No one would openly deny that online and offline marketing channels are all part of one system, where each element supports numerous others, as well as the system as a whole. However, this fact often slips people’s minds when it comes to actual marketing strategy planning and execution.
It doesn’t matter if you are an international company or a smaller local business, as long as your marketing team has more than one department, synchronizing their efforts doesn’t just naturally happen on its own. You have to put a lot of work into ensuring the communication between them is constant and clear.
Depending on the number of channels you are using and their variety, it might take a fair bit of effort to get them to the point where they all work in perfect cohesion, but you can be sure that you will be well-rewarded for every penny and hour of time invested into achieving this.
If you are still on the fence when it comes to the importance of this kind of holistic approach to marketing, we’ll help you recognize its significance by giving you enough illustrations of how different marketing segments can complement each other.
They’re Mutually Supportive
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. One of the benefits of each individual advertising channel is that you can use it to advertise your other advertising channels. Depending on the audiences you are catering to, they will have different consumer habits and will be reachable through different methods.
Let’s say that you are selling a product which really benefits from the amount of information that comes with an online presentation, i.e. something that people want to learn more about, view it from different angles, etc. Now, if your target audience is web savvy, they won’t have a problem finding your site and all the info on the product they could ever need.
However, if a large portion of your audience is not that comfortable online, you can use the channels that you know they are used to, not necessarily only to seal the deal and sell the product outright as you usually would, but perhaps also to guide them to a channel which records better conversion rates.
Naturally, giving this a try would require some adaptations to both channels. While your print, TV or radio ad would have to include the mention of your website, possibly with a specific goal people should complete once they get there; your site might also have to be modified to better cater to this kind of audience, i.e. have a more straightforward navigation and layout.
Examples of this kind of synergy are endless, and by no means limited to just two channels at a time. Let’s say you’re running a local shoe store, which only wants to focus on in-store sales, but doesn’t have anything against attracting customers online.
While the Online2Offline model works even if you don’t have a site, just an optimized Google Maps entry, your best bet would be to make a website while paying due attention to recommendations regarding SEO optimization; sign up for all the appropriate social network channels; create listings on relevant local or niche directories, and generally, do everything else required for a solid online presence. Once that is done, each of your offline campaigns can give boost to, and be boosted by your site and other online assets.
For instance, you want to hold an exhibit. First you announce it several months early on your site and through your social media. During the exhibit, you can collect email addresses from the people you talk to, which expands your newsletter subscription pool, which then makes it easier to later inform people of your upcoming events. By going back and forth between digital and offline channels, you have significantly improved the effectiveness of both.
If the same shoe store holds a more casual event, like a party for employees or the people in their local community, sharing the photos on Facebook will go a long way towards humanizing you, as people respond better when they don’t feel they are being advertised to. Naturally, the photos would be tastefully sprinkled with strategically placed branded banners, ensuring that you still get that brand awareness boost you need.
These examples could go on forever, just the last item, banner printing, has countless nuances and cross-over options; from the basic branding purposes to carrying QR codes, displaying not just your URL, but the exact landing page that people who will see your banner are likely to be interested in or the hashtags you are currently focusing on, etc.
They Facilitate Targeting and Feedback
Aside from enhancing each other directly, different marketing approaches are also capable of doing so indirectly, through giving you a more comprehensive insight into your audiences.
Remember that exhibit you held? While there and talking to people, you could sneak in (or openly ask them to complete) a mini survey regarding your website. Take note of their suggestions, implement the best ones, and rest assured in the knowledge that you now have a site that a typical visitor of your exhibits would like.
Then you use that website not only to promote future exhibits with greater success, since you now have a better idea who it is that you are targeting, but also to try and get feedback on the exhibit you’ve held. This gets you another set of data, one you wouldn’t have been able to get at the event itself. Analyzing that data allows you to organize better events in the future, and round and round it goes.
Even this simplest combination of just two basic promotional channels results in you learning a lot about one by relying on the platform set up by the other. Now imagine what breadth of info you would have access to if you did this on a more regular basis.
Aside from providing direct feedback, combining digital and offline allows you to mix methodologies when it comes to testing. For example, if you are not sure which of the two billboard designs you are considering would be more appealing to your customers, you can always run them through your PPC A/B testing setup, and use the one that attracts more attention. Naturally, due to the inherent differences between various advertising channels, the results obtained from this kind of testing won’t always be completely accurate, but they will be informative nonetheless.
They Allow Repurposing
You don’t want to be repeating yourself when advertising your services or products, however, different media not only allow for numerous iterations of the same basic idea, they demand it. For instance, you’ve created a perfect TV ad, which ends up being highly effective. Since airtime prices, especially in the more popular timeslots, rapidly rise with every second of the ad’s duration, you have probably kept the ad at the minimal possible length. However, once you know you have something that people respond to, you can always extend that ad as much as you feel you should and post it online – on your site, YouTube channel, or social network profiles. The same premise can then be reworked into a cartoon strip or an infographic, and so on.
Aside from ensuring that your message across different channels is consistent, this saves your creative team a lot of time, and you a lot of money.
While you may find yourself in a situation where it’s actually easier to create something from scratch than to adapt something you’ve already used elsewhere, this isn’t just about finding ways to do less work, but about ensuring that, once you do come across a great idea that people are responding to, you get the most out of it.
The Bottom Line
Synchronizing your marketing efforts across different channels can be difficult, as all of them require special sets of skills, a degree or type of experience, and different tools and methods. However, bridging the gaps between various ways of advertising your products or services can do wonders for your exposure. You can use sets of different types of marketing approaches to ensure that they are enhancing each other’s effectiveness; to get more comprehensive and useful feedback from your customers; or to ensure that regardless of how they are exposed to your advertising, all of the potential consumers of your products get the same message.
It’s important to keep this in mind when allocating funds to different marketing segments. Since, despite their differences, they still have a lot in common, adding a new advertising channel to an existing marketing setup will never be as expensive as it would be if you were just starting from scratch with it. In other words, a lot of the infrastructure you need to advertise your business through one channel will already be available to you because of your previous marketing efforts.
That’s why multi-channel marketing can be more effective, informative, scalable, and even cheaper than focusing on just one approach, as long as it is synchronized properly.
I'm SEO specialist and certified Adwords consultant. I have been working in Search Engine Marketing for over three year. In addition working in SEO, I love writing about the subject and contributing to forum discussion in forums about various aspects of Search Engine Optimisation from link building to content development. Read more about me here