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Old School Meets New School: How to Combine Traditional and Online Marketing

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Old School Meets New School: How to Combine Traditional and Online Marketing

Despite the vast changes in the marketing industry over the past twenty years, many basic tactics remain relevant today. The basics haven’t changed at all, if you think about it. As marketers, we are still faced with the same challenge: how do we get the brands we represent in front of the people looking for those products and services?

However, in today’s world, we’re afforded many more channels, strategies and tactics when it comes to efficiently investing our time and money. Many marketers are overwhelmed and feel pressure to resist change, continuing to use traditional offline marketing tactics, while others wholeheartedly embrace online marketing, leaving offline strategies in the dust. Neither path is truly optimal. In fact, marketers would be remiss to not only explore both channels’ potential, but to create an integrated strategy that allows online and offline tactics to work together.

We can, and should, choose an integrated approach because today’s consumer is actively consuming all types of media, both traditional and online. As a marketer, it is important to be in as many places as possible to increase your chance of capturing the consumer at a time when their intent is the highest. How, then, do you create a campaign that integrates both offline and online into a seamless marketing campaign?

While getting started can be a bit overwhelming, the reality is that, in many ways, it has never been easier to merge the two.

Incorporating Offline Efforts Online

Offline may not be the sales vehicle it once was, but it’s still a very powerful branding channel. In putting together an integrated marketing program, the first step is to take a look at your consumer decision journey and align each of your programs so you can identify where each strategy fits. Offline and more traditional tactics like television ads are great at building brand awareness and educating consumers of your products and services, which is ideal for reaching consumers who may not yet be aware of what your brand has to offer. But how do you capture that engagement and bring it online?

Invite them! Provide a web address on the television ad and use messaging to encourage customers to visit an online destination with incentives. Additionally, that same awareness building will help you get more value out of your high ROI programs such as search. Consumers who click on your search ads are further along in their purchasing path because they initiated the search, sparked by the offline efforts that led to your online ad.

Once you start your awareness campaigns, you can move even further down the consumer decision journey with more direct marketing activities such as direct mailers to help position you in a consumer’s consideration phase for potential purchases. A direct mailer will provide opportunities to educate consumers who have already been introduced to your brand. Again, the mailer should invite customers to an online space and engage them through a new channel. It’s a good idea to use a specific targeted landing page that directly references the messaging in the mailer, and to also run similar search campaigns at the same time to strengthen the effort. This allows you to hit customers at different purchasing points.

For example, not too long ago I had an entertainment ticketing client’s logo and website address displayed at the end of Super Bowl ad for an upcoming movie release. The charts below show the spike in impressions and clicks received during the time the television ad aired. The clicks are from paid search only, so it is a good representation of capturing traffic downstream online while offline campaigns create upstream interest.

Impressions and ClicksSource: The Search Agency

Bringing Online Efforts Offline

Conversely, it is in brands’ best interest to use online efforts to fuel offline tactics. Whether you’re going to be at a conference, hosting an event, or involved in a speaking engagement, using social media is a great way to have people show up offline. Use social media to both mobilize and to spread the message of an offline event.

Similarly, geo-targeted paid advertising can absolutely drive online customers offline and into brick and mortar stores for sales or other in-store offers. If a customer is using search to comparison shop for a new television and sees an ad for the product they want at a discount at a nearby location, that online ad could very well steer the customer away from the competition and into an offline sale.

Take Innovative Mattress Solutions for an example. The mattress retailer has about 150 brick and mortar locations without any e-commerce, which means all their online efforts result in-store conversions. Their product tends to see a lot of online research, but purchase in-store. Why? Customer behavior patterns indicate that people aren’t too keen on investing in a mattress they haven’t tested. So what online efforts drive offline activity? Online marketing director Brett Morris says,

We spend a lot of our money online doing SEM [search engine marketing] and things like that to drive daily sales. The mattress industry is not unlike a lot of other furniture retail, where you have certain huge shopping days. The three-day weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day, those are our Christmas. That’s the buying cycle for the industry. So, we’ve used display around those huge holidays to bring up our impression level to work in tandem with our print and television, and to reinforce messages.

In this multi-channel consumer world, the modern marketer needs to have one foot online and one offline to better connect with potential customers and their lives, which exist both on and offline. There is no advantage to limiting your tactics. By actively spreading your time and marketing budget across activities in both the offline and online realms, you will be able to add more consumers into your marketing funnel and position yourself for an increase in sales in the increasingly multi-faceted world of today’s consumers.


Featured Image Credit: Everett Collection via Shutterstock


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Rick Egan

Digital marketer focused on the evolution of ad programs from offline to online across the multi-device world. Current gig, leading ... [Read full bio]

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