The Essentials-Only Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications

Daniel Wenderoth

Centralizing and standardizing the core operations of your business is a great way to simplify processes and increase productivity while protecting your margins. For example, you might already have implemented some form of CRM integration, but have you considered going beyond that? If you have, then integrated marketing communications are the solution for you.

Integrated marketing communications: What is it?

The expression “integrated marketing communications” often abbreviated using the acronym IMC, refers to the process by which a brand unifies all its messaging across the different media channels that it uses. It does this to reach and communicate with its target audience, whether that audience is American, Australian, or European. 

This strategic approach is essential to help you keep your marketing messaging clear, consistent, and compelling, regardless of which channel you choose.

Why is IMC important?

Most successful brands today do not use one single tool or channel to interact with their customers. They might, in fact, combine several different channels in order to reach out to a wider audience. These channels can include social media, blogs, web content, videos, online podcasts, email, and much more.

And while having a strong presence across all these different platforms can help a brand skyrocket its success, it can also generate fresh challenges. The main one? Making sure that all messaging stays coherent and consistent throughout.

This is why integrated marketing communications is such an important process to implement - it’s an ongoing strategy that enables brands to achieve continuous engagement, productivity, and profitability.

The focus of IMC is on the customers. Whenever you create specific marketing content to promote on specific channels, you must keep your customers in mind. What do customers using email, for example, want and expect from your brand? And how about those who prefer to communicate through social media? Once you have addressed these (potentially very different) needs and expectations, you will need to go one step further by making sure that you never go off-brand. This is not always easy, but with a few, actionable tips you can accomplish it.

The four types of integrated marketing communications

There are four different types of integrated marketing communications strategies – let’s examine each one of them below.

  • Internal IMC - Internal IMC refers to integrations built within your internal team. Before you start, you’ll need to get your team’s approval – and excited participation – on the project. Only after this step has been completed, will you be able to move ahead with external IMC.
  • External IMC - After you have gotten everyone on board, you can finally step outside of your organization and extend your integrations to your outside sources. These may include your partners, vendors, consultants, PR agents, and more.
  • Horizontal IMC - This type of IMC indicates the process that a brand embarks on when it is developing and launching a new product or service. For example, at this stage a company may look at buying domain names that reflect their existing brand identity and can be used to promote the new service or product.
  • Vertical IMC - Lastly, vertical IMC helps you to make sure that all your new products and services are entirely on-brand, and that they match your company’s values, vision, and mission.

Top IMC benefits for organizations

Now that we have clarified what IMC is, why it’s important, and what the main types of IMC strategies are, we can reveal some of the most impressive benefits that organizations can reap by implementing an IMC strategy.

1. It helps with product visibility

One of the most important benefits that IMC can generate is a boost in your product visibility. This happens because you’ll be using lots of different channels to promote your offering, which in turn allows you to reach out to a larger audience across several platforms.

2. It increases consistency in the customer journey

In digital marketing, creating an exceptional customer journey is essential to success. And how do you do that? By carefully curating each different touchpoint of the entire journey – from start to finish, and everything in between.

IMC enables you to craft the right type of content across all customer journey touchpoints, and ensure that the entire process is smooth, valuable, and profitable.

3. It supports effective branding

By now, it should be clear that integrated marketing communications are crucial to strengthening your brand identity. But how does this happen, in practice? Well, consider all the different elements that constitute a brand:

  • Logo
  • Name
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Tone of voice
  • Visuals
  • Typography

In order to establish your company as a unique, successful, and memorable brand, you must ensure that all these items remain consistent across all your sales and marketing communications. Regardless of whether you are creating an email campaign, launching an Instagram Live video to promote Instagram growth, posting a blog, or anything else, you need for all these elements to be present in a way that your audience can recognize as quintessentially “yours”.

An effective IMC strategy guarantees that this will happen every time, on every platform, and within every interaction with your target customers.

4. It enhances marketing campaign success

Perhaps, you have spent a long time building an extensive marketing contacts database. But how do you ensure that those contacts are, in fact, turning into paying customers? Once again, IMC can help.

IMC allows you to better segment your audience and craft specific content that addresses their needs and expectations. As a result, an IMC strategy hugely supports the success of your marketing campaigns by making them a lot more targeted, relevant, and effective.

How to build an ultra-effective integrated marketing communications strategy

If you think that designing, developing, and delivering an integrated marketing campaign is similar to what you would do with an email or social media marketing campaign, then you might need to think again. Unlike a single campaign, IMC is not a one-off effort, and the whole process can be a little longer and more complex.

This is because you have to take into consideration all the different channels that you want to integrate. The more channels you aim to use, the more complicated the strategy.

IMC is so personalized to each brand that it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all set of tips and suggestions. However, there are some key techniques and tactics that you can always apply, and we’ll look at them here.

1. Make sure everyone is on board

Internal communication is essential in marketing. Make sure that all the relevant people are on board, and that the campaign is aligned across all the different departments involved. This might involve adding new training sessions, or additional one-on-ones to check everyone understands their role.

2. Identify your leaders

Smart, effective, and efficient people management is another crucial aspect when implementing an IMC strategy. This means choosing who, within the different teams involved in your IMC project, will be a leading character.

In some cases, this might be very easy to establish, whereas in others you might need to consult with your team members and, in a concerted effort, elect the person that you all think best suits this role.

3. Establish SMART goals

Having a clear set of goals that your different teams and department work towards is vital, but how do you establish those goals in the first place? Using the SMART approach almost never fails. To this effect, you will need your goals to be:

  • Specific: choose a goal that is simple, easily identifiable, and shared by your whole team
  • Measurable: your goal should be easy to measure, either using KPIs or other metrics
  • Achievable: do not establish a goal that feels too out of reach, or you’ll risk losing the enthusiasm and motivation of your team members
  • Relevant: your goal should be pertinent to your company and your goals
  • Time-bound: have a clear deadline in mind in order to boost your team’s commitment and engagement

Make sure you have effective email communication in place so all team members are kept informed of all goals and any changes to them.

4. Set up a clear workflow

Having a clear, reliable, and repeatable workflow in place is another essential step in your IMC journey. To achieve this, you need to make sure that your core apps and systems are centralized and integrated, and a tool such as SAP Business One integrations can help with that.

If you haven’t already, take a step back and look at your standard operating procedures (SOPs). The clearer these are, the easier it is to implement an efficient workflow.

5. Be open to changes

Similarly to other tactics such as email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing, IMC is not an exact science, and will likely not always generate the exact same results regardless of whether or not you (think) you are applying the same principles each time.

This, therefore, requires you to be very open-minded and prepare yourself to deal with changes – sometimes quite abrupt ones – as well as setbacks and other complex challenges. The crucial thing is to ensure all your team members are on board, motivated, and productive, and that you maintain the focus on delivering marketing content that stays on-brand across your different channels.

Having set SMART goals, you’ll have clear ways to measure progress and success through specific communications metrics. By reviewing them periodically you can make sure your IMC strategy is actually delivering.

Smash your targets with a solid IMC Strategy

To ensure that your brand remains competitive, attractive, and successful across all the different platforms where it has a presence, it’s essential that you put in place an integrated marketing communications strategy.

With an IMC, you will be able to boost customer trust and loyalty, support your brand identity, and create an exceptional customer journey.

Daniel Wenderoth

Daniel is our in-house SEO guru in OnlyDomains, a leading web hosting and domain registrar company based in sunny Napier, New Zealand that helps entrepreneurs and business owners achieve online branding success.

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