“It Only Works if it All Works”

5 studies to help higher ed marketers produce better integrated marketing communications

As consumers’ attention drifts among more and more media channels, we need to continually examine our media choices, strengthen the connections along the consumer’s path to purchase and remain consistently tethered to a strong, central brand idea. All considered, to keep the brand’s positioning strategically integrated and message consistent.

Below are five studies to help produce better results through an integrated marketing communications approach.

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When using an integrated approach, exposure to advertising placed in more than one channel increased search behaviors.


Dont stop at only using direct responses to measure effectiveness. There are indirect responses to advertising and many happen outside of a CTR.

Additional Findings:

An increase in online advertising lead to increased searches for the company’s brand

Across channels, an increase in total advertising expenditures lead to increased searches for the company’s brand online

Source: Laroche, M. I., Economakis, N. & Richard, M. O. (2013). Effects of Multi-Channel Marketing on Consumers’ Online Search Behavior: The Power of Multiple Points of Connection. Journal of Advertising Research. 53(4). 431–443.

In comparison to single-channel campaigns, multi-channel campaigns positively affect explicit (aided) measures- brand recognition, recall, attitude. Similar messages presented in separate media will be encoded differently, developing a broader, more complex memory network.


Instead of looking at digital advertising as the primary direct response channel, use it to drive direct response across other media (search, email, etc). In fact, high-quality and well-branded digital advertising may have more of an impact on indirect effects versus measurable conversions.

Source: Vandeberg, L., Murre, J.M.J., Voorveld, H.A.M. & Smit, E. G. (2015). Dissociating explicit and implicit effects of cross-media advertising. International Journal of Advertising. 34 (5). 744–764.

Across multiple categories, study found synergistic effects across social media, email marketing and television. Study suggests that social media can play a role strengthening consumers’ relationship with the brand by encouraging them to buy across several product categories. The study also found that social media + television resulted in a lift in both customer spending and cross-buying. The combination of social media and email marketing had an even higher percent increase in buying behavior.


Digital advertising and email marketing campaigns will drive traffic to social media. While social media strategy may be laid out a month(s) in advance, message synergy between paid and organic content is vastly important. Does the most current organic content on brand’s page match or reinforce the brand’s current campaign? Similarly, if cross-buying is a product of consumers’ trust in known product offering, do institutional offerings — product-like benefits (internships, study abroad ) — produce similar effects? If so, what shows up on an institution’s page during paid campaigns should consider related benefits and their place within campaign platform.

Source: Kumar. A., Bezawada, R., Rishika, R., Janakiraman, R. & Kannan, P. K. (2016). From Social to Sale: The Effects of Firm-Generated Content in Social Media on Customer Behavior. Journal of Marketing. 80 (1). 7–25.

Exposure to a campaign which uses two different media is more likely to influence the psychological processes known as forward encoding and multiple source perception. Forward encoding describes a “priming” of consumer’s interest and attention to an ad in the second medium. Multiple source perception describes the persuasive effects of cross-media messaging, when perceived to be from independent sources.


According to the study, forward encoding and multiple source perception were much less pronounced when web exposures were increased. If higher education case studies are any indication of how lead generation campaigns are created, maintaining budgetary considerations, creative considerations and marketing mix considerations focused primarily on optimizing digital advertising neglects important and impactful indirect effects and actions in the lower parts of the funnel.

Source: Voorveld, H. A. M., Neijens, P. C. & Smit, E. G. (2011). Open the black box: Understanding cross-media effects. Journal of Marketing Communications. 17 (2). 69–85.

Termed the “kicker effect,” campaigns that combine television and digital media were found to be more effective in driving ROI compared to television alone. This synergy was more pronounced in high-involvement categories, where the combination was shown to drive search-related behavior.


I get it. Not everyone has a television budget. But there are media moments for institutions of higher ed. Athletic events, news events and alumni news all have the ability to impact awareness and drive search behavior. Knowing that television has the ability to drive search and social, optimizing ad campaigns for these moments can create channel synergy. In terms of search, higher ed marketers should create media plans that optimize keywords for brand-related queries first and optimize category keywords during the long-tail.

Additional Findings:

Between different types of digital advertising, mobile video was 126 percent more effective in driving ROI than desktop video

Campaigns are more effective across multiple platforms when message is unified than not

Source: Snyder, J. & Garcia-Garcia M. (2016). Advertising across Platforms: Conditions for Multimedia Campaigns. A Method for Determine Optimal Media Investment and Creative Strategies across Platforms. Journal of Advertising Research. 56 (4): 352–367.

Strategy @Up&Up