We live in a world where people seamlessly integrate digital technology into their everyday lives in a way that brings together the worlds of communications, entertainment, commerce and more.
This enables companies to engage, interact with and target people in countless ways that were impossible in the offline era. Moreover, the footprint people leave behind them in these digital journeys is a treasure trove of deep, data-driven insights into what makes them engage with brands and buy products. These insights can enable us to better understand people and to engage and communicate with them more effectively.
There is a caveat, however.
People adopt whichever communications channels, social networks and e-commerce platforms satisfy their wants, needs and aspirations. But they are ruthless about ditching anything that falls short of satisfying them.
Brands need to be as agile as the people they follow in the digital world — in reality most of them are playing catch-up with consumer behaviour. But there is one word to focus on if you want a fighting chance of keeping up with consumers and remaining relevant to them — integration.
Simply put, integration means bringing together all of your marketing, sales, communications and promotional technologies, tools, channels and analytics so they work together seamlessly.
On the surface, this appears to be a technological problem that should be fairly simple to fix as long as you can find the right tools to use. In reality, it is largely a human issue. That’s because the technologies, channels and platforms are owned and influenced by different people in different teams across different departments. This often leads to the rise of a four-letter word that is the nemesis of effective collaboration — silo.
Face this issue head-on from the start. When developing your integration strategy start with why it is being done, how the process will work and how it will affect the way things are currently done and what it will deliver. Get your messaging on point and communicate, engage with and listen to your people. Help them understand and manage the change. Show them how integration will improve the way they work and the experience they ultimately deliver to people who engage with the brand.
Keep this issue front-of-mind when developing your integration strategy, which should cover three key areas:
Integrating how you use data
As consumers continue to engage with multiple touchpoints, brands should follow suit by allowing relevant teams to access the brand's different assets. Touchpoints should no longer be constrained by outdated tribalism where a particular team or division claims full ownership of them.
Integrating how you use data
Businesses produce more data every day. If you only look at data created by your specific campaigns and platforms, you will miss out on the bigger story and deeper insights that an integrated, holistic view could provide.
To prevent such a restricted view, draw on datasets from other sources across the organisation and its partners — such as leveraging CRM insights to pinpoint your next conversion campaign, or consolidating social listening data to update your customer service FAQs.
Businesses often have different stories and voices across each of their digital channels. If this is not done in an integrated way, it can result in inconsistent messaging that dilutes the core brand narrative and confuses consumers.
Make sure all of your messaging is consistent with the overarching brand story and remains true to its purpose. Tone and style can be tailored to the needs of specific audiences across your network, but they must not detract from the core message.
Taking a holistic view of all communications and seeing how they can integrate enables you to get them to work together in concert and contribute to a more powerful overarching brand narrative.
Integrating multiple touchpoints, datasets and messaging can strengthen your brand by enhancing your insights, delivering better outputs for your campaigns and, most importantly, ensuring your continually satisfy your consumers.
Make this a key focus this year and you will reap the rewards.