How to converge online and offline marketing

Katie Ashford, General Manager - Group Marketing & Communications, Ovato

Trying to strike a balance between online and offline marketing efforts can feel overwhelming. Ideally, they both need to work together, but trying to converge them can feel like an impossible task in any size of organisation. Then there’s the confusion of how to do it. But a happy marriage between technology and marketing can coordinate a seamless customer experience and give you a competitive advantage.

Here’s Ovato’s guide to six proven tactics used by leading marketers to unite online and offline marketing efforts. These practices ensure that your marketing focuses on the customer and provides more measurable metrics. To differentiate between the two channels:

Online marketing is any form of promotional activity leveraging the internet, e.g. display ads, email campaigns, mobile marketing and social media.

Offline marketing is promotional activities that don’t involve the internet, e.g. direct mail, coupons, loyalty programs, TV, radio and print ads, billboards, fliers, posters, stickers, postcards.

So, here’s where you start:

1. Use email to determine direct mail spend

We all know direct mail is highly effective, but it’s an expensive tactic if sent out blindly. We also know that today’s consumers use online and offline channels to make buying decisions. Email is the digital stitching to hold these pieces together. A highly cost-effective marketing channel, email can function as a data collection or engagement tool, as well as triggering actions that might cost more. For instance, a direct mail follow-up to an email response would get more bang for buck in conversions than sending unsolicited print materials.

How might this look? Say you manage a gym that has an important window of opportunity around the end of winter. A look into the database would show the ex-members who have most recently engaged with newsletter content. Rather than sending everyone a “Spring into action with these early bird prices” printed gift certificate, you could use the data as part of a reactivation campaign for a newly segmented list. This requires a simple workflow sequence that triggers a gift certificate to ex-members who haven’t opened any emails in winter.

2. Send geo-location push notification offers

Beacon technology gives everyone from retailers to sports clubs the ability to create highly targeted offers. This could begin with something as simple as adding SMS opt-ins to your online forms, so you can send timely information when customers are nearby. For instance, a sports team with an app could do a survey about match attendance and collect data points like whether members typically attend games with children. A beacon located in the stands could detect when a member is close by and push an in-app notification to their mobile device: “Scarves and beanies are 30% off with a free beer holder if purchased before the end of the first half!” This kind of tailored offer enhances the fan experience and offers a greater incentive for an unplanned purchase.

3. Drive offline traffic online with vanity URLs

Shortened URLs are easy to remember and perfectly suited to specific campaigns. You could put an ad in a print publication with a short URL for a landing page that has an opt-in box for more information. If they visited the page but didn’t fill out the opt-in box, you can use Facebook ads to re-target them. For example, a resort in Queensland could run ads on billboards in Tasmania with a unique shortened URL and then retarget those visitors on Facebook to “beat the cold winter and head north”.

4. Use an Event app to attract, capture and manage new customers

Events create an opportunity to expose your brand to new audiences by using themed-based occasions, known as ‘experiential marketing’. Once these new customers are exposed and their data captured using registrations and opt-ins, you get a new base of customers to continue providing value. The promotion of events can involve influencers, social and email campaigns, or any number of traditional offline tactics. These experiences will shape your audiences’ interactions and perceptions of your brand.

Once you decide on the best kind of event to promote your business, use an app to organise and communicate with attendees. Better yet, follow up with relevant and personalised content based on the information you gather in the registration process or even use it for research purposes with surveys.

There are many standalone event apps, both paid and free, with a wide range of features and capabilities depending on the scale of your plans. These should feed into your existing marketing technology platforms if the capability isn’t already available. The key is to use an event app that serves your strategic purpose to attract, capture and manage new customers for follow-up offers and communication.

5. Using online marketing to track in-store promotions

Loyalty promotions are invaluable opportunities for further customer spending. The most successful loyalty programs offer tangible, easily accessible incentives rather than a vague accumulation of points towards a distant discount that is often small and barely achievable.

A loyalty program connected to a CRM that tracks and logs all purchases gives you the ability to segment repeat customers. These customers can be offered uniquely coded coupons for use in-store. This personalisation cuts through the marketing clutter and offer unique value for customers. You can then attribute coupon-driven offline purchases to your online marketing efforts and give your business further customer insights for future campaigns.

6. Promote online channels with your offline presence

Your brand presence in any printed or offline media involves more than just a logo. All creative art around your brand should include social handles, URLs, and coupon codes to give your customers deeper engagement with your online channels. A unified approach that integrates all these elements will also build a unique identity for your business and help it to stand out.

Conclusion

The integration of your online and offline marketing activities will add tremendous value to the revenue and strategic goals of your business. With so many existing and emerging digital channels it can seem overwhelming – but you don’t have to do it all at once.

Start with just two channels, say email and direct mail, and start practising a coordinated response to customer actions. Once the ball is rolling you can start to expand from there to include in-store coupons, events and so on, building an integrated marketing strategy.

Over time you gain valuable experience in coordinating campaigns and be on a path towards a strong cross-channel integration of marketing campaigns. This will drive new customers to your brand, retain existing customers who are enticed to spend more, and provide solid justification for the returns your team has contributed towards overall revenue growth.