Kat French

Kat French

You know what the problem with having your dream job is?  Even when you’re supposed to be sleeping, you find yourself up late, plotting and puzzling about work.  

 

Want to know what’s keeping me up late lately?  Sure you do.  Otherwise, you’d just bounce off this post and wait for Jason to come back, right?

Integration.  

In my opinion, the one key ingredient that is keeping interactive marketing from fully delivering on its potential (at least for most clients), is a lack of proper integration between disciplines.  

For most brands, and in most agencies, interactive or web marketing exists in a silo, separated from other marketing and advertising disciplines.  And within that silo, the subdisciplines like web development, social media, SEO, paid search, and email marketing are often within their own siloes.  

It ought not be so.  Mainly, because web marketing disciplines are so intertwined in terms of activities and outcomes.   The inbound links developed as a part of a social media campaign has a tremendous potential to add value to SEO efforts (if the SEO is consulted).   Social media can increase ecommerce sales (yes, it can–I’ve seen it do so.  But it only works when people who really know the social space are leading the strategy, not the ecommerce experts.)  Paid search can be a powerful launch tool for driving traffic to a new social site.    Email can absolutely drive traffic, but that traffic will absolutely bounce if the landing page isn’t optimized to prepare for it.  

Have you ever had the experience of trying to incorporate edits from multiple sources into the same document?  What invariably ends up happening?   Someone’s changes overwrite someone else’s changes, and no one is happy with the end product.  

A similar thing happens when the different disciplines of interactive marketing don’t collaborate.  

So why is integration so difficult to pull off?  I think there are a number of reasons.  To a certain extent, there is some territoriality going on between practictioners and the different interested parties in a web marketing effort.  Aside from that, specialists tend to not understand other specialists’ disciplines well (if they were really that interested or attuned to that discipline, they’d add it to their list of specialties, wouldn’t they?)

Even in situations where you have a single internet marketer executing multiple channel campaigns, it seems rare that those campaigns are tightly integrated.  I would guess in those cases, it’s because if one person is trying to manage social media, SEO, paid search and email marketing, they’re already overcommitted.  Integration is part of strategy, which is a discipline all its own.  

But when it works, it works marvelously.  In the last three years or so I’ve been working in interactive marketing, I’ve been privileged to see and participate in a few well-integrated campaigns.  You don’t just get an addition or multiplication of ROI, I would say you get an exponential increase.

Yes, it’s a lot of effort to get all the boats pulling in the same direction.   But it’s an effort that, based on the case studies I’ve seen, is absolutely worth it.  

So what do you think?  What’s keeping internet marketers from really cracking the integration nut?  Where does collaboration fall apart, typically?  What kinds of results have you seen when all the boats are pulling in the same direction?  Drop it in the comments.

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.buzzbright.com kelly

    Collaboration falls apart when everyone gets too focused on specific tasks and not the main goal. I think team meetings are important just to at least start brainstorming and thinking of the bigger picture. Collaborative work environments breed creativity and produce results. Something Cloudbrain is currently thinking about: http://www.cloudbrain.com/2008/12/17/a-workspac
    seems like it could foster community and help everyone stay connected.

    • KatFrench

      Kelly – I think what you're thinking about is bloody brilliant (in my best Kentucky-laced fake British accent).

      I live in a small rural county, and the county seat has something along similar lines: the call it a “business cooperative.” They took a smallish vacant office building that the city had taken ownership of, and they do a membership program for small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers to use the space. It's been a great way to spur new business in an economically-challenged place.

      But your idea of a specialized one for creatives takes a good thing and moves it one step further towards awesome.

      Environment is a factor–I know that part of our efforts to better integrate the interactive department here at Doe Anderson with the rest of the agency was to physically move us all together, and closer to the Creative staff. Conversations happen that wouldn't have if we were all sequestered somewhere else.

      Which kind of is an argument against telecommuting and/or cloud commuting, which kind of bums me out, but that's a whole 'nother post.

  • http://www.buzzbright.com kelly

    Collaboration falls apart when everyone gets too focused on specific tasks and not the main goal. I think team meetings are important just to at least start brainstorming and thinking of the bigger picture. Collaborative work environments breed creativity and produce results. Something Cloudbrain is currently thinking about: http://www.cloudbrain.com/2008/12/17/a-workspac
    seems like it could foster community and help everyone stay connected.

