Why You Need an Integrated Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Too many small businesses make a common mistake when it comes to their marketing efforts. Are you one of them? You are if you separate your marketing efforts into silos. Sure, you have marketing plans for your business and/or website, that may (should) include search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, content marketing, mobile solutions, SMS (text) marketing, voice search, video, events and social media, but often they’re independent of one another.

This may sound simplistic, but your marketing should not be siloed. You need a holistic, integrated, cohesive marketing strategy that connects your various marketing channels and platforms.

How do you develop an integrated marketing plan?

Step 1. Define your customer

Do you really know who your ideal customer is? There are so many factors that fill out the profile of your ideal customer, including demographics (age, gender, level of education, race, income, where they live, relationship status, if they have kids, etc.) and psychographics (which looks at characteristics like emotions, values, desires, goals, interests, and lifestyle choices.)

Take this information and craft a customer profile or buyer persona. Once you have a better idea of who your customer is and what motivates them, it’ll be easier to create marketing campaigns that connect with them.

Step 2. Define your objectives

The objective of marketing is not just to sell stuff. Marketing helps you:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Explain and inform what you do and how you do it
  • Attract customers
  • Form relationships and alliances
  • Increase sales
  • Improve customer engagement

This contributes to the most important reason businesses market themselves—to build trust among customers.

That’s your overall goal. But you need to have incremental goals, which can include the elements listed above, or others, such as expanding into new markets, attracting strategic partners, launching a new product/service, etc.

Once you identify what you’re hoping to accomplish, create a realistic plan that is specific to that goal and measurable. It’s not good enough to say, “I want more customers to come to my restaurant.” Instead, perhaps you want to attract more families on the weekends.

Step 3. Marketing

At this point you should know who you’re targeting, what message you’re sending, and how you plan to reach them. Not all marketing channels are equally effective. But if you craft the right message to the right channel, your chances of success will be higher. Delivering a consistent message is important to building your brand, but you can swap out photo assets and some wording to more finely target your intended audiences.

If you’re driving consumers to sign-up for your email list, it’s smart to send them to landing pages where the marketing message is amplified. If you use AWeber for email marketing, you can create multiple landing pages in minutes with the brand new AWeber Landing Page Builder. You don’t need a website or technical skills to get started with this software. AWeber’s Landing Page Builder is the quick way to get your business online and start converting visitors to email subscribers.

This is where the integrated approach comes into play. Siloed marketing efforts might involve multiple marketing channels, but the efforts are not coordinated or integrated. They don’t cross promote. Think about how much more effective your marketing would be, for example, if you amplified your direct mail messages with a follow-up email marketing campaign.

Step 4. Measure and repeat

Another mistake small businesses often make is not measuring the results of their marketing efforts. All the social platforms offer some type of analytics. So does your search engine. There are third-party tools that also offer analytics. And of course your marketing should include some type of measurement device, like A/B testing. AWeber enables you to split test subject lines, email designs, templates, images, body copy, call-to-action text and so much more. It can make all the difference in your email marketing efforts.

See what works and what doesn’t and use that knowledge to inform your marketing as you go forward.

Crucial elements of marketing

Social media usage has skyrocketed

For a medium that didn’t exist 20 years ago, social media is now ubiquitous. According to Hootsuite, 82% of North Americans are active social media users.

Once you establish your social presence, create a company social media policy. What will you talk about? What do your clients and customers want and/or expect from you? Who will manage your social platforms? How often will you post? Consistency is key to achieving your goals. Remember, social media works by getting other people to amplify your message.

Direct mail is hot again

Direct mail is making a comeback. Why? One reason is, ironically, trust. Younger consumers—millennials and zoomers (Gen Z)—don’t necessarily associate direct mail with “junk mail” the way older consumers do. The younger generation doesn’t receive a lot of actual mail, so sending physical mail is a way to stand out from the crowd.

But, as novel as it is, direct mail alone is not nearly as effective as it can be if you couple it with email. Media Post suggests starting with a direct mail message and following up a week later with email. It also recommends sending two emails for every piece of direct mail you send.

You can make direct mail part of your automated marketing campaigns by setting up triggers to send direct mail after a prospect takes certain actions, just as you would with a drip email campaign. Both the email and the direct mail piece should use the same design elements and messaging to reinforce your brand and your offer.

Email remains king

As we’ve already alluded to, no campaign will work without a healthy dose of email marketing. According to stats compiled by 99firms.com:

  • 80% of marketers claim email is best for customer acquisition
  • Email marketing has a $44 ROI for every $1 spent
  • Global email users will hit 4.3 billion by 2023
  • Email is the preferred promotion channel for 60% of consumers

Underscoring these stats, eMarketer reports more than 90% of  internet users regularly send email, “making it one of the most common digital activities in the US.” And “data from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) indicates checking email is the most common activity on PCs as well as mobile apps.”

If you want your marketing to be truly effective, take the time to craft an integrated marketing approach. It may take you a little more time, but the payoff will be worth it.

About the author: Sidney R

Sidney is an editor and copywriter for Top Online Store Builders, covering topics ranging from starting an online store from scratch to all aspects of ecommerce marketing and cyber-security. When not writing, Sidney can be found hiking, traveling or surfing.

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