5 Components of a Successful Integrated Marketing Strategy

Debra Ellis President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Posted on September 7th 2011

Saying that integrating multiple channels and platforms can be challenging is an understatement. Most companies don’t have the tools or technology to have a completely integrated strategy. Buying or developing them is cost prohibitive because there are so many nuances that don’t deliver a return on investment.

Not having an integrated strategy can be costly too. Revenue is lost when customers don’t buy because there was a disconnect between marketing and sales. Costs are escalated when there is a breakdown between marketing and service. Finding the right balance of integration benefits both company and customer. Here are the top five components of an integrated marketing strategy:

Customer Focus – Successful marketing strategies start and end with customers. The need to make customers a top priority is well known but rarely executed because marketing glory isn’t won by keeping customers. Acquisition, awards, and viral campaigns get attention but they seldom increase profitability. Acquisition adds growth opportunity. Awards provide recognition. And viral campaigns create drama. But the bulk of the money that contributes to the company’s longevity comes from loyal customers.

Marketing to established customers costs less and generates more revenue. These people know and trust your business so they don’t need a hard sell to get the order. Design your primary marketing strategy around them. Find out how and where they want to connect with you and make it easy for them to do it.

Interdepartmental Cooperation – Contrary to popular opinion, good communication between departments isn’t enough to make integrated marketing work well. Departments have to work together. Communication is important but the commitment to do whatever it takes to resolve issues is vital.

The relationship between marketing, sales, and customer care is often adversarial. Legacy issues haunt current managers. Reaching out to the other teams to create a better working environment and customer experience is the first step. The process of changing from segregated to integrated is hard, but worth the effort. It improves everything from morale to profitability.

Database Communication – Every company has multiple databases filled with valuable and extraneous information. Digging through raw data to find nuggets of actionable information is not fun (at least for most folks) but it can deliver phenomenal results. Trying to create a one-stop shop for all data needs is virtually impossible because multiple channels and departments have individual needs. The resources required to deliver the mega-database are extensive.

Instead of wasting time and money on developing a turn-key solution, create communication paths that allow the sharing of key information across platforms. Some will be automated, others will be manual. All will provide the information needed to successfully grow a profitable business.

Leverage – Each channel has unique strengths and weaknesses. Leveraging the strengths of one to offset the weaknesses of another improves effectiveness and reduces costs. The leverage process begins with an in-depth understanding of each channel, how your customers interact with it, and the associated costs.

Using the information found during the understanding phase, determine the best way to provide the marketing and service your customers expect with the channels that maximize your return on investment. Leverage requires due diligence and monitoring because channels are evolving quickly. Putting systems in place to measure the effectiveness saves time and money.

Return on Investment – Sustainable businesses require profitability. Generating a return on investment requires planning and focus. Every function, channel, and department has to deliver results that contribute to the financial well being of the company. The proceeding statements should be common knowledge for everyone managing a business or making recommendations. Unfortunately it isn’t. Somewhere between traditional and new media, people replaced “investment” with “influence”. Any activity that doesn’t improve relationships with paying customers, increase profits, or reduce costs is a waste of resources.

Including the expected return on investment in your strategy makes it a priority. When team members know that generating a return is a requirement, they think differently. There will be fewer recommendations to do things because everyone else is doing them and more “let’s do this because it benefits our company.”


Debra Ellis

President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Debra Ellis is a business consultant, author, and speaker. She specializes in showing companies how to improve customer acquisition and retention using integrated marketing and service strategies. Her latest marketing guide, 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, is a practical resource for marketers seeking better results with minimal investment. Her engineering background provides statistical insight to finding actionable data that can be used to grow companies and reduce costs.

She is recognized as an expert in marketing from direct mail to social media, customer behavior, and strategic planning. Her expertise is often tapped by media sources including: The New York Times, CNN/Money.com’s Small Business Makeovers, Target Marketing, Multichannel Merchant, and MarketingProfs.

Her marketing guides include 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, Social Media 4 Direct Marketers, and Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle.

Debra loves the art and science of multichannel marketing. She is a student and teacher of the methods that transform shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifelong customers. In 1995, she founded Wilson & Ellis Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in creating strategies that make channels and departments work together to optimize the customer experience. Since then, she has worked with over a hundred distinguished clients such as Costco, Edmund Scientifics, Jacuzzi, Ross-Simons Jewelry, and The Body Shop.

Prior to founding her firm, Debra was instrumental in the record growth of Ballard Designs, Inc. while serving as Chief Operating Officer. Today, she uses her experience and expertise to show executives how to successfully navigate marketing channels and integrate activities to profitably grow their business. Her practical approach maximizes the return on investment.

She can be reached via email at [email protected]. She blogs at http://multichannelmagic.com/blog

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Posted on September 7th 2011 at 4:07PM

I really like the point you make about keeping customers vs. aquiring customers.  There is so much focus on aquisition that long term service is often unacknoledged.  Sure the focus on sales may help fuel sales but you can have half the new customers who engage for twice as long and the results are the same.  Big sales followed by large turnover does more bad than good and tarnishes your brand and reputation.

Great article, Thanks


Posted on September 8th 2011 at 8:07AM

Very good and quality statements. I think that when we talk about successful marketing strategies it is very important to deliberate the internal relationship b/n the different departments in case to have better communication inside and outside.

Posted on September 8th 2011 at 10:46AM

Thank you George. You make an excellent point with "big sales followed by large turnover does more bad than good and tarnishes your brand and reputation."

Posted on March 15th 2012 at 4:21AM

This was really nice point of view. It's a common mistake that some companies made, they forget to keep their customers and focusing mostly on aquiring.