Integration means making sure that all of your messages make sense in the context of one another. Specifically to email marketers, integration means contributing to overarching brand goals in alignment with individual email goals. Typically, helping the larger marketing organization meet its goals translates into supporting other marketing communications.
However, sometimes email can take a lead role in integration, such as when a marketer with a loyalty program uses email as the main channel in describing benefits, account statements and other program elements. Most importantly, email integration should mean that email acts as part of a cohesive strategy, not as a stand-alone tactic.
As with the loyalty example above, email can represent a palpable element of a brand promise. Email can also augment other planned communications from catalog drops to broadcast TV flights to in-store events. Finally, email can augment efforts to reach consumer or customer segments that demonstrate substantially different interests from the ones addressed in other channels. In all of these cases, email helps reinforce major brand themes in a complementary fashion.
While email should integrate with as many other communication vehicles as possible, it makes the most sense to start with the channels that most closely relate to email and then move towards the channels with a less direct relationship:
- Your website: the email should bear more than a passing resemblance to the linked website. Most importantly, this linkage means using some of the key design elements. The site itself should also help out the email marketer by collecting addresses with links posted in prominent positions.
- Direct mail and catalogs: DM and email should coordinate offers to prevent confusion or, even worse, the situation where one channel offers a substantially better deal than the other. Use the precise timing of email to support direct mail offers and catalogs.
- Events: email can help drive value from event marketing both before and after the event. Before, marketers can use email not just to tell consumers about an event, but also to set up specific appointments, to highlight special features or to tease key content. After the event, email offers an easy and personal way to thank those who attended and to drive them towards purchase. The event itself, by the way, is another great opportunity to gather email addresses. New opt-ins to the email should receive a welcome email that specifically mentions their event attendance.
- Mass media: email marketers should happily freeload off the added brand awareness provided by ads on TV or in print media. Mass communications exposure means faster recognition of the email's sender in the inbox.
- Public relations: keep an eye on the PR front for opportunities to let consumers know about a brand's successes. Use your discretion to separate exposures that interests the email audience from exposures that are too self-serving.