Integrating Offline and Online Marketing:
Step by Step to Success
“What’s the most effective way to reach my target audience?” Marketers have been asking this question since horse-and-buggy days, and there are more options now than ever before. In the 20th century, marketing methods included magazine and newspaper ads, direct mail, catalogs, door-to-door flyers, community events, and a number of other alternatives. With the advent of the Internet, social media and mobile apps, choosing a marketing medium has become even more difficult. The number of options seems endless, and no one wants to waste money on a campaign that fails to produce results. However, with a logical, organized approach to this challenge, you should be able to combine your offline and online efforts to achieve success.
Message First, Medium SecondBefore you decide how to send out your message, you need to decide what that message will be and what you want it to accomplish.
- Set your goals for this campaign. Do you want to increase sales, get more customers on your mailing list, drive more traffic to your website, promote an upcoming event?
- Decide on the overarching message and the call-to-action you want to convey.
- Determine your target audience, and whether you want to reach existing contacts or attract new people.
- Create a consistent campaign by using the same images, fonts, slogans and key words across all media.
Aim for the Target
Invest in some research to discover as much as you can about the audience you want to reach. If your company doesn’t have the capacity to do this research, consider hiring a consultant to make use of all the demographic and consumer preference data that’s available now. (Information on how you can use this "Big Data").
- Offline: What publications do they read (or do they read magazines at all)? What TV or radio programs attract their attention?
- Online: What websites do they typically visit? What social media are they likely to use (or do they use social media at all)? If your market is business owners, there’s no sense paying per-click on a platform that’s used mostly by teenagers.
- Are they likely to use mobile apps? If so, it may be worthwhile to develop one for your company.
- Using this data, create a marketing mix that fits your target demographic.
1 + 1 = 3
Integrating your offline and online marketing efforts can produce a great deal of synergy if done correctly. Launch all the components of your campaign at the same time, using consistent messaging, and make sure that offline and online components complement each other. Here are a few of the ways you can accomplish this:
- Include your website URL and information about your social media pages on every letter, postcard and magazine ad.
- Each piece of printed material should encourage people to visit a dedicated landing page on the internet for more information or for a special offer.
- Every web page, social media home page and email should display your physical location and a contact telephone number.
- Use mobile check-in apps at your physical locations, a technique known as SoLoMo (social, local, mobile). This is most effective if you offer a reward or discount for checking in with apps like Yelp and FourSquare.
- Use social media campaigns to promote an event like a grand opening or tent sale. Setting it up as an “event” in Facebook and creating an official hashtag for the event can help you track engagement.
- Consider using QR codes on printed materials to allow people to easily access information about your company or product.
Measure Your Results
Marketing isn’t an exact science, and your campaigns have to be constantly monitored to make sure they’re achieving the results you want. If not, you may have to readjust your strategy “on the fly” to get the best return on your investment.
One way to check your results is to create specialized landing pages for various marketing efforts. For example, if your campaign is advertising Fabulous Candy Bars, you may send out an email encouraging people to visit FabCandyBar.com for a coupon for a free candy bar. In-store displays may list FabCandyCoupon.com as the place to visit. By comparing the number of visits to each URL, you can determine which one produces better results and adjust accordingly.
Bottom Line: While online marketing is certainly here to stay, there will always be a place for offline marketing as well. Learning how to use them both together to create integrated campaigns will pay big dividends.