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The Customer Journey Recipe: Why digital marketing is an essential ingredient in the IMC mix.

Have you ever looked online for a recipe on your phone and all the pop-up ads and banner ads keep interrupting? Or been trying to listen to directions when the phone is ringing, the text is buzzing, people are walking by and the radio is playing? Welcome to life in the new millennium. There is a recipe for success, but continual tweaks to the recipe are required.

The Impact of Tools. Today, more than ever, there are tremendous amounts of “channels” for consumers to absorb information. Whether initiated on smartphones, desktop, laptop, watch, billboards, direct mail piece, tv, radio, blog, vlog, podcast…you get the picture, there are a lot of channels. Did you know, there has been a 900% increase in searches that contain “____near me today/tonight” over the last two years (Think with Google, 2018). In fact, 52% of web traffic worldwide is mobile (Statista, 2020). In 2019, 65% of 25-49-year old’s spoke to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day (PWC, 2019) and it’s expected by 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches (Wordstream, 2018). Each year, HubSpot, publishes its “Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics,” to highlight the dynamic trends, technology, and tactics of digital marketing. These statistics provide important insight to help organizations develop effective communication strategies. Think of them as the tools, the whisk, spatula, knives that will help guide your preparation.

It’s All In The Mixing: In marketing, effective communication happens when you deliver the right message to the right audience through the right channel using the right tone at the right time. So, what does that really mean? As buyers move through their decision-making process, they move from needs recognition and information search to purchase to post-purchase evaluation. Each stage of their journey requires the right communication, delivered with the proper tone in the proper channel. You can’t add the eggs after the flour. There is always a time and a place for the blending of your ingredients. For example, sending an email with all the benefits of a product and discount code when they have just performed an initial search is likely to get low click-throughs because the message was sent at the wrong time in their purchase decision journey. Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) strategies provide information in the right doses, at the right time through the right channels. Understanding and following each step of the recipe, in the right order, helps to increase your opportunity for a successful outcome.

Blending The Ingredients. IMC involves advertising, public relations (PR), communications, database, word of mouth, event, crisis relations, mail, print, web, mobile, personal selling, direct response, fulfillment, B2B, B2C, internal employees, marketing, onsite and offsite interactions with the brand. It is an approach to brand communications where the different parts work together to create a seamless experience for the customer. Just as all ingredients come together to make a fluffy, moist cake, so does IMC. Effective IMC programs work to influence consumer behavior and build stronger brand awareness, recall, loyalty, and equity. Creating a credible communication recipe involves the following 7 steps:

1. Setting goals.

2. Persuading and building preference

3. Capturing attention

4. Allocating budget

5. Reinforcing brand long term

6. Outmaneuvering competition

7. Adapting swiftly and efficiently

Potential Hiccups. When you are following any recipe, there can be challenges that arise that may or may not be within your control. You may not have the main ingredient (i.e. eggs, baking soda) so adjustments need to be made. With IMC planning, the challenges include limited attention, switching devices, and concerns with privacy. There are multiple tactics that you can use to communicate with your audiences such as search marketing, online advertising, marketing, cross-device engagement techniques, word of mouth campaigns, video and text marketing. Each of these tactics will be “snipped” later for further analysis and their application to the seven steps outlined above. But today's focus is on Why, the recipe itself. Understanding the basic framework of how you reach your audience at the right time, in the right way, with the right tone at the right time provides direction for selecting the right ingredients in your plan.

Do you have a preference in order of tactics? Take this quick poll and let me know, in rank order which preference is yours? [Poll Embedded]. I know you already have a lot to process every day in your business decisions, the goal here, as for any marketer, is to deliver you the right content, at the right time, in the right channel.

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