Mastering the mix
Mastering the mix
"Integration today is not a luxury; it's actually an imperative thing for marketers to be doing," says Will Margiloff, CEO of IgnitionOne, a digital marketing services company. "They can't think about one channel versus another. Print, newspaper, radio, TV and digital all have to be part of a cohesive integrated approach."
Take Nissan Motor Co., which, in developing a marketing plan to promote its 2012 Versa sedan to twentysomethings, didn't just throw out the kitchen sink — it chucked the whole kitchen.
For its "Most ____ Per Dollar" campaign, the automaker filled in the blank with any and every imaginable platform — TV, print, radio, out-of-home, online, direct mail and email — and then some. National TV ads and email are one thing, but a gyroscope-enabled iAd? A Facebook road trip connected to an online film festival? Song downloads via iTunes? Talk about something new and different.
"It's a little bit of a shotgun approach," says Nissan's director of marketing communications Bill Peffer, "but we want to make sure we're communicating to this specific demographic."
Marketers such as Nissan are grappling with how to market to consumers who aren't necessarily spending their time, well, anywhere in particular.
"You do find a much more fragmented media environment today," says Peffer. "It used to be you could launch any car in any segment and go on TV and reach 60% of the audience. That just isn't the case anymore."
As much as the "Most ____ Per Dollar" campaign may resemble the Titanic — big ship and hard to steer — Nissan deployed it like an armada. The campaign was launched in mid-August with a print buy in Time Inc. publications including Money, Sports Illustrated, People, Time and Entertainment Weekly.
Later in the month, the promotion grew to encompass TV spots and an offer for consumers to download a free song by indie band Foster the People nearly two months before its release.
Then in September, the marketer unleashed a full-blown media assault that included homepage takeovers via Yahoo.com and MSN.com, billboards, a Facebook contest and an interactive iAd that gives consumers a 360-degree view of the Versa.
The campaign is scheduled to run through next March. Says Peffer, "We don't expect that very many customers are going to see every element of the campaign." But clearly, Nissan intends to grab every eyeball it can or die trying.
Another auto nameplate, Porsche Cars North America, put its marketing muscle behind an integrated campaign that kicked off this past March and runs through the end of this year. The "Engineered for Magic. Everyday" campaign includes TV, print, mobile and online, as well as a direct mail component that served to seal the deal.
In addition to print ads and TV spots that aired during the NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Championship tournament, the campaign featured a dedicated website featuring professionally produced and consumer-generated content, including videos, photos and testimonials from customers about their cars. By June, a few months after the TV, print and online elements debuted, Porsche began to send brochures by way of direct mail.
"We consciously, for this campaign, held the direct mail piece for later to amplify the message," explains Josh Cherfoli, online and relationship marketing manager at Porsche. "It was another one of these opportunities for people to come into the campaign and connect with a different medium. It was another peak in the communications plan."
That direct mail tactic also enabled the automaker to strengthen the ties among the campaign's disparate elements by featuring consumer-generated content in the brochures.
David Berkowitz, VP of emerging media at digital agency 360i, says brand marketers would do well to integrate digital and offline media channels in a similar fashion as Porsche has.
"Instead of digital being a killer for everything, digital is demonstrating the value for traditional programs and making them more valuable than they ever were before," he says.
In fact, user-generated content was seen as a central player in the campaign from the beginning, according to Cherfoli.
Leading up to the campaign's launch, Porsche had been asking consumers to submit stories about their relationships with their cars to its Facebook page, which featured a new customer story every Friday. Porsche also created a Facebook application that enabled consumers to include images of their own cars in as part of a larger mosaic of a Porsche that could then be shared with their friends.
"We had very casually been doing this prior to the campaign, and as we got deeper into this campaign, we leaned on that strategy because it was something that worked well," says Cherfoli.
Social can be a risky businessWhile social experimentation is a tactic more marketers are using to protect their expensive investments in sweeping integrated campaigns, it doesn't always work out the way a brand plans. As goofs by companies such as Groupon and Nivea have demonstrated lately, consumers can be quick to damn a marketer's message and potentially turn against it.
"It used to be that marketers would test new campaign ideas with focus groups or interviews, but social media allows you to get fast feedback from your potential target audience," says Brian Kardon, CMO of marketing services company Eloqua.
Consumer electronics company Samsung employs a comprehensive pre-launch undertaking that sources social media, search and blogs to refine the content of a campaign. Prior to announcing the company's Galaxy S II smartphone in late August, Samsung generated "a crescendo of activity through social media," says Paul Golden, VP of strategic marketing at Samsung Mobile. "Social media is a key part of the pre-launch campaign and getting consumers to start talking about the product," he says.
Q&A, Mark Krebs, VP of marketing, Kirkland's
Consumer electronics companies face a dilemma in developing their marketing messages: determining which of a new product's bells and whistles will resonate with the most consumers. Samsung surveys the feedback it receives via social media, media tours, PR efforts and blogs, and then zeroes in on "what are the key messages to reframe and remold," says Golden. Once those are identified, Samsung pivots its online display ads, Web content, pay-per-click campaigns and social messaging to mirror the crowdsourced messaging. For example, Samsung has been tracking feedback surrounding its Galaxy S II since announcing the launch of the product in February, Golden points out.
Speaking with Direct Marketing News before the Galaxy S II's launch, Golden declined to offer specifics of the integrated campaign to support the product, but revealed it would resemble the company's marketing push in support of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, which hit stores in June. After a five-month pre-launch period that included social media, PR and reader meet-ups with bloggers, Samsung launched that campaign with TV, print, digital and social, as well as an experiential element — "experiences zones" in malls, as Golden calls them, where consumers could interact with the device.
Rather than ignite the campaign and then let gravity determine its fate, Samsung capitalized on "a significant software upgrade" to sustain engagement post-launch. "You can't keep going to consumers with the same message, [because] eventually they tire of it and are looking for something new to talk about," says Golden. "The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was a good example of how that campaign's messages changed over time, from the initial awareness building to more depth about the product — and then when we had the software update, having our digital messaging talk very much about the benefits of this new software. It was an opportunity to come in and provide fresh news."The inundated consumer
Consumer fatigue can, in fact, prove a terminal illness for an integrated campaign, and digital has only served to catalyze the process. The proliferation of a campaign's touchpoints means that a consumer might have viewed a TV ad only once, and yet come to feel inundated after viewing it once more in a rich-media banner ad, then seeing similar creative in a magazine or direct mail piece. Mercifully, digital has enabled marketers to better track consumers' exposure to a campaign, allowing them to tailor their strategies accordingly. This can aid marketers in avoiding the maelstrom: an all-encompassing fluid funnel soaking and submerging any and all with which it makes contact.
Integrated marketing is undergoing a transition away from merely linking creative content across multiple channels to connecting audiences as they interact with each of those channels, says Jon Ingalls, CMO of data management and analytics firm BlueKai.
"Folks that I've talked to are now saying that they're thinking about how to create an experience," he says. "The opportunity is that I can see something that traverses all [channels]. You can essentially have one audience and keep applying it — having one pool of audience and watching that audience roll across different channels." Ingalls says marketers are beginning to view their display, social and email efforts as "customer sessions: the length of time [spent] across the channels."
Tim Kopp, CMO of email marketing company ExactTarget, says one of its clients, a big-box retailer, combines site-search analytics with browsing and past-purchase analytics "to create dynamic [email] offers that render at the time someone opens [the email] versus when [it is] sent." Samsung has taken a similar tack, strategizing to evolve its campaigns in accordance with a consumer's accumulating touchpoints.
"When we plan our media, we do think of it in terms of how we move a consumer along a funnel," says Golden. "We think of it in terms of how they'll view one piece of media to drive awareness, how we'll follow on that with other media that will be focused on providing additional information, and then how we get to the next level, where we actually drive them into sales. And one of the other areas where you see that is in a lot of our digital work, where we're retargeting consumers and sending them some customized messaging based on where they've come into the funnel, as well as what [content] they've seen, and what site they may have come from, and what the contextual reference was."
Another way Samsung has opted to fortify its integrated campaigns is by pruning excess elements in favor of more measurable options. The marketer doesn't typically use direct mail as part of its campaigns, but the company does employ a segmented email program to send messages to consumers, says Golden. Samsung breaks down its database of Samsung product owners according to whether they own a Samsung smartphone, or other Samsung products like a television or Blu-ray player. The company also buys email lists to market to the customers of its competitors, says Golden.
Harnessing the data deluge
The data deluge has also helped RadioShack Corp. refocus its integrated campaigns. "The real story for us is how mobile is becoming the first screen of interaction," says Adrian Parker, director of social media and digital strategy at RadioShack. That discovery has been a godsend for a business facing a steep sales window. Parker says half of the retailer's business comes from mobile products, with consumers typically making their purchase decisions over the course of two weeks. "With that accelerated pace of the purchase decision, we've made our campaigns be more about nuanced creative," he says. "It's not necessarily putting the TV ad on YouTube — that's not a holistic approach. It is about letting consumers engage on their terms, whether that is a traditional media vehicle or a social or a digital vehicle."
Parker offers up last year's Christmastime "Holiday Heroes" campaign as an example of RadioShack's nod to the two-week buyer's cycle. The campaign featured a TV spot bolstered online with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the ad. A Twitter hashtag promoted in the spot asked consumers to tweet pictures of themselves for a chance to win prizes.
"We're just trying to make sure we have all the elements in that toolkit," says Parker. "It's less linear and less unilateral. It's a more multilateral approach."
Boom times for integrated ROI
As marketers begin to connect the dots between their integrated programs' online and offline elements and tag components, they are on the cusp of attaining fully measurable cross-channel initiatives.
Of course, multilateral does not always deliver the multitudes. While experts interviewed for this story agree today's consumer base is more fragmented than ever, not all advocate the all-hands-on-deck approach. "Fragmented media benefits us because it's more targeted than traditional media has been," says Spyro Kourtis, president and CEO of agency Hacker Group.
Visa has capitalized on corralling the fragmented legion of consumers, concentrating its marketing campaigns on individual subsets of customers. For example, with its "Trip of a Lifetime" campaign, which launched in May, the credit card company spoke to consumers gearing up for the summer travel season.
With that subset in mind, Visa determined the campaign's social-centric media mix by researching these consumers' "decision journey," the process of researching, planning and booking a vacation, says Alex Craddock, head of North America marketing at Visa. "What was very clear as we went through that process with the travel campaign is that travel planning and booking has become inherently very focused online and an increasingly social experience," he says.
"When we were analyzing the consumer decision journey, although there is a lot of planning that goes into the actual purchasing decision, what was very exciting and interesting for us in travel is how much engagement there is while people are on their vacations — sending photos and posting updates on Facebook — and then, importantly, when they come back from their vacations, over months in some cases," says Craddock.
That protracted sharing certainly helps grow the reach and duration of a campaign. But in an age when integrated campaigns can be more hit-or-miss than ever, can such a small-ball strategy extend to the entire marketing ecosystem for a high-profile brand?
"I would go as far as to say all our campaigns now have this very streamlined approach," says Craddock. "For everything we do in North America, we go through this consumer decision journey strategy development for every single campaign. We very much want to focus and concentrate our media dollars in those channels, where we know we're going to be reaching the consumer at the right point in the decision journey and with the right message. And inherently, that leads you to a very focused strategy."