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Online or offline? It’s easy to find debates between marketeers about whether digital marketing or traditional marketing are best — and which route best serves specific types of businesses.
The answer is neither or both. The best solution is to use offline AND online marketing tools to build the best solution for your business. Your customers don’t see your business as two separate businesses one online, one offline. Does it make sense for you to look at your marketing as separate streams? How do you build a unified marketing approach? What are the best practices for online marketing and offline marketing? What metrics should you watch for?
Shane Lenton the CEO of Cue Clothing, described Cue’s online and offline marketing strategy this way, “It is all one channel for us.” Cue’s approach is so unified that there is no online fulfillment center — orders are fulfilled from within brick and mortar stores, a truly radical strategy. Lenton’s success with Cue demonstrates the power of online and offline marketing as a single system.
Online Driving Offline
It may be easiest to imagine the ways that online activities can drive offline sales. Social media posts may mention specials. Customers do look online to find the lowest prices, the best product, or which stores provide the best service. They then visit stores to actually make their purchase. Not all online shopping leads to online purchases. Many customers prefer to actually see the products that they are interested in before they make their purchase. For these consumers, powerful online marketing can help to drive sales.
Consumers act quickly after a product search to make a purchase — 50% of users who search for a product with a smartphone visit the store of their choice within 1 day! Keep in mind that a huge piece of online marketing is still building positive word of mouth, which continues to be the most powerful tool for driving conversion online or offline.
Online marketing also provides a tool for promoting festivals, in-store sales and other events that have no online component. This is why you see massive social media and online discussions about offline events like Apple product presentations, scientific conferences and even massive events like Comic-Con, Coachella and South by Southwest.
Offline Driving Online
Marketing is not a one-way street — your interactions with customers in the real world can help to drive business to your online presence. Signs in stores, bag stuffers, flyers and many other in-store paper communications can feature web addresses, social media urls, QR codes and other features that help customers to find your online presence. Combine a QR code with a great call to action and watch your website traffic grow!
In-store promotions can encourage your customers to promote your business online. Restaurants might ask their customers to tag the business online for a discount on a meal. Similar techniques can encourage online reviews at sites like Yelp. Online marketing is powerful, but online marketing by your fans and customers is the super tool of the marketing world.
The Power of Relevance
Both online and offline marketing both grow exponentially in power by the use of relevance. To maximize relevance you need to create campaigns that speak to what your customer needs and wants. How do you discover these needs and wants? The beauty of combining online and offline marketing is that it becomes easier to gather the data required to increase relevance. Data can be collected online to understand customer interests, but through the use of powerful point of sales system data about actual customer purchases can be used to build profiles of customer interests, needs and wants. The key now becomes the aggregation of the data to build the best campaign.
If you would like to find out more about merging online and offline marketing, please contact our online marketing team.