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Understanding the importance of integrated marketing communications in retail

In today’s climate, integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a standard, baseline, foundational strategy for retail success. Most retailers, from the mom-and-pop boutiques downtown to the household names in the mall, use integrated marketing to reach customers across various media platforms. Yet, even though IMC is a clearly-established best practice, it’s not often well executed by small and large retailers alike.

The problem is, many retailers still hold onto the idea that specialization—separating out the marketing channels between several specialized companies—will bring better results. Yet many fail to get all of their partners on the same page to produce consistently integrated marketing campaigns. They never truly achieve the level of cohesion that an IMC approach might suggest. 

If your business is struggling to make the shift toward fully integrated marketing, consider the following benefits. The importance of integrated marketing communications is most evident when you realize all there is to gain. 

The Importance of Integrated Marketing Communications in 4 Key Benefits

 

1. Consistent Messaging: The number one benefit of IMC is the ultimate goal of the approach: consistent, coherent marketing communications. You can provide each vendor with your brand style guide and let them run with it, but unless you take the steps necessary to align your marketing efforts into streamlined, integrated campaigns, you won’t actually achieve consistency. Your campaign message will come across differently on Facebook versus in a local magazine or an online video ad.

With increased dedication to the principles of IMC, you’ll finally achieve the consistency that contributes positively to your brand identity as a whole. Your target customers will notice the subtle difference when you’re finally sending the same message across all platforms, and unconsciously assign a higher reputation to your name. No matter which competitive marketing strategies you’re currently using, consistency is key—and IMC can help you get there.

With increased dedication to the principles of IMC, you’ll finally achieve the consistency that contributes positively to your brand identity as a whole.

2. Improved Brand Visibility: The goal of every marketing activity is increased visibility. Integrated marketing communications amplify the visibility you gain from any one marketing channel and multiply the effectiveness of all marketing efforts across the board. How many touch points does it take to get to total brand recognition across your target demographic? We may never know. But with IMC, you can get a whole lot closer to the ideal repetitive frequency.

Imagine it takes seven touchpoints before a customer converts and purchases your newly advertised product. In a traditional marketing atmosphere, the customer might see an advertisement for your product in a magazine, flip past a separate catalog-style ad in a store’s weekly circular, and scroll past an image of the product on social media. With IMC, they would see the exact same images, color scheme, and catchphrase across all of those platforms. The next time someone mentions your brand, they’re far more likely to think “I heard they were releasing a new product.” 

3. Eliminated Redundancies: Marketing is a well of expenses that never runs dry. You could literally spend an unlimited amount of money on marketing initiatives with no end in sight—and many companies throw money at the marketing team as if more spend allocation will equal more success. This is not always the case. The IMC approach encourages companies to eliminate redundancies in their brand marketing strategy and rely on coordination rather than increasing costs. 

the importance of integrated marketing communicationsBetween traditional advertising, PR, social media, in-store marketing, and retail rewards programs like Shopkick, there is an astronomical amount of content needed. Content creation requires the most resources of any marketing activity. Content circulation and syndication, however, are far more cost-effective—and more lucrative. By reducing the number of point sources for content creation, your company has thousands of dollars to save. You’ll reduce agency costs as well as the human costs associated with managing all of your vendor partnerships. 

4. Higher ROI: Increasing results and decreasing costs automatically leads to a higher ROI for any marketing campaign, and ROI is a bigger concern in today’s media market than ever before. Most retailers can no longer afford to launch individual campaigns across every new media channel. Retailers are forced to pick and choose which marketing channels are worth the spend, and which work best for their particular target market segments. 

Integrated marketing communications allow your company to A/B test with far more accuracy and far fewer costs. By running the same ads across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for instance, you can measure customer engagement more objectively and judge which platforms deserve unique content first, and which can broadcast repurposed content. This more holistic approach to marketing has the potential to produce maximum impact on both your budget and your bottom line. 

Combining Omnichannel Marketing With Omnichannel Retail

Most retailers have the omnichannel concept down to a science. Your company might offer products in brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops, online, and through your own shopping apps. Combining the omnichannel retail approach with an integrated omnichannel marketing strategy will only help to increase your market share and make both endeavors more successful. 

Streamline the number of outside agencies you rely on for marketing services, or double down on making sure they’re all collaborating on cohesive messaging and strategy—then use cohesive content across all retail channels. When the same campaign themes are echoing from everywhere they look, your customers are going to be far more likely to turn to your company when they need products in your category. 

Shopkick is an innovative shopping app that helps drive traffic and engagement in an omnichannel world. Our partners use Shopkick in tandem with integrated marketing communications to improve brand affinity and increase their repeat business. Contact us to learn how apps like Shopkick can help your business reap the rewards of consistent integration across marketing and retail platforms. 

Image courtesy of Stokkete