Written by Sydney Jones
(Photo credit: Clique Images)
When we create a campaign, specifically in Integrated Marketing Communications, we aim for something that is going to help us connect with contacts to have some sort of the desired effect. Whether it is a greater reach, engagement, or brand loyalty, we are trying to reach some sort of goal. So, how do we achieve this goal of creating an effective campaign? The answer may be creating more interactive campaigns.
What is IMC?
The American Marketing Association defines IMC as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time” (Davenport). Essentially, IMC enables us to not only reach our desired audience but create a connection with them. Why is this important? Consider your relationship with your boss. Having a good relationship with an employer compels us to want to stick with the job. The same could be said for brands. The more we connect with consumers and provide messages that are relevant to them, the more likely they are to remain loyal to our brand.
Touchpoints: The Bridge Between the Brand and the Consumer
Since IMC is so focused on connection, it is important to consider touchpoints. According to George and Michael Belch, authors of Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective, “touchpoints are unique interactions that a consumer has with a brand and represent connection opportunities between the brand and the consumer” (as cited by Zwerin et al., 2019). For example, a consumer visiting a social media site would be a touchpoint because there is an opportunity created for the consumer to create a connection to the brand. Touchpoints are essential to campaigns, as they are the catalyst for consumer-brand relationships.
(photo credit: Toa Heftiba)
How Do I Know My Campaign Is Effective?
Now that we know what touchpoints are and why they are important, we need to know how they make a campaign effective. A study conducted by Amanda Zerwin, Theresa B. Clarke, and Irvine Clark III examined different techniques used in Effie’s award-winning campaigns. The Effie Awards are the only competition that currently rewards effectiveness, referred to as “results” within the judging criteria, separate from commonly measured creativity dimensions within other prominent advertising awards (Zwerin et al., 2019). The study found increasing use of digital marketing in award-winning campaigns. From the emerging categories, the ones that appeared most frequently were social networking and mobile/tablet. Search engine marketing and branded content were other emerging categories used frequently in award-winning campaigns and should be considered for future campaigns.
There are many opportunities for interaction that come with digital marketing. Brands can use surveys, polls, or pop-ups to increase clicks and follow-through on the consumer side. Basically, the more opportunity for interaction, the more opportunity for connection. Interacting with the consumer gives brands a chance to capture information about what is relevant to them, and tailor their experience with your brand to fit that relevance. For example, if you are going to a new stylist to get your hair colored, you don’t simply sit down and let them go. You talk to them, establish what you like and what you want, and they use that information to tailor the experience to your desires. If the hair turns out the way you wanted, you continue to go back to that stylist. We are more compelled to stay loyal to things that are relevant to us, and this is important to consider when creating a campaign.
How Many Touchpoints Should I Use?
So, how many touchpoints make an effective campaign? You want to make sure to provide enough opportunities for the consumer to interact, without being overbearing (too many clicks to get from point to point can become annoying). According to the study by Zerwin, Clarke, and Clark, advertisers should consider using between four to nine touchpoints, as this number was shown consistently in Effie award-winning campaigns (2019). This amount allows for plenty of interaction opportunities without becoming too costly. However, their research showed that assuming an upward trend in touchpoint usage continues, advertisers may want to lean toward eight to nine touchpoints on average to remain competitive in the future (Zwerin et al., 2019).
Overall, interaction and touchpoints are crucial to a campaign’s success. They emphasize IMC’s goal of combining marketing and communication efforts. Today, connection and emotion are much more prominent. It is important to establish communication with consumers along with marketing efforts. You don’t just want to shove your brand in their face, you want to find out why they would benefit from your brand. Establishing a connection also helps to give your brand a personality and tell its story, which are crucial points in any form of advertising or marketing. All-in-all, you want to make sure that you and your consumers have a voice.
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2018). Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective (Vol. 11). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Davenport, D. (n.d.). What is Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)? Purdue University Online. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://online.purdue.edu/blog/communication/what-is-integrated-marketing-communication-imc
Zwerin, A., Clarke, T. B., & Clarke, I. (2019). Traditional and emerging integrated marketing communication touchpoints used in Effie Award-winning promotional campaigns. Journal of Promotion Management, 26(2), 163–185. https://doi.org/10.1080/10496491.2019.1699626