Over the last decade, the term “integrated marketing campaign”, or IMC, has become more commonplace in the field of digital marketing. Often the term is thrown around like a buzzword without much of an explanation. So what is integrated marketing, and how can your nonprofit benefit from using an integrated marketing strategy to achieve your goals?
Simply put, using an integrated marketing strategy involves implementing a consistent message across multiple communication channels. This seems easy enough, but many organizations, for-profit and nonprofit alike, fail to enact a successful IMC strategy. Effectively using integrated marketing takes time: time to plan, time to implement, and time to analyze. You cannot throw something at your audience and hope that something sticks. Every message you try to communicate has to be deliberate and thought out. So how do you create and implement an effective integrated marketing strategy?
The first step to making a strong IMC strategy is to create a plan. As part of your plan, your nonprofit needs to understand your communication channels and platforms. Your marketing team needs to be asking which channels your audience is using, which channels you are using, and where you are at in relation to your audience on these channels. Taking inventory of where you are at currently will help you analyze what your primary audience is and whether or not that is your target audience.
After determining where your organization is currently at, you need to identify where you want to be. Does your organization want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, increase conversions, etc? These goals will shape which platforms you prioritize and how you will use each platform. For the goals you create, it is important that you have a mix of long and short-term goals. Your long-term goals can be broader and more generalized, but make sure your short-term goals are relevant and achievable. This way you can create a roadmap for your integrated marketing strategy that you can measure your progress against.
Once you have established your goals, your next step in the plan is to determine your message. This is the most important part of your IMC strategy. Your nonprofit’s message will be seen across all of your advertising platforms, so make sure that it is clear, concise, and transplantable. An effective message is one that is recognizable and understandable no matter what platform it appears on. A great example of this is a nonprofit that we work with directly: The Bridgespan Group.
The organization’s goal is to help nonprofits improve and take their organization to the next level, and that is well represented. Across all of their platforms, Bridgespan’s message and voice is clearly and concisely communicated through their tone and their choice of vocabulary. Additionally, the images Bridgespan uses all have the same bright, “inspiring” color palate that attempts to make their audience feel good. This consistency in message and imagery makes it so that no matter what platform you are using to interact with Bridgespan, you are able to easily determine what their purpose is.
Implementing your nonprofit’s integrated marketing strategy is much simpler than planning it. Note that you need to make sure that your organization is diligent and consistent about using each of your communication platforms. Letting one platform lag behind the others can start a domino effect that could lead to neglecting all of your platforms. As an example: your organization releases weekly blog content and then uses that as a basis for social media posting and adding to the keywords you are bidding on in paid search. If your organization goes a week without posting a blog, you have lost social media content and the potential to create new ads to draw in new audiences. While holistic strategy is vital, each component is valuable to a successful marketing plan. Neglecting one area of strategy can make an impact, causing potential loss of the audience that engages with that platform.
As you are enacting your strategy, it is important that you keep track of how each communication platform is doing and whether or not you are achieving your goals. No plan survives for long without being altered. There will be unforeseen circumstances that your IMC strategy did not account for in the planning stage. Tracking metrics will help you adjust to these situations so that you can achieve your goals. Be flexible, and ultimately be ready to make as many alterations as needed.
Returning to Bridespan, we worked with them for the Fall cohort of their Nonprofit Leadership Accelerator program to implement an integrated marketing strategy. This strategy, planned and implemented over a lengthy timeline, combined the Google Ad Grant, Google Display marketing, Display Remarketing, and Facebook advertising. From the Google Ad Grant, we worked with Bridgespan to drive traffic to strategic blogs to refine the information we used to build remarketing lists for their Display Ads. With that integrated marketing strategy, we were able to increase the number of form fill conversions by 368%.
“As we recruited for the Fall cohort, Cause Inspired Media not only managed our Google Ad account as a whole, but worked with us to constantly experiment and iterate on our integrated Google Ad strategy. We truly appreciated their responsiveness and dedication to continuous improvement, and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve for the next cohort.”
– Senior Marketing & Engagement Analyst, Alyssa Isakower
No two digital marketing strategies will look the same. What your plan will look like depends on the size of your organization, what your nonprofit focuses on, where your audience is, and a bevy of other factors. So long as your IMC strategy has the core component: a consistent message across all of your advertising platforms, it is an integrated marketing strategy.
Are you excited to see how effective implementing an integrated marketing strategy at your nonprofit can be? Cause Inspired Media offers a full IMC package for nonprofits interested in taking their marketing strategy to the next level.