Do the following situations sound familiar?
> You see a “buy one, get one free” offer being advertised on a billboard or fence sign. You take out your phone and go to the company’s e-store to avail it.
> You see an Ad on Facebook, announcing the opening of a new bakery, and decide to check it out on your way back from work.
Situations like these should ring a bell, because offline and online marketing are becoming one seamless market.
Your customers don’t make a distinction based on where they see your brand and where they buy your product, as long as they get value and convenience. Offline (conventional) and online media are strongly influenced by each other, and the following information reaffirms this fact:
OFFLINE TO ONLINE
The impact of offline advertising on online searches and sales has also been acknowledged by Google, among others. The exact numbers can be hard to measure in the real world. One thing is clear though: the number of “branded searches” on Google (number of search queries containing your brand’s or website’s name) now influences your SEO rankings
> Offline branding boosts online searches by 40%
> iSpot.tv has recently raised $21.9 million to track online impact of TV ads
> 87 percent of consumers engage with a second screen while watching TV
ONLINE TO OFFLINE
A lot has been written and several studies have been conducted about the impact of online marketing on offline purchases. For instance:
> Google and Facebook track in-store purchases to figure out whether their ads are effective
> As many as 88% of consumers research items online before buying them at physical stores.
> Although ecommerce and digital media are growing, 92% of the US retail sales still happen offline.
How can you Integrate Offline and Online Marketing?
It’s obvious that the effects of offline and online marketing and branding do spill across the imaginary boundaries that we marketers have created between the two types of media. You just need to look at the number of social media followers that famous brands have in order to be convinced. You have to be unique in order to develop your social brand.
Big budget companies have the resources to plan and execute huge integrated campaigns and grab a share of your customer’s mind. But, what can you, a small business do to tap the synergies that exist between the digital and conventional media? As the following strategies will uncover, you can do a lot many things.
Offline/Online Integration Strategy #1—Think “One Brand, Two Channels”
Think of yourself as a business owner and not an online marketer. Your goal is to increase your customers and sales, be it offline or online. Anyone who walks into your shop and then visits your website (or the other way round) should be able to tell instantly that both the properties belong to the same brand.
Do not get fixated on digital media when planning your marketing campaigns. This will ensure that your message and style remain consistent. You can adapt the design when you select a particular media later on.
How to do it?
> Use the same colors, fonts, logos, photos, and other design elements in-store and on-site
> Streamline offline and online shopping experience through similar deals, products, and customer service
> Select some creative brand symbols (Ronald McDonald, Col Sanders? Maybe something simpler) and use them on your site, social media, and in your shop
> Print your website URL and social media accounts on your visiting cards and stationery
> Make sure your business name, physical address, and phone numbers (NAP) is consistent across your web properties, directory listings, yellow pages, etc
How others are doing it?
Victoria’s Secret uses similar models and photos on its website and physical outlets.
Offline/Online Integration Strategy #2—Generate online publicity through offline marketing
Look for economical ways to display your brand/ad offline – for instance, you can place your brochures in cabs if you’re a hotel; or display your signage at a home improvement project you’re working on, if you are a contractor, etc.
How to do it?
> Post pictures of your outlet and staff through your social media channels
> Participate in trade shows and exhibitions and post live updates on social media
> Distribute free promotional items (coffee mugs, pens, wall- or table-clocks, etc) embossed with your company name, logo and website—also offer them through online competitions or free offers
> Get your vehicles wrapped and turn them into mobile billboards with a public service message—post pictures online
> Use snail mail to reinforce your online campaigns—
> Do Piggyback marketing—try to go for a joint campaign with a bigger brand, or associate your brand with a social trend or event
> Sponsor a community organization and display your branding at their events—share with your social media followers
> Plan in-store activities and promote them online—make online deals available in-store
> Make event videos and testimonial videos and post them to YouTube
> Find an out-of-the-box, innovative way of branding that may trigger an online social trend
How others are doing it
Branding with a Baaa!
Farmers and motorists in the UK were baffled to see a mysterious smiley face appear on hundreds of sheep up and down the country. The weird symbol was widely noticed and prompted social media influencers to start a hashtag #creepsheep. The story was quickly carried by mainstream media, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.
It was later discovered that the mysterious logo was a publicity stunt used by a local amusement park.
The Muppet Cupcakes
Character cupcakes were sent to prominent tweeters to promote the launch of The Muppet movie. It didn’t cost much, but earned thousands of dollars worth of publicity.
Offline/Online Integration Strategy #3—Digitize shopping experience
A recent study by Google revealed consumers might be just a bit too spoiled by smart-phones. Two in every three shoppers surveyed said they could not find the information they were looking for when they visited a physical store. Forty-three percent of them left in frustration. And 71% of the in-store shoppers who had smart-phones said their gadget had become essential to a good in-store shopping experience. Forty-two percent of shoppers search on smart-phones while shopping in store.
How to do it?
> Provide information about various sections of your store through your website or mobile app
> If your business has multiple locations, use location-based technology on your website to serve them the information about their nearest outlet
> Think about creative ways to display your twitter feed or Facebook comments/likes in your physical outlet
> Give your customers access to the online ratings and reviews of the products you sell—through an app or mobile search
> Offer online deals that customers can only avail at a specific store
> Give product recommendations and let the people know what their friends and family have purchased—64% of customers are more likely to shop in stores that provide specific product recommendations
How others are doing it
Hang on, Facebook fans
Fashion retailer C&A uses special clothes hangers displaying the number of people that have liked a particular item on Facebook.
Sephora to Go
Sephora cosmetics has a fantastic mobile app that gives customers information about their nearest outlets, what’s in store, makeup and beauty ideas and tips, special offers, and more.
The company recently rolled out another mobile app—Pocket Contour Glass—to offer its customers a more enriched in-store mobile shopping experience.
Offline and online mediums complement each other. There’s no question about it. Just because digital media agencies are good at what they do, you cannot discount the value of a conventional advertising. Offline and online are two parts of an inseparable whole, and joining them together completes the picture of your business in your customer’s mind.
Your turn to speak!
Did you enjoy the article? What’s your take on the topic? Would love to hear from you in your comments!