At Tunheim, we incorporate digital marketing strategies and tactics into every aspect of our strategic communications efforts on behalf of clients. Online communications are not a stand-alone consideration; it is a fundamental behavior that the audiences you care about use in reaction to all of your marketing efforts.
But before we examine how to integrate digital practices into your overall strategic communications, let’s align on the basic elements of integrated digital marketing.
What is Integrated Digital Marketing?
Integrated digital marketing is the practice of developing an online communications strategy that harnesses and harmonizes each digital marketing channel of importance to your target audience(s) in order to achieve an organization’s objectives.
9 Essential Elements of Integrated Digital Marketing
Let’s examine how each of the elements of digital marketing integrate.
1. Web Development & Design
Your website is the center of your digital universe. It is one of the few digital channels over which you have complete control.
It is the marketing asset that can attract the audiences that are important to you and it is the property to which you can direct those audiences from other channels.
Most imporantly, your website is the primary digital means by which you can create a direct relationship with those audiences by obtaining their email address or phone number.
2. Content Marketing
In 1996 Bill Gates declared “content is king.” The notion gets truer every year. Compelling content (however that is defined by your audience) is the currency of attention.
It is how you capture and maintain attention initially, how you add value and build trust continually, and how you earn loyalty perpetually.
3. Search Engine Optimization
Armed with a website to host your content and a plan to develop the content that will attract the audiences you care about, you need to ensure that content and your website are findable.
That’s where search engine optimization comes into play. By conducting keyword research on the search queries your audience is using, you can discover what content is important to them in relation to what you have to offer, what questions they want answered, and what problems they want solved.
That insight will inform what content you need to create and how it can be optimized for search engine visibility.
4. Local Business Listings
Securing and optimizing the business listings for your organization is always important, but especially so for those organizations that serve local area residents.
Whether you are a retail outlet with brick and mortar stores, a local nonprofit, or even a service business, local business listings are a primary way in which customers and clients find and evaluate your organization, discover contact information, and map directions to your location.
And, significantly, local business listings such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business are a go-to vehicle through which you can cultivate online reviews.
5. Social Media Marketing
Social media is the global water cooler. It is the place people hang out online to chat, gossip, share information, and learn about their world.
That water cooler may be of a professional nature, as in LinkedIn or it may be more focused on family and friends, as in Facebook. It could be aspirational, like Instagam or Pinterest. It could be for entertainment, as in YouTube or TikTok.
But regardless of the individual channel, social media is where you go to meet your audience where they’re at. It is where you can build awareness and trust and stay top of mind.
6. Digital Advertising
Digital advertising provides that quick boost to help you drive objectives sooner rather than later.
Whether you’re a startup with zero name recognition or a multinational with a new product to launch, digital advertising helps you reach your targeted audience when your timeline is short and your scale is large.
7. Email Marketing
With digital advertising, you’re buying access to your audience. With search and social media, you’re leasing access to your audience. Those platforms can change their algorithms at any time and often do, diminishing the reach of the following you’ve built there.
But email is how you own your audience; it is the vehicle through which you create a direct relationship to them. It is dependent upon no third-party algorithms, only your own ability to maintain that relationship.
8. App/Text Marketing
Like email, when someone installs your app or signs up for your text messaging service, they are creating a direct relationship with you because the process requires an email address or a phone number to work.
But unlike email, which people might check only a few times a day, mobile devices are people’s constant companions and therefore a 24/7/365 communication channel.
Therefore, use with consideration and caution.
9. Marketing Analytics
Finally, if you’re not measuring your efforts, what are you doing?!
Digital marketing analytics have come a long way since the brutal days of website log files.
Implemented properly, marketing analytics can both measure the effectiveness of your efforts and provide deep insight into consumer behavior.
Integrating Digital into Strategic Communications
Digital communications have never existed in a silo but the practice of digital marketing has often been treated as one.
Digital marketing is a consideration for every client plan. When you consider that people are more likely to either react online or leave a digital trace in reaction to a message they receive elsewhere, it makes zero sense not to try and connect those communication dots.
3 Ways to Integrate Digital into Traditional Marketing Communications
Let’s connect some dots.
1. Earned Media
One of the primary functions of a public relations firm is to build relationships with reporters in an effort to secure media coverage of a client, their company, or brand.
What is not well-known is that being merely cited by news media can be a signal to search engines that can help boost visibility of the spokesperson’s name, the company or brand in search results.
Even better – when we get a link from a news outlet to the client’s website.
Another consideration we incorporate into client plans is anticipating how the intended target of messages will react to them online. If our client is interviewed on television or radio, for example, interested viewers or listeners will likely search for the spokesperson’s name, company or brand in order to find more information. We build search optimization tactics into our earned media plans in order to complete that circle.
While in-person events seem but a distant memory since we have all been sequestered during the past year due to the pandemic, we can see their return just over the horizon.
One behavior that is constant around events is that people talk about the event before it occurs, they talk about the event as it unfolds, and they talk about the event after it ends. And much of that conversation happens online.
Traditional event planning should go beyond the logistics of feet on the floor to harnessing that conversation and amplifying it in the digital realm.
Events are also an opportunity to capture content that can be repurosed throughout the year on social channels, optimized for search, embedded on websites, and used as journalistic candy to entice additional earned media coverage.
3. Crisis Communications
Any crisis communications plan that does not include digital considersations is by definition incomplete. When a public relations nightmare occurs it may not break online but it will quickly get there and could just as quickly go global.
Anticipating what might go wrong and how those scenarios might play out online with a digital component to address them must be a central part of any crisis communications playbook.
A standard tactic for crisis communications is to have a website pre-built and ready to launch in the event of an emergency to act as a central information hub devoted to the issue of concern.
These are but three ways Tunheim thinks about connecting the digital and traditional dots. We are, of course, happy to help you think through those connections.