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An IMC approach to SEM, SEO and SMM

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Apologies for the acronym soup I’ve served up today. Before we indulge in the main course, here’s the menu in brief:


IMC stands for Integrated Marketing Communication. According to Wikipedia, IMC is a “holistic approach to marketing” that “aims to ensure consistency of message and the complementary use of media” (IMC, Wikipedia, 2010).


SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing. In many cases, search marketing includes a wide variety of disciplines but for the sake of this article, when we refer to SEM we will be referring to pay-per-click search advertising. This includes sponsored advertising on the Google, Yahoo and Bing search and display networks.


If you are an avid reader of this blog, you will likely already have some idea of what SEO is. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation (or, for the Americans reading this, Search Engine Optimization!). This involves the process of optimising your website in a bid to improve your search engine rankings on the keywords that are most valuable to you. SEO is achieved through a multitude of visible website changes (on-page SEO) and non-website (off-page SEO) strategies.


A relatively new acronym in the online marketing field, SMM simply stands for Social Media Marketing. This involves harnessing the communication and viral power of social media platforms in order to achieve a particular marketing objective.

The Main Course

Ok. Now that we know the dishes, it’s now time for the special – a combination of the four!

Consistency. This the main ingredient in a quality IMC campaign. IMC involves creating a consistent tone, character, appearance, personality and message across your entire marketing mix. IMC has been widely accepted as the most effective way to cut through media clutter and deliver a single minded brand proposition to your target market.

You have probably already experienced a quality Integrated Marketing Campaign without realising it. Consider Optus. The way Optus have developed their IMC campaign is through the use of a consistent brand theme throughout all of their visible customer touch points. This theme of course, revolves around the brand colours yellow and turquoise and the use of wild animals in all of their marketing discourse (open a new browser/tab and check out their website now – you’ll see what I mean).

So how can SEM, SEO and SMM be integrated into an IMC campaign? Here are a few tips:


  • Ensure that you develop your PPC advertising campaigns to include keywords that are utlised in your offline marketing efforts (for example brand slogans, tvc messages, etc)
  • If your brand has a recognisable and distinctive brand personality, try to incorporate this personality into the writing of your ads.
  • If you have a special offer or promotion running offline, replicate and reinforce this offer though your ad copy in the search engines.
  • Let users know they have landed in the right place by integrating your landing page/website design with offline marketing themes.


  • Like with SEM, make sure you have optimised your website for keywords and phrases that a potential customer might type in after ingesting your offline marketing material.
  • Increase your search engine real estate by dominating the most valuable keyword groups relating to your industry. This will increase your branding and will allow you to reinforce your integrated marketing message every time a user searches for a relevant term in your industry.
  • Make sure that, in making on-page SEO changes to your website, that you are able to create a balance between SEO and readability so as to maintain a clear and consistent marketing message.


  • If you have an actual brand character, consider integrating this character across all of your social media channels. Brand characters are very powerful marketing tools and work well to create instant brand recognition and connection.
  • Once again, if you have offline promotions running, you can boost the profile of this promotion through a creative social media marketing strategy.
  • If you have decided on the brand tone and personality you would like to convey to your audience (are you young with attitude or conservative and corporate?), make sure to convey this personality in your social media interactions. A great example of a brand with a consistent brand personality and theme is Virgin (cheeky, red and white, casual, innovative, slightly (and ironically) anti-corporate)).

Mmm delicious…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick taste test on some ways you can incorporate SEO, SEM and SMM into your integrated marketing campaigns.

Please feel free to add a comment below if you:

  • Did or didn’t agree on any of the points,
  • Know of another good IMC example?
  • Or simply have a question about this post!
Reload Team
Reload Team

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