So many brands suffer because they offer a fragmented customer experience. Even though marketing efforts require adaptation to various platforms and products, the resulting communication must reinforce the brand image and offer consistency, something marketers term integrated marketing communication or IMC. Fragmentation in marketing occurs when messaging doesn’t fit together to form an integrated whole.
When messages don’t work well in unison, consumers gain a muddled image of the brand that doesn’t help them categorize the brand as something that fits their lives. Fragmentation in marketing also creates a poor customer experience as consumers encounter different information across platforms For example, a customer may come to your business website and interact with your employees through a live chat service. However, when new questions arise and they return to the live chat to ask their questions, they’re given answers that don’t fit the ones they got during the prior chat or are told that there is an entirely different process getting answers. Even if this new system is very efficient, the customer still feels as though the company doesn’t have it’s act together and their impression of the business goes down.
What is fragmentation in marketing?
First, let’s be clear of our terminology. Here we’re not talking about fragmentation in your marketing but fragmentation in your marketing efforts, most revolving around communication.
Fragmenting your market, or in the parlance common in marketing, market segmentation, involves dividing the vast market possibilities into smaller, more homogeneous groups with different needs, wants, styles of communication, or other factors that make them different from the group as a whole. We often segment or fragment the market based on differences in demographics, like age or income, or geographic location. The best segmentation happens with respect to psychographics like values, beliefs, and attitudes. Thus, a fashion brand appealing to millennials features different product attributes, messaging, and even uses different communication channels than one appealing to baby boomers. That’s market fragmentation and it improves performance.
In contrast, message fragmentation is less benign and may damage your brand. Fragmentation in marketing involves muddled messaging, inconsistent marketing processes, dysfunctional customer experiences, and other failures to present a consistent brand to your target audience.
Causes of fragmentation
Most examples of fragmentation come about when different communication efforts work at cross purposes. The biggest cause of fragmentation comes when there’s a lack of coordination across teams charged with messaging across different platforms and customer teams responsible for implementing that messaging in their interactions with consumers.
For example, if your social media team crafts a very distinct, casual voice but your website team creates an experience that’s very serious and traditional. The result is that people don’t really know what your business is all about. That’s especially true when social media attracts visitors to your site with certain offers that the visitor doesn’t see immediately when visiting the website.
Consistency is essential in all aspects of your marketing communication and customer experience, so it’s very important that you deal with the fragmentation issue. If you think that fragmentation is a problem in your business, these are some of the best ways to deal with the problems caused by fragmentation.
Build an integrated marketing strategy
The solution for any marketing problem you encounter is building an effective marketing strategy, then implementing it successfully. Without adequate, in-depth planning, no element of your marketing produces the optimal performance you want. When it comes to integration, the lack of a marketing plan to guide everyone else results in fragmentation that keeps you from reaching your goals.
If you’ve never built a marketing strategy before or if you feel you need help to improve your marketing strategy, I wrote a series of posts about marketing strategy with embedded videos to get you started.
Hire an integrated marketing company
If you outsource your marketing, you must think carefully about the company you hire as the agency must possess broad expertise across both digital and traditional media or have great relationships with specialty agencies to ensure they achieve an integrated marketing effort.
For instance, some digital marketing agencies might work great at managing your Facebook page, but how good are they on Twitter and do they know the ins and outs of a good email marketing campaign? Or do you have a separate agency handling your digital advertising than the one in charge of content marketing.
When you have a number of different people running different platforms, you’re far more likely to have an issue with fragmentation and inconsistency of tone, imagery, and messaging. That’s why you should always hire an integrated digital marketing company that can effectively manage your strategy across all platforms. Rather than considering marketing on each platform separately, they create a cohesive strategy that considers them all one small part of a larger strategy.
Integrate traditional marketing methods
The other big mistake people make in creating an integrated marketing communication strategy is forgetting to integrate traditional marketing methods with their digital strategies. This often results because firms use different agencies for digital and traditional advertising since the skill sets and methods are dramatically different across these two communication channels.
If you use TV ads or magazine ads, you can’t think of them as a separate entity and you still need to make sure that you integrate them with your digital marketing. Ensure your tone is consistent throughout and coordinate one to the other using shared imagery, color schemes, fonts, and other elements as well as a shared tone and offer. For example, Starbucks uses the same shade of green and logo for everything from the aprons worn by baristas, to cups, to digital advertising, to email marketing.
Create multidisciplinary teams
Business processes are one of the major reasons that fragmentation is an issue. When you have a separate team for marketing and sales etc. people are focused on their own specific area and they don’t think that much about how to work in unison with other departments. This leads to problems with your salesforce sharing a different message than your online teams. For example, if you’re running a discount on your website but your sales team doesn’t know about the offer, consumers calling to place their order get a mixed message that is not only confusing but damages your credibility.
The best solution to this is to create multidisciplinary teams. You still need people with specific expertise, but you should also try to hire people that can create bridges between teams and help them work together more effectively.
If you solve the fragmentation problems that make your job less efficient, you’ll find your marketing campaigns are a lot more effective and your brand is much stronger.
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