Saying that integrating multiple channels and platforms can be challenging is an understatement. Most companies don’t have the tools or technology to have a completely integrated strategy. Buying or developing them is cost prohibitive because there are so many nuances that don’t deliver a return on investment.

Not having an integrated strategy can be costly too. Revenue is lost when customers don’t buy because there was a disconnect between marketing and sales. Costs are escalated when there is a breakdown between marketing and service. Finding the right balance of integration benefits both company and customer. Here are the top five components of an integrated marketing strategy:

Customer Focus – Successful marketing strategies start and end with customers. The need to make customers a top priority is well known but rarely executed because marketing glory isn’t won by keeping customers. Acquisition, awards, and viral campaigns get attention but they seldom increase profitability. Acquisition adds growth opportunity. Awards provide recognition. And viral campaigns create drama. But the bulk of the money that contributes to the company’s longevity comes from loyal customers.

Marketing to established customers costs less and generates more revenue. These people know and trust your business so they don’t need a hard sell to get the order. Design your primary marketing strategy around them. Find out how and where they want to connect with you and make it easy for them to do it.

Interdepartmental Cooperation – Contrary to popular opinion, good communication between departments isn’t enough to make integrated marketing work well. Departments have to work together. Communication is important but the commitment to do whatever it takes to resolve issues is vital.

The relationship between marketing, sales, and customer care is often adversarial. Legacy issues haunt current managers. Reaching out to the other teams to create a better working environment and customer experience is the first step. The process of changing from segregated to integrated is hard, but worth the effort. It improves everything from morale to profitability.

Database Communication – Every company has multiple databases filled with valuable and extraneous information. Digging through raw data to find nuggets of actionable information is not fun (at least for most folks) but it can deliver phenomenal results. Trying to create a one-stop shop for all data needs is virtually impossible because multiple channels and departments have individual needs. The resources required to deliver the mega-database are extensive.

Instead of wasting time and money on developing a turn-key solution, create communication paths that allow the sharing of key information across platforms. Some will be automated, others will be manual. All will provide the information needed to successfully grow a profitable business.

Leverage – Each channel has unique strengths and weaknesses. Leveraging the strengths of one to offset the weaknesses of another improves effectiveness and reduces costs. The leverage process begins with an in-depth understanding of each channel, how your customers interact with it, and the associated costs.

Using the information found during the understanding phase, determine the best way to provide the marketing and service your customers expect with the channels that maximize your return on investment. Leverage requires due diligence and monitoring because channels are evolving quickly. Putting systems in place to measure the effectiveness saves time and money.

Return on Investment – Sustainable businesses require profitability. Generating a return on investment requires planning and focus. Every function, channel, and department has to deliver results that contribute to the financial well being of the company. The proceeding statements should be common knowledge for everyone managing a business or making recommendations. Unfortunately it isn’t. Somewhere between traditional and new media, people replaced “investment” with “influence”. Any activity that doesn’t improve relationships with paying customers, increase profits, or reduce costs is a waste of resources.

Including the expected return on investment in your strategy makes it a priority. When team members know that generating a return is a requirement, they think differently. There will be fewer recommendations to do things because everyone else is doing them and more “let’s do this because it benefits our company.”