Why It’s Critical To Connect Your Offline & Online Marketing

All of the buzz about digital marketing has left an old, familiar and still viable marketing medium in the dust: offline programs. The marketing divide between online and offline spheres can be so epic, in fact, that it’s not uncommon inside companies to see separate print, Web and social marketing teams using different strategies and launching campaigns that are in no way connected.

But those silos only exist inside marketing departments. The customer’s mind perceives one continuous brand. We live in a world where customers casually cross multiple marketing channels throughout the course of an hour and can see a kiosk ad, print promotion and social media campaign within moments of each other.

It’s no surprise that consumers tend to be distracted; recent research from Reponsys shows that customers tend to spend 30 seconds or less absorbing digital content, making it especially important to reach them on a variety of channels. Other research shows that they expect seamless access across channels, with a Multichannel Retail Survey finding that 40 percent of consumers said it was “very important” to have purchase choices both offline and online.

Seamless Brand Presence

Where we are still falling a bit short is seeing the thread between the different media and grasping the potential that lies there. An online car ad might inspire a customer to visit a dealer showroom, while another customer might test a laptop in person before buying it cheaper online.

Businesses are starting to understand this, and forward-thinking marketers are using tools to create a consistent brand experience between their print, social, mobile and Web campaigns. This kind of connection can drive an intensified impact across the entire marketing ecosystem and provide insight into how each channel, campaign and strategy influences one another.

Marketers can capitalize on that feeling of a seamless brand presence to drive a stronger interaction between online and offline channels. What’s needed is a marketing system that integrates offline display promotions and print advertising with digital marketing such as paid ads, banners and social media posts.

This isn’t about reinventing a whole new system, but rather connecting and leveraging existing initiatives to amplify both reach and conversion. The trick is creating a nonstop loop of activation that can exponentially multiply the ROI of your efforts in both worlds. Here’s how.

Driving Your Offline Audience To Your Online Programs & Vice Versa

Many sophisticated marketers are already taking these steps; but, they can’t be emphasized enough, as they really are low-hanging fruit to drive offline prospects to online channels.

A print or TV ad can supply a Twitter hashtag to drive conversation to social media, while calls-to-action can direct viewers to online programs. QR codes on kiosks and unique tracking URLs can be included to drive leads to online promotions. Even though they’re getting a bad rap, in my opinion QR codes still aren’t being used enough or used properly. They offer one of the easiest and most powerful conduits that can turn offline strangers into an online audience.

The pendulum swings both ways. A new VisionCritical study of leading social media platforms has found that they spark offline purchases as well as online sales. Digital marketing can also be used to provide a significant boost for trade shows, entertainment events, and other offline venues.

Consider, for instance, using social campaigns to promote an event. Create an official hashtag to share with vendors, attendees and speakers, and you’ll be able to track, influence and respond to conversations specific to the event. Promoting the event on your Facebook page will allow you to track “likes” and gain insight into the leads who are interested.

Once the event is underway, you can measure how much of the attendance originated online by offering a special giveaway for social “friends” in attendance. You can also monitor customer or attendee reactions online and respond to questions, or post additional information on the conference website. After the event has ended, all of your social activity will provide you with a wealth of new leads to follow up on and new relationships to build both online and offline.

Making A Lasting Impact

When it comes to connecting your online and offline programs, one element is the most valuable of all: relevance. A recent infographic from VentureBeat found that three-fourths of consumers want businesses to use personal information to improve their shopping experience, while 64 percent place a priority on receiving relevant offers.

By injecting customized creative assets into your content, you can launch promotions that are especially powerful at local and regional levels. The secret is using the right tools to amass rich segmentation data and then using that information to target customers with campaigns that speak to their goals and challenges.

As an example, an enterprise brand could co-brand with carefully chosen local retail venues to personalize their brand presence. By incorporating an element like a regional sports team into digital collateral, the brand can make a vivid and personal impact by connecting an online campaign to a customer’s offline life. Campaigns can also be measured and updated in real time to be tailored more precisely.

Connecting offline and online marketing activities is about more than strengthening brand presence. It’s about leveraging existing brand capital and assets to make a powerful impact. The time for siloed programs and disjointed collateral is over. Through relevant, personalized campaigns that permeate the customer’s online and offline worlds, you can synergize your marketing ecosystem – and fuse all of your programs into one magnetic brand experience.

About The Author

Andy Lombard
Andy Lombard is the co-founder and CEO of SocialWhirled, where he oversees the innovation, growth and direction of the company as it evolves the social, mobile and digital publishing landscape.