  • KatFrench

    Kelly – I think what you're thinking about is bloody brilliant (in my best Kentucky-laced fake British accent).

    I live in a small rural county, and the county seat has something along similar lines: the call it a “business cooperative.” They took a smallish vacant office building that the city had taken ownership of, and they do a membership program for small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers to use the space. It's been a great way to spur new business in an economically-challenged place.

    But your idea of a specialized one for creatives takes a good thing and moves it one step further towards awesome.

    Environment is a factor–I know that part of our efforts to better integrate the interactive department here at Doe Anderson with the rest of the agency was to physically move us all together, and closer to the Creative staff. Conversations happen that wouldn't have if we were all sequestered somewhere else.

    Which kind of is an argument against telecommuting and/or cloud commuting, which kind of bums me out, but that's a whole 'nother post.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    This is a great post Kat — possibly the best I've seen at this blog — I think you touched on some important issues. Clearly there is territoriality. Another issue is a huge digital divide which still exists in the business world. Some companies “get it” while others are still not seeing the big picture. In a few years I think things will balance but as of now, it is still in many cases difficult to pull off integration.

    • KatFrench

      Adam,

      Wow, that's pretty high praise, considering the calibre of the posts here. Thank you.

      The digital divide is narrowing, I agree, but it's far from closed. Ironically, I think that some of the “best of breed” truly integrated crossmedia campaigns are coming from the television and movie industry. My first social media campaign was a promotion for a television show–and the client-side folks were absolutely committed to making sure the experience was seamless between the web elements, print elements, and the show itself.

      And there's no real reason that a CPG client can't create a similarly seamless experience across online, print, and broadcast media, other than “we've always done it that way,” or “it's that guy's department.”

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    This is a great post Kat — possibly the best I've seen at this blog — I think you touched on some important issues. Clearly there is territoriality. Another issue is a huge digital divide which still exists in the business world. Some companies “get it” while others are still not seeing the big picture. In a few years I think things will balance but as of now, it is still in many cases difficult to pull off integration.

  • http://www.digitalcapitalism.com Kbodnar32

    Kat,

    Thanks for writing a post that I have been thinking about for a while now. I agree with you on most everything, however, I think that you are missing one major factor, money. From an agency perspective services can get crowded especially when you introduce creative, PR, research and other disciplines to the digital mix.

    Clients normally have a pretty set budget and I think it is hard to integrate when you have the different disciplines going after budget dollars, however I agree that when integration does happen everyone involved benefits. I think cross education and a lack of understanding each discipline hurts integration as well. I would say that those two factors halt most integration.

    • KatFrench

      It always comes down to money, doesn't it? ;-)

      And yes, I think it's a particularly sticky wicket when you are on a retainer or program pricing structure, where you have a pool of billable hours per month to get things done, and multiple disciplines trying to share that pool and stay profitable.

      As far as the lack of understanding and cross education goes, there are two sides to that coin. First, some folks on the “get it” side of the digital divide don't want to explain things in true layman's terms. Second, some folks on the other side truly aren't interested and don't want to get it. Not much you can do, there.

  • http://www.digitalcapitalism.com Kbodnar32

    Kat,

    Thanks for writing a post that I have been thinking about for a while now. I agree with you on most everything, however, I think that you are missing one major factor, money. From an agency perspective services can get crowded especially when you introduce creative, PR, research and other disciplines to the digital mix.

    Clients normally have a pretty set budget and I think it is hard to integrate when you have the different disciplines going after budget dollars, however I agree that when integration does happen everyone involved benefits. I think cross education and a lack of understanding each discipline hurts integration as well. I would say that those two factors halt most integration.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Now you know better why I hired her, right?

    Well done. I'm glad you're on my team and are helping us stay focused on the integrated approach.

    • KatFrench

      Thanks! I'm still glad to be here–it's fun playing mad scientist with you and the rest of the team. :-) Hope you're having fun up in the Windy City.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Now you know better why I hired her, right?

    Well done. I'm glad you're on my team and are helping us stay focused on the integrated approach.

  • KatFrench

    Adam,

    Wow, that's pretty high praise, considering the calibre of the posts here. Thank you.

