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.

In this article, I will cover:

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.

The proliferation of marketing channels means that integration is necessary for marketers to have a single view of the customer and for consumers to have a consistent brand experience (Smith and Zook, 2011). Researchers have found that marketing channel integration has a positive effect on customer loyalty through satisfaction (Frasquet and Miquel, 2017). Moreover, online and offline communication integration has a higher impact and is more cost-effective (Smith and Zook, 2011).

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.

Online marketing advantages and disadvantages

Advantages:

            • broad (international) reach
            • more granular targeting based on the decision-making stage/level of intent
            • automation
            • cost and time effective
            • measurable
            • personalisation
            • instant conversions

Disadvantages

            • intrusive (people use ad blockers)
            • technical issues on websites and advertising networks
            • specialised workforce is needed
            • high competition for customer attention
            • clutter
            • people get distracted and have a short attention spans
            • can’t reach audiences that are not internet savvy

Offline marketing advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

            • variety of channels (TV, radio, billboards, print, direct)
            • tangible, face-to-face experience
            • audience accessibility
            • credibility

Disadvantages:

            • longer conversion times
            • measurement and attribution issues
            • costly
            • limited audience targeting
            • time constraints

3 steps to integration

In a nutshell, channels can be integrated in three ways:

  1. Brand consistency – maintaining a consistent look, feel and message across online and offline. If a consumer comes across a leaflet inviting him to visit your website or sign up to your electronic newsletter, the website or the landing page should reflect the branding and the language on the leaflet. If you have a brick and mortar shop, your online presence should be an extension of your physical presence. This way, you can not only make your brand instantly recognisable, but you can also inspire trust. Design systems are an easy way to ensure consistency across all channels.
  2. Direct people from one medium to the other depending on your objectives. Invite consumers to visit your ecommerce website via TV or radio advertising or promote your next workshop on your social media channels and through pay-per-click advertising.
  3. Match keywords – use the same keywords in print ads and online paid advertising to reach your goals through integration.

From offline marketing to online marketing

Offline to website

The easiest way to direct consumers from offline channels to online ones is through calls to action. For example you could invite them to visit your website or social media channels through print collateral (flyers, leaflets, catalogues, pop-up banners), TV ads, radio ads or billboards. The call to action can be a simple “visit our website for more details” if your target is brand awareness or more specific such as “book your appointment now on www.yourbrand.com” if you’re aiming for conversions. It’s good practice to have your web address on all your print collateral even if there is no call to action.

QR codes (no, they’re not dead) are a great way to get consumers to discover your brand online. Nowadays marketers can look beyond the classic black and white design and get more creative with the code, making it more aesthetically pleasing, on brand and more entertaining. Below are some examples to inspire you.

 

QR codes Disney
Source Google Search
QR code glass of wine
Source Pinterest
qr code school of rock
Source qrmedia.us

Nike is a great example of how QR codes can be used for marketing integration and great in-store experience. Consumers can scan a QR code that’s on the wall in the shop to download the Nike app which then gives them member benefits. For instance, they can use the app to scan mannequins and have the shop assistants bring them the clothes in their size to the fitting room or use the Nike instant check out service.

QR code Nike
Source Engadget

Offline to social media

Just as with the website example, a call to action such as “visit our Facebook page for more details” or “Follow us on Twitter for regular updates” should do the job. Another way to encourage offline audiences to discover your online channels is to include your social media handles or icons on all your print collateral. When you run a social media campaign include the campaign hashtag on the collateral to encourage your offline audience to join the online conversation, which you’ll be able to mediate and track engagement levels for.

Marks and Spencer Fairies Christmas Campaign
Marks and Spencer Fairies Christmas Campaign. Source prweek.com

Offline to email

Email campaigns are an efficient way to grow your brand and business. The quality of your email list is vital for your campaign’s success, so it’s important to have a reliable way of collecting email addresses.

Trade shows are a great opportunity to collect emails because the attendees are more willing to give their details away due to the nature of the event. Attract them with a business card raffle or a questionnaire.

 

newsletter sign up on tablet
Source Google Search
trade show data capture form
Source handshake.com

If you own a physical shop, run promotions that require your customers to give you their details in exchange for a prize or a discount. Set up an event with giveaways and a box where customers can sign up for prizes. Many restaurants ask for their customers’ feedback at the end of a meal by giving them a short survey to fill in on a printed card or on a tablet. At the end of the questionnaire, there is usually a call to action for the customer to give the restaurant their email address. People tend to be reluctant to sharing their emails nowadays because of the amount of junk mail they get, so make sure to offer a valuable reward in exchange for their information.

restaurant newsletter sign up form
Source knowledgebase.constantcontact.com

If it is newsletter signups you’re after, then make sure to include the landing page URL on your print material. Don’t forget to use a customised URL so you can track where the registrations are coming from and identify the most effective channel.

