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What Is Integrated Marketing Communications?


what is integrated marketing communications

When you think of the “signature” voice of a certain brand, it’s not because you’ve seen it once or twice — it’s because that company has made it part of its core identity. 


Integrated marketing communications is the alignment of your brand’s core messaging across all marketing channels. That includes public relations, organic social media, paid ads, and your website. 


When done successfully, integrated marketing communications drives trust among your target customers (after all, reliability is key!), builds your brand, and allows your various marketing channels to support each other for the best results.


Today, PR teams often help companies shape their messaging strategy and provide recommendations on how it can be translated across channels. For instance, if your brand created a PR launch campaign that drove messaging about taking control of your own health, that messaging should be applied across all other marketing channels as well.


Let’s explore more about the benefits of integrated marketing communications and how you can apply them to your own brand’s strategy.


What Are the Benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications? 


benefits of integrated marketing communications


1. Drives Trust Among Target Customers


Consistency is key when speaking to your potential customers. When your audience knows exactly what to expect from your brand, it builds trust — nudging them closer toward an initial purchase and eventually repeat purchases.


It also shows that all pillars of your business are operating seamlessly together. A consumer shouldn’t feel like they’re speaking to different people when they visit your social media channels versus when they see a Google display ad served to them. Instead, they should feel like there’s one dependable voice to turn toward. 


You also naturally learn more about your customers when applying integrated marketing communications. For this strategy to work effectively, you must deeply understand your customers’ preferences, needs, and behaviors across channels. While messaging can be tailored to resonate with specific customer personas, it should all be reflective of your brand’s core identity. 


Remember: When you speak your customers’ language, it builds trust. In fact, even global corporations have been known to read Reddit threads from their target audience to better understand their pain points and language patterns. 


Finally, integrated marketing communications ensures you can quickly address any customer issues or concerns across various channels in a cohesive way. This reputation management is key for maintaining your company’s positive presence in the lives of consumers. 


2. Builds Your Brand


As you hone in on how you’ll speak to your target audience in an easily recognizable way across platforms, your teams will naturally learn more about what differentiates your company from competitors. 


Your marketing teams should be asking key questions such as:


  • How is our voice unique from our competitors?

  • What makes someone feel more welcomed by our brand than by another one? 

  • In what ways are we driving trust through our language and unique value propositions? 

  • Have we carved out a distinct identity in the marketplace that is memorable to consumers?


Communication with your customers is also a key thread in the fabric of your brand. Meaningful interactions with target customers across platforms build your brand and increase customer retention. By providing distinct content, responding to customer concerns, and starting conversations with your audience across platforms, you drive brand loyalty and advocacy. 


These factors play an important role in the long-term growth of your brand. Integrated marketing communications ensure that your company continues to deliver value, maintain relevance, and build relationships with customers in an ever-changing marketplace.


3. Optimizes Your Marketing Channels


In today’s world, marketing channels do not exist on their own. Your PR efforts must be closely integrated with your SEO, social media, and partnership efforts (just to name a few!) to reap the greatest results. 


Plus, customers don’t exist on just one channel. By creating a seamless experience between all marketing channels, you increase audience engagement on all of them. 


Integrated marketing communications also look closely at the customer journey and the role each marketing channel plays in the overall sales funnel. From initial awareness to consideration and conversion, no “layer” of the funnel can exist on its own — they’re each deeply connected and supportive of one another. That’s why consistent messaging across each is key for greater overall success. 


Close collaboration between your marketing teams can also foster valuable knowledge sharing for data identifying what resonates most with your target audience, such as the results of A/B or multivariate testing. The more knowledge sharing that occurs between your teams, the less you have to spend on additional testing.  


4. Increases Revenue


All of the previous benefits mentioned (increased trust, brand building, and optimized marketing channels) drive a key KPI for your company: revenue. Integrated marketing communications ensures that every level of your sales funnel is fully optimized, leading to the most sales and customer retention. 


It can also encourage your teams to think holistically about cross-selling and upselling opportunities. By maintaining consistent language across channels and understanding where customers purchase what products, your company can effectively implement strategies for increasing the average transaction value and overall revenue per customer. 


Finally, integrated marketing communications also boosts your visibility and reputation among other brands, leading to lucrative partnership and collaboration opportunities. Carving out your identity in the marketplace through consistent messaging is a key tool for driving long-term growth.


How Can Brands Achieve Integrated Marketing Communications?


how to do integrated marketing communications


1. Ensure Communication Among All Teams 


A mistake that even the largest global corporations can make is allowing their PR and marketing teams to exist in different silos. Public relations, social media, SEO, and all other marketing teams should be closely aligned and share goals for the greatest results. 


Public relations can play a role in every step of the customer journey — well beyond brand awareness. Social proof from media coverage can move potential customers in the “consideration” stage of the sales funnel closer to conversion or turn one-time customers into loyal brand advocates and repeat customers. 


However, for this to occur, your teams must be aligned. Make sure they’re following the same brand guidelines, including brand voice guides and customer personas, and that team goals don’t conflict with one another.  


2. Research Your Target Audience


If it’s been a while since you developed your customer personas, take this opportunity to reevaluate and refresh them. Refer to your latest sets of customer data (and make sure it’s clean, reliable data), conduct focus groups to gather anecdotal evidence and to capture the voice of your audience, and conduct market and competitive research to determine how your brand stands apart. 


Even your loyal customers may have different goals than they did five years ago, as our world and the marketplace are constantly transforming — and as a result, so is customer behavior. 


3. Adjust (But Don’t Change) Messaging by Channel


Recognize that your customers have different needs if they’re searching for your company’s products or services on Google, reading about it in a digital media article, or stumbling upon it on social media. Although it’s important to tailor how you approach your messaging based on the specific marketing channel, the messaging itself shouldn’t change. 


If your brand voice is humorous and laidback, it should be on all channels (not just, say, TikTok). And if you’re a more traditional brand, that doesn’t mean you should abandon that tone on social media. Test and reiterate to find what formula resonates with your audience on each marketing channel based on their needs, but stay true to your company’s core voice and identity. 


4. Ensure That Your Print and Digital Efforts Are Aligned 


Print is not dead — and several companies make use of both print marketing collateral or media opportunities and a digital presence. Just like your marketing channels shouldn’t be siloed, neither should your teams that work on print versus digital. 


A spread in a top-tier magazine or leading newspaper like The New York Times can double as a fantastic social media asset for building credibility, while digital media placements deserve a mention in your print brochures and other in-real-life materials. Your print materials should also include the digital publications you’ve been featured in for social proof.


Most importantly, the messaging between both print and digital assets should remain consistent and easily recognizable as your brand.


5. Get Real-Time Feedback From Your Customers 


We once worked with a global corporation that, internally, saw the different arms of its business as completely separate entities. However, when it held focus groups with customers, it found out that its audience was unaware of this separation. 


Because customers saw the corporation as one cohesive brand, they were confused as to why customer service, payment methods, and rewards systems were different based on the service they were using. That led to poor perception of customer service and user experience.


You may think you know everything about your audience based on data, but until you speak to them, you may be missing out on powerful anecdotes and insights. It’s clear to see which brands have incorporated their customers’ voices into their integrated marketing communications — and that are successful leaders in their marketplace as a result. 

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