Feb 2020 | The Perspective

Marketing 101: 5 Ways to Integrate Your Online and Offline Strategies

Customer journeys are changing shaped by offline and online media consumption. Let's explore how marketers can integrate the two mediums in their marketing strategy to help convey their brand message more effectively and drive action from audiences.

Online marketing might be the more popular and efficient marketing tool today, however the strategies that PR pros employ for offline marketing can still be beneficial and relevant.

If there’s any doubt about which strategy to employ, then you’re not making the most of both of these tools. It shouldn’t be a choice, since one of the best ways to maximise your marketing strategy is by merging both online and offline efforts.

Different strategies cater to different portions of your audience or customer base. By integrating online and offline marketing, you will be able to reach various audiences, as well as build a trusted and cohesive brand.

Why should you integrate offline and online marketing?

Technological developments have made buyers hyper-connected and empowered. They want to benefit from both the advantages of digital platforms (access, variety, interactivity) and the offline convenience of personal service and touching physical products (Busse, 2015). Customers expect to consume product information across channels whenever they want wherever they want, disrupting the linear buying journey. The channel where a product was discovered is not the same as the one where it is purchased.

Both online and offline marketing have advantage and disadvantages. The beauty of integrating the two types of marketing is that one’s advantages cancel out the other’s disadvantages so marketers get the best of both worlds.

Here are five ways to merge your online and offline marketing to get the best out of your marketing efforts:

1. Keep your messaging consistent across all platforms.

The first (and most important) rule for creating an integrated online and offline marketing strategy is consistency. It’s vital that your brand represents itself consistently to build consumer recognition and trust. Consistent messaging allows customers to get to know your business and the message you’re sharing.

Inconsistent messaging never gets the chance to build familiarity. And, it may create confusion about your brand’s identity. Customers want an experience that they can depend on. This means offering the same promotions across multiple channels. It also means using consistent branding, including your business name, company’s logo, colours, and language so that they can recognise your business regardless of the platform they happen to find you on.

You’d be surprised how many companies have a business name that differs from their website, or multiple variations of a logo that are inconsistent and unrecognisable across marketing channels.

The easiest way to blend your online and offline marketing is to be consistent across all of your platforms.

2. Make full use of social media.

A TV slot may be 30 seconds, print ads are fractions of pages, but on your social media pages you decide how much people can see. You’re not restricted by time or space in the way that you are with commercials in traditional media. Use this flexibility to build on your offline campaigns with extra content on social media.

For example, Old Spice had one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time when Isiah Mustafa was ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’. Building on the ensuing social media discussion, they invited people to Tweet comments or questions to Mustafa. He would then answer a selection of the question in a series of exquisite YouTube videos just like this one.

3. Associate offline promotions with an online call to action.

There are many ways to promote offline marketing products through online methods. For instance, if you have a noteworthy TV ad coming out for a specific season or event, use social media leading up to the launch to boost its reach. You can create a countdown or show a preview on your website and social media channels to generate some excitement.

Online calls to action can be as simple as promoting a sale by encouraging customers to visit your store. In a similar way, offline marketing can be used as a way to promote online events and promotions.

4. Offer free giveaways and competitions & use online data to support offline efforts.

Use your offline marketing efforts to encourage your customer to share their email address. For instance, you can run a competition or free giveaway that requires customers to share contact information. However, don’t forget to include a check box for customers to opt out of receiving marketing emails.

One of the major boons of online marketing is that is can generate data about your customer.

Analysing customer behaviour on your website and social media profiles can provide insight into customers visiting your store. Through online marketing you can get information about things like the best way to organise your store or what products to highlight.

5. Bring offline events online.

Accessibility and authenticity are becoming more and more important as Millennials and Generation Z gain power in the marketplace. These generations are seeking authentic interactions with the brands they patronise. So, create offline marketing events that consumers will truly want to experience.

Are you holding a launch party for a new product? Maybe it’s time for your semi-annual sale. Perhaps you’re planning a series of seminars. Or, you’re holding a fundraising event for a local charity. These offline events can reach a greater audience if you bring them online as well. You can announce and advertise your event online to your local social media followers. You can send email invitations to local customers from your mailing list.

But, don’t stop there. Get creative. Livestream your event and give people a reason to tune in. Offer rewards or discounts to customers who watch online and comment on social media. Share real-time photos from the event on Instagram and Facebook. Live-tweet the action on Twitter with witty (and brief) commentary. If your event features education content, you can charge for offsite viewers to tune in to the webinar. And, then market that webinar as a stand-alone product after the actual event. There are so many creative ways to bring your offline event online. So, don’t miss out on this opportunity to exponentially grow your event’s impact.