Keep in mind! Whichever way you choose to collect emails offline, please make sure your list is GDPR compliant and your subscribers know what they’re signing up to.

Traditional PR to online channels

Look beyond press releases and think of PR stunts that will get people talking and sharing online. Your budget might not stretch to sending a car into space, however, a lot is possible when the low budget is compensated by a lot of creativity. Here are a couple of examples.

Cadbury built a giant thumbs up statue made out of chocolate bars to celebrate hitting 1 million fans on Facebook. The whole process was filmed and a fan was selected to place the last bar on top. An infographic containing details of the effort put into building the like button was published together with the video which has been seen over 260,00 times.

Lacoste replaced its famous crocodile logo with images of endangered species. Each T-shirt design was a limited edition run in the same number as many animals of the species were thought to be left in the wild. Needless to say, the T-shirts sold out immediately and the brand gained lots of coverage from the online press.

Lacoste PR campaign
Source prexamples.com

 

lacoste pr stunt results
Coverage and online shares for the Lacoste PR stunt

 

From online marketing to offline marketing

For businesses that have an offline point of purchase or offline channels work better for the bottom of the funnel, there are plenty of ways they can use online channels to draw audiences offline. For example, in B2B face-to-face interaction is more important than online interaction and offline lead generation presents a higher conversion rate than online methods.

Search engine to offline

With 63,000 searches per second every day on Google alone, you can’t afford not to optimise your website for ranking in search results. Make sure you set up Google My Business and you update it regularly. For example, listing a phone number on Google My Business will allow the increasing number of mobile users to call your office for enquiries. Having your address listed increases the chances that a user will visit your shop.

Have an event coming up? Running an offer for a limited time? Google My Business allows you to communicate all this information to online audiences and encourage them to book your event or go into your shop and make a purchase. Make sure you follow local SEO best practices in order for your business to appear at the top of the SERP and trigger the knowledge box.

If you’re running pay-per-click ads on Google, an extension introduced in 2016 enables viewers to text a business directly by clicking on the texting button. Businesses could benefit from this ad feature given that 65% of consumers would consider messaging to connect with a business. Another extension allows users to book appointments directly from their mobiles. The beacon technology offered by Google helps you to track offline footfall determined by Google ads.

Email to offline

Emails are an effective way of driving customers offline due to its personalisation, segmentation and interactivity benefits. Businesses can bring online marketing offline by inviting prospects to in-person events via email. Segmentation can be used based on the topic of the event to target relevant contacts. Integration can be extended at the event by having a tablet where guests can sign up live for the newsletter.

Take this Neal’s Yard example. The brand used email marketing to promote their upcoming workshop in collaboration with Petersham Nurseries and encourage its subscribers to enter a competition to win tickets to the event.

Neal's Yard email

Email invitations work both for B2C and B2B audiences. At Hallam we use email marketing to drive signups to our upcoming Nottingham Digital Summit.

Email workflows can be set up to take a prospect down the marketing funnel and then the sales team can be notified to call a user that has progressed through all the stages to close a deal.

Social media to offline

Organic and paid social media can be used to cause a variety of offline actions. Organic or paid posts and stories can raise awareness of your next concert/workshop, in-store discount or the addition of a new dish to your menu. The “Book now” call to action button on Facebook business pages allows users to book appointments. The button can also be set to “Contact us” and users are able to call your brick-and-mortar business. Instagram is another social network that allows users to book a table or make a phone call without leaving the app.

Website to offline

Similar to social media, websites can be used to announce your offline activities. Encourage users to call you or visit your shop or book an appointment or event through landing pages and calls to action.

Digital PR to offline

Making the headlines online can contribute to top of mind awareness and drive footfall. Are you launching a new product or opening a new branch? Send a press release out to online press outlets and get coverage online.

Doughnotts new shop press release
Source Leicester Mercury

Other methods of online and offline marketing integration

As mentioned at the beginning of the blog, brand consistency and matching keywords across channels will help integrate your marketing efforts. Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign is a case in point. The campaign won an Effie Award for its global integration tactics. Below you can see a list of which communication channels were aligned and used to transmit the message. The Snickers team achieved double their objective in just 3 months – grew total Snickers volume sales by 8.0% and singles sales by some 13.4%. You can read the full case study here.

Snickers campaign communications
Snickers communications touch points. Source Effie Awards

 

Do you have any other examples of integrated campaigns or tactics? Let us know in the comments below.

Bibliography

Buse, R. (2015), Marketing Channel Integration – A Review of Current Debates, Advances In Management, Vol. 8 (5) May

Smith, P. R. and Zook, Z. (2011), Marketing communications: integrating offline and online with social media, 5th ed., London, England: Kogan Page Limited

Frasquet, M. and Miquel, M.-J. (2017), “Do channel integration efforts pay-off in terms of online and offline customer loyalty?”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 45 Issue: 7/8, pp.859-873


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