique marketing materials to move them along the marketing funnel. This is where smart segmentation comes in. With AdRoll’s audience targeting and retargeting solution, you can define and target your audience based on lookalike algorithms, their demographics and interests, or the context of the websites they visit, all while making sure viewers are receiving consistent integrated marketing messages. 

2. Cross-channel campaign management. If you have a dozen subscription accounts tackling different channels — including email marketing, ads, and social media — integrated marketing starts to become a time-sucking endeavor. An integrated marketing solution like AdRoll changes that. Features such as AdRoll’s Marketing Recipes save you time with a guided process to reach your audience with cross-channel campaigns. 

3. Cross-channel performance tracking. Similarly, it can be nearly impossible to track your performance across channels on their individual analytics dashboards in a way that accurately accounts for overlap. After all, shoppers now experience dozens of touchpoints before converting. AdRoll’s Cross-Channel Performance Dashboard not only takes all your data and unifies it into one manageable dashboard, it also maps that data onto your chosen attribution model.

Strengthen Your Integrated Strategy

Get ideas, resources, and more in our content below to make the most of your strategy.

Ready to execute your integrated marketing strategy? Get started with AdRoll now.

Explore Next

Topics Covered: