Dispelling the Mystery of Digital Integration


What is digital integration?

 In the context of sales and marketing communications, there are really two aspects to the notion of integrating digital vehicles – think Search, Online Banners, Social Media and Email – into the media mix for overall increased leverage from marketing budgets:

Audience Expectations

  • This is where most people – end customers, clients, and creative agencies – spend the bulk of their time focused on:
    • Consistent creative expression – headlines, designs, offers, branding – all consistent between digital, print, TV and outdoor – with all vehicles reinforcing the brand position and messaging
    • Relevant and personalized – for big ticket or complex products, consumers can take many weeks or months to buy – consumers may visit you many times and increasingly expect you to recognize them and their needs with each return visit – much in the same way that an old family-run store used to or how Amazon knows you today, and can continue to offer you just what you need based on the last conversation…
  • Marketing Operations Alignment
    • This is where many marketers do not spend enough time on the back-office details associated with tracking and optimizing digital investments:
      • Audience Targeting – demographic and behavioral
      • Tracking – tracking advertising effectiveness and providing insight on the segments that are responding and on the movement of customer relationships from unknown to familiar to known
  • Technology – media delivery and reporting the results

Optimization – process of continually measuring effectiveness and re-allocating media budgets to the winning ads and placements

How does The Serum Agency use digital integration?


We use digital integration to help ensure we are producing the most impactful and cost effective campaigns possible.   Consumers use many channels of media to investigate their purchases – online is often the first channel they visit.   As such, it is vital that the online presence is consistent and compliments the offline shopping experience – we work with healthcare insurers to continually improve the targeting, the reach and the efficiency of both their online AND their offline marketing communications.

 What are the risks and benefits of digital integration?


Key risks include:

  • –It is very easy to overspend and not get much value in return; in the case of search and online banners, you need to monitor comparative results daily and weekly to ensure that your budget is not being wasted on prospects that are not responding or are not really relevant for your offering. Maximizing return on your budget is all about being careful relative to campaign targeting, tracking and ongoing optimization to shift budget away from tactics that are not working.


Key benefits include:

  • Advertising where your customers ARE – in 2016 Digital advertising media spending will exceed TV spending for the first time ever – marketers are flocking to search, online banners and social media because an increasingly larger share of their audience starts their shopping efforts online
  • Pay for performance – both search engine marketing and a large portion of online display marketing are based on a “cost-per-click” model – if no one clicks, no fees are incurred – this is very different than mail or TV.

 What is the response that The Serum Agency has gotten from using digital integration?


It has been very positive. Our insurance clients have embraced digital integration and are producing some of their highest rates of audience engagement AND lowest cost-per-member acquired results that they’ve ever experienced.   Consumers want a holistic buying experience; the more we can make it seamless across media vehicles, the higher overall performance we are achieving.

 How does The Serum Agency plan on having digital integration across all platforms?


We make sure we integrate digital with all media vehicles and sales channels. To maximize leverage of digital assets such as web pages, we use many different response paths (URLs) to drive prospects and customers back to the same web page – but then tailor the landing page to the individual based on the advertisement or search term they clicked upon. We use this approach to enable respondents from all media sources – TV, mail, digital – to have a relevant and fulfilling shopping experience.

 How did The Serum Agency start understanding and fixing the problems associated with digital integration?


About 20 years ago, before we created Serum, my team (along with nearly every other marketer worth their salt) felt early on that the future of marketing was the internet, and that the future of the internet was direct marketing – fast forward to today and we have shops like Amazon and Google that have taken the classic direct marketing methodology of tracking, response capture and budget optimization and put it on steroids. Digital integration works just like direct marketing, only with more complexity and available options. Our digital services have continued to grow each year as the myriad of media options continue to expand.


 How does The Serum Agency appeal to its audience about digital integration?


As much fun and as powerful as digital integration can be, from our perspective, the degree of digital integration and associated budget allocation is really dependent upon our client’s goals and objectives. At this point, all our clients must be engaged with digital advertising vehicles or they risk becoming increasingly irrelevant to their audience – so we work them to understand their most urgent needs in terms of sales vs. brand awareness and then help them to allocate and track their budgets accordingly.


We also deploy our own website and associated digital marketing initiatives at SerumAgency.com.   There we provide white papers, webcasts and videos to further engage and learn about integrating digital into their marketing mix.




Tom Reid is Vice President/Managing Director of Serum, the healthcare division of HackerAgency.


Super-Julie Smaller            Edited by Meagan Sims, Senior Public Relations Agent at SuperInterns.com