Changing channels: Best marketing plans combine online with offline

Best marketing plans combine online with offline

Unsurprisingly, some 70 percent of small to medium sized businesses in the U.S. plan to increase their digital marketing budgets this year.

The most savvy are also working to coordinate their online and offline campaigns, cherry-picking the best benefits of both.

That’s smart thinking, since today’s consumer often interacts with a variety of media on any given day, with some even watching TV, browsing the internet on their laptops and texting on their smartphones all at once. Fortunately, strategic cross-marketing campaigns can offer the best of all worlds; a recent study by Google found that U.S. retailers achieve 16 percent more search ad conversions when they use multiple devices to interact with customers.

“Consumer behavior is undergoing a massive shift: the consumer journey has fragmented from a series of predictable media sessions to hundreds of ‘micro-moments’ where people turn to the nearest device to solve an immediate need,” the Google study explains.

Your goal in planning for omnichannel, then, should be to create consistent messages that promote familiarity and trust with your brand across all media, encouraging customers to expect the same standards no matter how they choose to interact. Consider these suggestions for effectively combining your digital and offline marketing campaigns:

  • Use research and analytics to determine which devices are most frequented by your target audiences at what times, and target your ads accordingly. Fine-tune results along the way via social media surveys, A/B testing and similar methods; online research can be extremely helpful in drilling down into harder-to-measure offline audiences.
  • Set concrete goals for cross-marketing; for example, stage a Facebook campaign geared at adding 200 subscribers to your email newsletter.
  • Consider staging live events such as book signings, product launchings, open houses and trunk shows to your mix, optimizing social media to generate excitement.
  • Utilize QR codes in creative ways; e.g., offer customers access to discounts, product promotions, apps, videos, mixtapes, etc.
  • Use custom URLs for all your websites and web pages to better observe which offline customers are spurred to engage with you online.
  • Incorporate hashtags into your offline social media marketing to track responses that initiate offline.
  • Air TV teaser ads aimed at driving visitors to your website for more information.
  • Offer easy and appealing solutions for customers who prefer the power of voice; recent research shows customers responding to a prompt by phone convert 10 to 15 times more often than those responding online, while a whopping 25 percent of offline commerce overall is still influenced by phone calls.
  • Ensure your sales and customer service personnel are trained to the same standards no matter how they’re communicating with customers.

Finally, make your marketing messages as personal as possible whether appealing to online or offline audiences. Customers have come to want and expect that no matter what channel is being used.

“If you can find ways to develop more personalized outreach efforts, you’ll drive up interest in your products, brand or even retail location,” Search Engine Journal recently advised. “Engaging customers in both online and offline environments is important for things other than simply building up your brand. If you want to have an impact, you have to form a connection with the consumer that will turn their attention to your brand.”