Integration is simultaneously the most overused and least practiced discipline in online marketing. The problem is that integration can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Search engine marketing, traditional online advertising initiatives, social media considerations and offline advertising efforts move at completely different speeds. These efforts are often represented by multiple entities or agencies, further complicating efforts to produce a consistent experience for the consuming public.
The interactive and connected world has changed dramatically in the years since Cro-Magnon marketers first ventured onto the web. Our new millennium, totally connected marketing world has made great strides toward advancing integration, yet there are still a few pitfalls to avoid with search, online marketing and the offline marketing world.
Search, optimization and a new site
Historically, complications arise in the search world due to age-old differences in how site designers and search marketers think.
When did Noah build the ark? Before it started raining, of course. The best time to begin planning for search engine optimization is right around the time you decide to launch a new or redesigned site.
Site designers view the web-to-brand site experience as the end-all-be-all in creating a rich content engagement. Designers create amazing interactive product and service engagement. However, search engine optimizers view the same connection in terms of crawlability and link equity for search rankings.
The difficult aspect of managing these disparate viewpoints can often be settled with proper communication between the two entities, if it comes early. While design and implementation tools have begun to move in the direction of becoming more Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly, a delicate understanding of each entity's goals is essential.
The simplest answer to the SEO integration question lies in mutual compromise and effective communication, both of which combined can go a long way to satisfying the ultimate goal of an integrated approach.
Media in motion
Keeping abreast of changes in the highly dynamic search world is a complicated and ongoing uphill battle for many marketers. The online advertising universe is also in a constant state of evolution and perpetual motion. The old guard of traditional media continues to plod along as it has for decades with creative and media residing on separate planets.
So how does one create a unified approach within multiple disciplines? The end game for most marketers lies in establishing a firm foothold with communication pathways for each expert in their respective fields.
The solution is simply characterized yet poorly executed (if at all) by many.
With multiple agencies, clearly defining and establishing the role of each firm is the first step in the process. This will reduce (but never really eliminate) quibbling in overlapping areas of expertise. Since budget allocations are often very fluid, taking control of how funds are being distributed clearly defining the reasons for such allocations is paramount to executing a successful integrated approach.
End the debate
Online marketers have been crying foul every time the subject of measuring ad performance has popped up since the novelty of display advertising wore off and people stopped clicking on ads en masse.
Online advertising and search marketing ad units are held to direct response metrics for many marketers, but quibbling over disparities in measurement and metrics will accomplish exactly squat for an integrated approach.
If you think simply hiring a one-stop shop will solve all of your integration problems, think again. While communication across multiple disciplines can be facilitated by collecting said disciplines under the same roof, you simply cannot expect to unify human nature with a consolidated profit and loss statement.
Site designers need to think like creative artists with a flair for engaging the target audience. Media buyers and planners (traditional or otherwise) need to find the best avenues for delivering the message. Search engine marketers need to translate creative and media consumption into a keyword connection.
At the end of the day, each specialized discipline can come together. All integration really takes is a little understanding, communication and discipline.
Kevin M. Ryan is Chief Executive Officer at Motivity Marketing. .