    The digital divide is narrowing, I agree, but it's far from closed. Ironically, I think that some of the “best of breed” truly integrated crossmedia campaigns are coming from the television and movie industry. My first social media campaign was a promotion for a television show–and the client-side folks were absolutely committed to making sure the experience was seamless between the web elements, print elements, and the show itself.

    And there's no real reason that a CPG client can't create a similarly seamless experience across online, print, and broadcast media, other than “we've always done it that way,” or “it's that guy's department.”

  • KatFrench

    It always comes down to money, doesn't it? ;-)

    And yes, I think it's a particularly sticky wicket when you are on a retainer or program pricing structure, where you have a pool of billable hours per month to get things done, and multiple disciplines trying to share that pool and stay profitable.

    As far as the lack of understanding and cross education goes, there are two sides to that coin. First, some folks on the “get it” side of the digital divide don't want to explain things in true layman's terms. Second, some folks on the other side truly aren't interested and don't want to get it. Not much you can do, there.

  • KatFrench

    Thanks! I'm still glad to be here–it's fun playing mad scientist with you and the rest of the team. :-) Hope you're having fun up in the Windy City.

  • Ron

    “Even in situations where you have a single internet marketer executing multiple channel campaigns, it seems rare that those campaigns are tightly integrated. I would guess in those cases, it’s because if one person is trying to manage social media, SEO, paid search and email marketing, they’re already overcommitted.”

    Hi Kat, I think I am overcommitted.
    Yes, it really gives me a hard time doing all this stuff.
    Can you give me some suggestions what shall I do to break this things up?
    Thanks in advance.

    • KatFrench

      Ron –

      Make sure you know what the overall goal for the campaign is, and how each channel should contribute to reaching that goal.

      Write the copy for all channels at the same time, so the tone, voice, and key messages remain the same across all channels.

      Block off your time into chunks of a couple of hours, and try not to work on multiple clients during the same “chunk.” It's hard enough to mentally shift gears between your SEM hat, your SEO hat, your social media hat and your email marketer hat. Don't try add switching brand voice, personality, and campaign messaging on top of that.

      As you finish each activity, look at the work from the perspective of each of your “hats.” I know that when I'm optimizing a landing page, I'm approaching the user from a much more aggressive marketing stance than I do when I'm thinking like a blogger or social media specialist. If I were only doing social media and my goal was to build a community of brand fans on the site, would I push back against an SEO whose copy was that aggressively salesy?

      Similarly, when I'm writing blog copy, I have to do another review pass for SEO as if someone else wrote the original copy. Should there be some kind of call to action in that post? I often don't think of it when I'm in “blogger mode”–but a second look helps me remember.

      So, basically, develop multiple personality disorder, I guess. (JK!)

      • Ron

        Its hard to develop this all-round-multiple-personality. But Im getting into it, Hehe.

        I am also considering of hiring someone to perform other tasks, which I guess, will be the best decision.

        Thanks Kat, I deeply appreciate your reply.

        • KatFrench

          Well, yeah. Hiring someone is probably less expensive than developing MPD. I hear psych meds are CRAZY expensive. ;-)

          • Ron

            Hehe, thanks. LOL

  • Ron

    “Even in situations where you have a single internet marketer executing multiple channel campaigns, it seems rare that those campaigns are tightly integrated. I would guess in those cases, it’s because if one person is trying to manage social media, SEO, paid search and email marketing, they’re already overcommitted.”

    Hi Kat, I think I am overcommitted.
    Yes, it really gives me a hard time doing all this stuff.
    Can you give me some suggestions what shall I do to break this things up?
    Thanks in advance.

  • KatFrench

    Ron –

    Make sure you know what the overall goal for the campaign is, and how each channel should contribute to reaching that goal.

    Write the copy for all channels at the same time, so the tone, voice, and key messages remain the same across all channels.

    Block off your time into chunks of a couple of hours, and try not to work on multiple clients during the same “chunk.” It's hard enough to mentally shift gears between your SEM hat, your SEO hat, your social media hat and your email marketer hat. Don't try add switching brand voice, personality, and campaign messaging on top of that.

    As you finish each activity, look at the work from the perspective of each of your “hats.” I know that when I'm optimizing a landing page, I'm approaching the user from a much more aggressive marketing stance than I do when I'm thinking like a blogger or social media specialist. If I were only doing social media and my goal was to build a community of brand fans on the site, would I push back against an SEO whose copy was that aggressively salesy?

