It may seem as though digital marketing is the only option, but offline marketing still has an important role when it comes to obtaining and retaining customers. Although likes, clicks, conversions and real-time metrics are vital in today’s marketing economy, traditional channels — such as outdoor signage — can attract audiences in ways that online outlets cannot. Of course, you don’t have to choose between online and offline marketing; a great strategy will marry the best of both methods.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of online and offline marketing, as well as how you can successfully combine the two to expand your business.
Benefits of Online Marketing
With online and mobile usage at an all-time high, marketers have taken to cyberspace to ensure they are capturing their audience’s attention. Digital marketing enables savvy business owners to track buyer behavior using metrics that can trace the journey through the sales funnel. With this real-time data, it is easy to see which campaigns are engaging consumers and which need to pivot to be more effective.
Digital marketing gives companies the ability to:
- Access large groups across a range of ages, locations and buying behaviors
- Integrate multiple forms of media such as photos, video and audio
- Enjoy fast and relatively cheap advertising
Cons of Online Marketing
Although online marketing is cost-effective and often gains attention quickly, there are a number of drawbacks that can harm a brand’s image if businesses don’t utilize their digital spaces properly. Poor digital marketing can result in:
- Distrust, especially if consumers regard online ads with skepticism
- Irritation, particularly if an advertisement interrupts the online activity the user is trying to perform
- Overcrowding, as there are countless voices shouting into cyberspace
Benefits of Offline Marketing
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of marketing in the digital arena, let’s review some traditional approaches. Offline marketing employs channels that are at least mostly devoid of Internet usage. This can mean digital signage, radio and TV advertising, billboards, brochures, and mailers. Offline marketing offers businesses a way to:
- Build authenticity, since offline marketing is centered around the idea of connecting to people without the interference of electronic communication
- Receive face-to-face feedback and engage personally with their patrons
- Establish relationships that encourage loyalty, especially because offline marketing often speaks to people who are localized within a geographic area
Cons of Offline Marketing
There are also some downfalls to offline marketing. Traditional marketing can:
- Limit a business’s reach
- Have high marketing costs
- Take longer to show results than digital marketing
Why You Should Combine Online and Offline Marketing Efforts
Since traditional and digital marketing techniques have their benefits and disadvantages, it only makes sense to combine the two approaches so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Associate Offline Promotions With an Online Call-to-Action
Let’s say you put a digital sign outside your brick-and-mortar business to attract customers. Now, what will you put on it? Perhaps you could create a unique hashtag and encourage consumers to share stories of your brand online.
Finding creative methods to bring people from the real world into their digital spaces is a great way to combine traditional and online advertising. Plus, promotions can go either way — use online content to entice people into your store or take advantage of offline messaging to persuade people to go online. It’s all about that well-curated call-to-action.
- Include URLs, QR Codes, Hashtags, and Social Media Handles on Offline Material
One very simple thing you can do to connect online and offline tactics is to integrate your virtual persona into print and traditional advertising copy. For example, create distinct landing pages for certain promotions or offers, then include those URLs on your offline marketing materials. This way, people are sent directly to the source of information in which they’re interested — and you have an easy way to track popular products or services and identify areas for growth. You can use URL-shortening applications (such as Bitly) to make it easier for readers to type in.
Additionally, QR codes, hashtags, and social media handles can send your audience directly to the online profiles you want them to visit.
- Keep It Simple and Get Creative
Sometimes, you have to get a little creative with the messaging so that you don’t speak over your customers’ heads and miss the mark. This is true in all forms of advertising. Do what you can to personalize the experience for your audience members by identifying their pain points and nurturing their needs and desires through your content.
- Offer Giveaways and Competitions
Utilize your offline marketing outlets and encourage customers to share their email addresses with you. People are often willing to divulge this information if they are being entered into a special promotion or contest in which they could win something from the brands they follow (or are considering following).
- Invite User-Generated Content
User-generated content is exactly as it sounds — the source of your advertising is the audience that you are trying to convert. Customer feedback is great to share on online platforms, but it can also be translated into the traditional advertising space. You can take testimonials, photos, videos and catchy phrases that people use in your social sphere to create fun and exciting print and commercial ads. Outdoor digital signage is a great place to showcase customer quotes, and LED marquee signs make it easy to switch messages regularly.
- Improve Personalization With Data Insights
Before the days of digital marketing, personalization was a bit difficult. However, with today’s online data, you can bolster offline marketing efforts using what you learn from digital endeavors. Consumers are more likely to buy from companies with which they feel bonded — and that’s where personalization comes into the picture. Marketing content needs to let people know you’re listening and that you understand them.
Offline Marketing Meets Digital Advertising: A Great Combination
In the end, a solid combination of online and offline marketing techniques is the ideal strategy for most businesses, small and large. This integrated approach enables you to spend precious marketing dollars on tactics that engage your audience across the spectrum.
Author bio: Kacie Stoll is a project expeditor at Golden Rule Signs, an LED sign company. Her professional experiences range from marketing and public relations to sales and customer support. Stoll enjoys working with customers and vendors all over the country to execute with speed and accuracy.