[Advanced] How to Integrate Online and Offline Content

Most articles about improving marketing efforts these days focus on online content marketing strategies. And for a good reason – the majority of consumers do spend a lot of time online, and more people than ever before are connecting with businesses, making product decisions, and exercising their buying power through the Internet.  However, while online efforts are critical to marketing success, consumers are also exposed to the offline content. As such, if your online content is amazing, but you have no offline presence, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to connect with a broader customer base.

While integrating your online and offline marketing strategy might sound great in theory, doing so in practice isn’t always as straightforward. For a how-to guide on combining your Internet and non-virtual approach, read on:

Promote Your Offline Presence Through Online Means

As a business with a real physical location – or at least real people – you’re bound to have some sort of presence in the offline world. Even if you don’t have an actual store – you’re ecommerce based only – your business might participate in community charity drives, host events, or exhibit at a tradeshow. So, how do you drive people to your booth, encourage people to attend your event, or get people to come into your store? Online efforts, like social media, can offer a great solution for drawing consumers to where you are in the real, physical world. Promote your physical locations and events through the Internet, and even consider offering special promotions or deals to those who meet with you in person but discovered you online. For example, if a visitor to your booth at a trade show found out about your event through social media, offer them a $5 off coupon or a free gift for showing up.

Freebies for Check-ins

Mobile check-ins are trendier than ever before, and companies like Foursquare and Yelp have made a killing by providing consumers with the ability to “check-in” online to a physical location that can be viewed by their social media community. An online check-in to a physical location is a brilliant way to bridge the gap between online and offline marketing, especially if you offer freebies or other rewards for online check-ins. Not only can offering rewards help to integrate online and offline marketing, but it can also help business profits to soar, too. For example, if you’re a coffee shop that’s traditionally dead between the hours of 10 AM and noon, why not offer a 20 percent discount to customers that show up between that specific two-hour period and check-in online? You’ll attract more customers, increase ROI, and attract consumer attention.

Use Offline Ads to Capture Customer Attention and Redirect It Online

Any author will tell you that the key to writing a great chapter in a book is to conclude the chapter with a cliffhanger, the mysterious ending that leaves the reader bursting with suspense and curiosity, forcing them to turn the page and continue the story.

In this sense, writing a book is very much the same as developing a good advertising strategy; you need to tease the audience just a little bit, inspiring the desire to find out more. If you want to sync your online and offline marketing efforts, creating a cliffhanger in your online advertisements that forces your audience to go online to discover the rest of the story is a perfect way to do so.

For example, posting an extremely interesting part of a photo, video clip, or out-of-context phrase that is engaging and catchy can help to draw user attention. Then, instructing viewers to go online to see the full, or in-context version, can result in a lot of positive web traffic for your company. Even if you’re an e-commerce only business, you can still use offline promotions in this way to advertise your business and attract users to your site.

Post In-store Happenings Online

If you have an actual brick-and-mortar, physical shop and you don’t use an ecommerce platform, or generate less than 50 percent of your revenue online, you can still use the Internet to your advantage and connect offline happenings with online content.

In a very fundamental sense, having a Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Google+ page will give you a platform for talking about in store promotions, products, and services. But, you can also become more creative with it by basing your online content exclusively on what’s actually happening in your store. For example, if you’re a flower shop, posting a picture of your bouquet-of-the-day is a great idea; or, if you’re a restaurant, asking customers to fill out a comment card and posting one per day on your social media pages is fantastic for integrating offline and online marketing.

Use Offline and Online Metrics for Optimal Success

For years, businesses have been gathering offline data. Return-on-investment, profit margins, market growth potential, customer loyalty, and the economic value of products and services have all been used to measure how a business is faring and to create marketing strategies. With the advent of e-commerce sites and online content marketing for businesses, new metrics have entered the playing field, such as the number of leads, conversions, and click-through rates (CTRs).

If you want to optimize the success of your business’s marketing efforts both online and offline, you can use both offline and online metrics when designing campaigns for the real world or the Internet world. What’s more, you can start pairing your offline and online marketing strategies (using the tactics mentioned above) and start tracking those combined efforts. For example, what’s your ROI on using social media to promote an offline event? How many in-store customers did it result in? How many online leads? Furthermore, you can use offline events and data to create great and targeted online content.

The Importance of Syncing Online and Offline Marketing

Creating two different strategies for your online and offline marketing approach, or choosing to forgo one altogether, is more than risky; it’s time-consuming, expensive, mentally-draining, confusing to the consumer, and ultimately ineffective.
Integrating online and offline marketing efforts can help to deliver a clear and consistent message to your consumers, attract more customers to both offline and online purchases, and build brand recognition over time.

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