    Similarly, when I'm writing blog copy, I have to do another review pass for SEO as if someone else wrote the original copy. Should there be some kind of call to action in that post? I often don't think of it when I'm in “blogger mode”–but a second look helps me remember.

    So, basically, develop multiple personality disorder, I guess. (JK!)

  • Ron

    Its hard to develop this all-round-multiple-personality. But Im getting into it, Hehe.

    I am also considering of hiring someone to perform other tasks, which I guess, will be the best decision.

    Thanks Kat, I deeply appreciate your reply.

  • KatFrench

    Well, yeah. Hiring someone is probably less expensive than developing MPD. I hear psych meds are CRAZY expensive. ;-)

  • Ron

    Hehe, thanks. LOL

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com GlobalPatriot

    In my experience collaboration falls apart for two reasons – 1) due to a lack of education or basic knowledge of different practices the various parties don't know how to work together (the social media people don't understand branding) or 2) the turf wars that you eluded to, whereby each group is trying to protect their people/ideas/budget and simply refuse to do what's best for all.

    Oh yea, there is a third one, where management is clueless and therefore doesn't hire the right people or fund the right projects/initiatives/technologies to make it happen.

    • KatFrench

      So the consensus I'm hearing is that the top three barriers to integration are:

      1. Lack of cross-disciplinary “basic training” and high level understanding.
      2. A spirit of competition outweighing the spirit of collaboration among the different vendors, teams and individuals.
      3. Leadership failure to make integration a priority; either through poor planning or failing to value integration by approving an inadequate budget to cover all the disciplines (forcing them to cannibalize each other for a bigger piece of a short-sheeted pie).

      • http://GlobalPatriot.com GlobalPatriot

        Exactly, Kat, and if you want total dysfunction, some companies suffer from all three!

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com GlobalPatriot

    In my experience collaboration falls apart for two reasons – 1) due to a lack of education or basic knowledge of different practices the various parties don't know how to work together (the social media people don't understand branding) or 2) the turf wars that you eluded to, whereby each group is trying to protect their people/ideas/budget and simply refuse to do what's best for all.

    Oh yea, there is a third one, where management is clueless and therefore doesn't hire the right people or fund the right projects/initiatives/technologies to make it happen.

  • KatFrench

    So the consensus I'm hearing is that the top three barriers to integration are:

    1. Lack of cross-disciplinary “basic training” and high level understanding.
    2. A spirit of competition outweighing the spirit of collaboration among the different vendors, teams and individuals.
    3. Leadership failure to make integration a priority; either through poor planning or failing to value integration by approving an inadequate budget to cover all the disciplines (forcing them to cannibalize each other for a bigger piece of a short-sheeted pie).

  • Pingback: 10 Skills All PR Pros Need For 2009 And Beyond

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com GlobalPatriot

    Exactly, Kat, and if you want total dysfunction, some companies suffer from all three!

  • Pingback: Why Integration is Critical in Internet Marketing. | Social Media … | InteractiveMarketing

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  • http://growthinharmony.com/ Reid Peterson

    Thanks for this post. Right now, most Internet Marketers are on the band wagon by claiming they are SEO experts. That's cool, but I get this sense that their potential clients have heard of SEO, but of course, don't know how to do it themselves. This creates a “glue” for the SEO expert to win business from the business needing SEO services.

    With that “said,” I think in the next year we will see an increase of Internet Marketers shifting their marketing message toward Integration. (Heck, I'm doing it and if I get the attention of anyone listening, they love it!) Why is it being loved? Because SEO is an unknown to business owners, Socail Media is to much of a commitment, PPC is fearful, and email marketing has created unsubscribers.

    The “Do It All, Please” is getting more popular to the small business owners I work with. They are seeing the value of an integration service because any of the “Silos” mentioned above are not producing results for business owners.

    And to be 110% transparent in this comment… I recently checked the keyword “Internet Marketing Integration.” Google stated there were 600 global monthly searches for the keyword. My prediction is that by fall of 2010, the estimate will have quadrupled!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Very well said, Reid. Thanks for the perspective. It's a bit ironic
      for me reading your description. When I sit down with a client the
      first words out of my mouth are normally SEO and email marketing …
      integrating buckets across a strategic plan is smart, which is why I
      agree with you that it will trend. Good points.

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