How to Integrate Online and Offline Activity to Make More Informed Marketing Decisions
How people consume and engage with a brand differs online and offline. Both are important for nurturing consumers and moving them along the journey to conversion. Integrating your online and offline marketing strategies can help to deliver a consistent brand message, and is more effective at driving action from consumers than treating both mediums in silos. In this article, I examine why businesses should look to integrate their online and offline marketing, and how successful integration can help campaign teams make more informed decisions.
Why is it Important to Integrate Online and Offline Marketing?
Customers want to benefit from the advantages of both online and offline services, consuming information across all channels whenever and wherever they decide. They want the ease of buying through digital platforms and the personal offering that comes with buying products in-store. While it's important to ensure your offline and online marketing strategies cater to the differing wants and needs of your audience at each touchpoint, integrating your offline and online activity provides a consistent message, which will help to build a trusted and cohesive brand.
Having a cohesive and consistent experience across online and offline platforms is essential to creating the right experience for your customers; inconsistency creates confusion and mistrust. For example, if you use a particular type of branding for a TV ad that encourages users to visit a page on your website, but when they arrive they're met with something they don’t recognize, they may be unsure if it’s the right website or whether you're a trustworthy brand, and they'll be more likely to leave without converting. Having consistency across both online and offline mediums is the key to a successful, cost-effective marketing strategy.
How to Integrate Your Online and Offline Marketing Strategies
Here are five ways you can integrate your online and offline marketing to increase both online and offline sales:
1. Use one to promote the other.
You can promote offline marketing products through online methods, and vice versa. For example, you can drum up excitement ahead of the release of a big TV ad campaign by sharing teasers and snippets on social media or creating a countdown on your website. In addition to creating anticipation and excitement, this will mean consumers are more likely to notice and pay attention to the ad when it does air. Alternatively, TV and radio ads can be used to push offline consumers to your website for an online event or promotion. Spreading your message through both channels helps it to reach a larger audience and is a more effective use of your marketing budget.
2. Tie up your online and offline data.
Joining up your online (analytics) and offline (CRM) data can help you to build an in-depth customer profile and better understand the customer journey. Once integrated, the data can be used to inform your marketing strategy — e.g., by bidding more aggressively on high-value customers through paid media campaigns, or by creating localized ads that aim to increase footfall if you know in-store sales do better than online sales.
3. Ensure brand consistency.
Synergy across your online and offline branding is crucial for successful integration. If a consumer comes across a physical marketing campaign such as a leaflet, the digital equivalent should reflect the branding and language on the leaflet. If you own stores, your website should be an extension of your physical presence. This familiarity between online and offline marketing helps build trust with your audience and encourages customers to use both channels for purchasing.
Where possible, tie up customer service too. Customers want to be able to contact brands in one channel and continue the same conversation in another.
4. Use social media for offline events.
Use social media to promote and increase interaction at offline events. Consumers can use your social media account to participate in contests, polls, and share photographs during an event, increasing engagement, growing your online presence, and making your audience feel like it's part of your brand. One of the best ways to do this is through hashtags. Catchy hashtags have become part of brand property and make it easy for consumers to find and join online conversations about events and campaigns.
5. Encourage your offline customers to go online.
In the same way you should encourage your online customers to engage more with offline events, you should direct your offline customers to connect with your brand online. From having your social media handles and website URL on receipts and banners, to offering in-store discounts to users who have shared your posts or “checked in” online, getting customers to engage with and follow your brand online makes it easier for you to continue nurturing the relationship.
Integrating your online and offline marketing efforts creates a much smoother experience for the consumer, allowing them to move through the customer journey much more easily. It also increases brand familiarity and awareness, factors which will help your brand stand out from competitors.
Chris Attewell is the CEO of Search Laboratory, an integrated digital marketing agency.
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Chris joined Search Laboratory in 2012 and has helped clients including VISA, glh Hotels and Citrix to grow their online traffic and revenue during that time. As CEO, Chris provides strategic leadership and direction for Search Laboratory’s operations in the UK and the US, working with clients and internal teams to deliver profitable online customer acquisition campaigns across multiple countries.