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Integrating online and offline marketing

Integrating online and offline marketingWith the digital age revolutionizing the way we communicate with each other,  some say that marketing has become more complex. However, whether you run an online or an offline business, the principles remain the same and integrating both online and offline marketing can help your business engage new customers.

Marketing is still about reaching your audience with your desired message, generating interest and then converting that interest into sales (in the most cost-effective manner). What has changed is the way people consume messages and share information.

Technology has been a driving factor of this change with people spending a lot more time using email, iPods, the internet and cell phones, while still spending time with ‘traditional’ media such as press, radio and TV. We are consuming more media today than ever before. This media fragmentation means there are more choices for where to advertise than ever before so it’s difficult to choose which channel is right for you, let alone how you might integrate your efforts.

What’s the answer?

The answer lies with your customers. Consumers have regained control of how they receive marketing messages. They are now taking advertising mediums with them, choosing when they want to see ads and what type of content they want. It seems that the traditional’ forms of advertising no longer engage consumers.

So, if you can think like your customers and know how they behave, then you’re halfway there. Your customers are not very likely to respond and interact with only one form of advertising before making the decision to buy, so it’s important you map out their typical behavior before deciding where to invest your hard-earned money. Today’s consumers are very marketing savvy. They understand the value of their own data, they understand the value of their customer and they like to be talked to in relevant ways.

Getting cut- through
For example, if you were targeting white collar workers in your campaign, you know that they are likely to commute to work by car, bus or train between the hours of 7 and 9am in the morning and 5 and 7pm in the evening. So that means they are more likely to be reading the paper, listening to the radio, sending SMSs on their mobiles, or seeing outdoor posters near main transport hubs, than they are to be browsing the internet (although that is changing rapidly).

Advertising using these channels is likely to reach your audience, but these are fairly cluttered environments so your advertising creative will need to have high impact to get cut-through and be memorable. That’s where integrating online with your offline advertising can help. Integrating both online and offline advertising can help your business to engage with new customers, re-establish your brand or maintain conversations with the right audiences. Ensuring your web address and brand name are prominent means that you can use online search and your website to extend your communication and capture interest post exposure to your offline advertising.

Most consumers will start from a search engine, so make sure that you bid on search keywords that match your advertising. This includes catchy by-lines that you may have developed that people might remember (you’d be surprised how many people use tag lines to find websites from ads). Of course, include your brand and product names plus any acronyms or colloquial names for your business in your keyword list as well.

Driving traffic to your website
The destination from both your advertising and your search campaign is, of course, your website, so it’s important to integrate your website as part of the communication and sales process. Here are some ideas on how to drive traffic to your website from your offline advertising:

1.    Offer a discount voucher that can be accessed only from your website, and then redeemed in-store, over the phone or online. This provides a good call to action for businesses that aren’t able to offer online purchases, and also allows you to track the results of your campaign.
2.    Tell people they can experience more about your product on the website. For example: “Experience our product in 3D” or “Watch a video comparing our product with the competition”.  For example, print media advertising the Blackmores Sydney Running festival points interested runners to the http://www.byourbest.com website which contains a time-lapse video of the marathon route.
3.    Prompt people to “Find your nearest store” by TXTing their postcode to a dedicated phone number, or visiting the website. Using Google Maps is also a useful way to help your customers find directions to your store.
4.    Offer a free guide or e-book on a related topic to the product or service for download on your website. A good example is the Herb & Spice guide that is found on the www.masterfoods.com.au website which helps consumers in selection and product usage.
5.    Promote a newsletter whereby consumers can be informed of the latest product updates and promotions. Electronic newsletters are also a good way to extend your reach, as consumers can easily forward them to their friends.
6.    Testimonials are a great way to promote your products or services, and it’s a good idea to place these onto your website, and also incorporate the ability for customers to leave testimonials on your website. Video testimonials are becoming more popular and are a good way to provide people with a deeper understanding of your business.
7.    Make sure any offers you put in your advertising are included on your website, along with directions on where to buy your product, or how to make an inquiry.

Return on investment
It’s important to get the best return on investment (ROI) from your campaign by asking consumers to register their details in order to access added-value offers or promotions such as some of those mentioned above. Don’t ask for too much data, just their name and email address is a good start, plus their permission for future contact. That way you can start building a database of prospects whether they buy today or not, ensuring the best possible value from your advertising investment. Maintaining a dialogue will strengthen your relationship with your customers and allow you to gather deeper profiling information.

Another simple way of ensuring your promotions get maximum exposure is to include your campaign message in the standard footer of all employee emails (with a link to your website). If you are using Outlook as your email client, this is done by setting up an email signature You’d be surprised how many emails are sent out of your organisation on a weekly basis, and it’s crazy to ignore this as an opportunity to reach a wider audience, and probably one with which you already have a relationship. I’ve heard of these types of campaigns having an eight percent click-through rate, which is enormous compared to general banner advertising.

Getting the best results
To get the best effect from online/offline marketing integration you will need to time your campaigns to run concurrently and, of course, the creative should be consistent – but the research suggests running online and offline concurrently has a multiplying effect on the results. It’s imperative that you use the technologies available to track all channels of the sales funnel to measure effectiveness and optimise your creative and placements.

Your efforts will be rewarded with cost-effective campaigns that not only deliver sales results; they will also deliver an integrated brand experience for your customers.

-Jason Davey is director of digital marketing at Bullseye (www.bullseye.com.au), a full service digital agency with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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Jason Davey

Jason Davey

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