The definition of integrated marketing continues to evolve beyond simple channels – toward device, geography, and increasingly complex segments.
Most global organizations have established unique intra-departmental processes and alliances across divisions, and some have become more sophisticated than others.
Companies that have chosen to invest in the digital marketing channel the longest are currently reaping the most rewards from owned and earned media efforts, and have very refined paid strategies.
However, integration continues to be a problem, especially across organizations with a global market presence online. Complicated marketing, content, regional and brand communications silos often collaborate infrequently and impersonally with IT teams and forget to work toward a common goal: the target segment in that country for that product suite or service.
Here are four key areas for organizations to focus on improving in 2013, in order to drive online marketing integration and enable efficiency across global regions.
1. Regional Authenticity
Many marketing pundits and practitioners can agree that valuable content continues to be the darling of both search engines and humans. One observable trend among global brand websites is that many are simply translating content to various country-specific sections. Sites that are doing this should launch a clear path toward creating unique content that is regionally-relevant, styled, and appealing to local target segments.
There are many ways to customize the content other than just translating it. It’s not enough to add some fresh content about the Parthenon to a Greek site.
In some countries, there may be more of a split between B2B and B2C client targets than in others. There is no substitute for having real “locals” provide input to content development and style.
The point: for search engines to like it, humans have to like it, which is everyone’s favorite usability goal! Simply repurposing local press releases or event/sponsorship content isn't enough, although that's another current trend.
Even starting small would be a step toward better regional performance. A strategy of going with one business line or category, selected by country and its potential ROI or other performance story. Starting small allows for process set up which we will discuss below, but also can speed up the time to implementation and results, which can then immediately be heralded in order to gain more funding to do more.
2. Organizational Alignment
I feel that more attention should be focused on what has been defined as “marketing orientation” or “interfunctional coordination.” That is “dissemination of the intelligence across departments and organization-wide responsiveness to it.”
Most companies don’t take full advantage of everyone in their organization that can actually help grow the bottom line. Especially overlooked are the IT and administrative/sales worlds.
Site structure, as well as feedback from phone-in clients, often gets overlooked when defining the best user experience for users in specific countries. How many global marketers reading this have ever tried to get feedback on a country-level and incorporate it specifically for that region’s content, if it lives on a main domain? I am willing to bet that the answer is very few.
In 2013 we have to assume we are already aligning our paid, owned, and earned media efforts. If your social team doesn’t speak with your search team there is a problem.
The real point of organizational alignment however goes far deeper than trying to bridge less frequently crossed gaps. It involves the actual country teams and regional or country-level content owners working together toward common goals, and understanding that they can each be responsible for influencing future or existing customers at all points above and through the funnel.
True evangelism and clear buy-in from senior leadership is required. If people continue to think that the online channel is the little brother or sister of offline media, it will continue to be treated as such – loved but often ignored and occasionally kicked.
3. Process Excellence
Most global organizations figured out long ago that suddenly changing everything around can have a profoundly negative impact on employee performance and in some cases morale. Trying to suddenly launch a process to update all regional content across geographies as described above would probably fail in a variety of ways around the world.
Some may argue that this could in fact deliver a greater sample of potential roadblocks, but it would come at a cost.
Build a process by using a just one or two countries, and focus to the lowest common denominator in terms of organizational structure. (For example a single product set for a retail organization or a single Business Lines’ product suite for financial services, such as retirement accounts.)
Updating global search and media processes requires a strong internal leader with proven experience managing integrated marketing campaigns. This person will likely be supported by at least one agency, given today’s typical digital climate.
Although it may seem self-serving since I work at an agency, but I do strongly believe in the collaborative value that an agency plus in-house team can bring to sophisticated campaigns. Typically, among other things, agencies are very adept at project management and obviously should have experience with working with truly local partners or resources in supporting integrated marketing.
Process needs to include one central online marketing team that coordinates with IT as well as other internal teams to manage the development and ongoing measurement and refinement of campaigns.
Time considerations should come into process discussions as well. It makes sense to consider having one side of the world have to wake up in the middle of the night, only every few calls at most. However, these types of teleconferences are crucial to globalized integration, and should not be skipped in favor of regional meetings that occur at different times.
4. Enthusiastic Perseverance
It may seem that “enthusiasm” simply makes a nice “e” for “rope,” but in fact my original goal was to have “passion” listed as the most essential theme for global integration. Having been raised in a diplomatic household, I understand and believe in the power of positivity, and this should be bred into global marketing teams.
Most marketers are by nature gregarious, but can become reserved within formal settings, and stifle their own creativity and passion. In order for true global integration to occur, leadership must encourage and foster enthusiasm and a common goal attitude. This takes time and perseverance, but a positive attitude coupled with passion and armed with truly effective data-driven tactics make for continuously growing performance. It’s that simple.
Ideally these four principles for global integration can help marketer focus on integrating and accelerating performance growth across geographies into 2013 and beyond.
We have so many advanced toolsets and capable marketers both on the agency/consulting side and within large organizations, that it should be guaranteed that we’ll keep up with consumer desires for the types of content they can find, learn from, and share, no matter what country they are in.
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