August 4, 2015

Integrating Your Online and Offline Marketing

Tips on how to achieve unity across all channels of your campaigns.

Just like any great band that has broken up and then reunited will tell you – the product of a project should be greater than the sum of its parts.  The same applies to marketing campaigns.  With so many businesses using multiple channels in order to accomplish their overall marketing efforts, it is tempting to play to the strengths of each individual medium.  But allowing different channels to operate autonomously will often hurt a campaign more than help it.

Why is Integration so Important?

In the modern age, in which companies use both online marketing as well as offline, the integration of marketing strategies is more important than ever.  When people connect with a brand, they want a recognisable ‘face’ with which to interact.  The lack thereof could leave them confused and uncomfortable.   A situation in which the look of a company’s social media pages differs from its print advertisements, which differ from its television spots, might cause a disconnect between that company and its prospective clients.

offline and online

For this reason it is important for each channel of a marketing campaign – whether online or offline – to work in harmony with all of the other channels of that campaign, and all create a unified effort that presents that particular brand as a unique and coherent entity.

This is still a big ask for some companies, but it needn’t be.  With the right amount of planning and a good strategy, a marketing campaign that covers both online and offline media can be as cohesive as it is effective.  Here’s how:

Laying a Solid Foundation

When planning a marketing campaign it is important to approach the project with clear objectives in mind.  One of these objectives should certainly be integration.  So, before any plans are set in motion, ask yourself the following questions:

•    Do the different channels of the campaign have one, common purpose?
•    Are there any aspects of the campaign that oppose those on different channels?
•    Do the different channels inspire consumers to cross between channels?
•    Is the overall effect of the campaign greater than its individual media?

You should be able to answer ‘yes’ to all but the second of these questions.  This is the best way to be sure that the planning stage of your marketing campaign has been effective.

Social Nurturing

Back in the early days of social media marketing, social posts were nice to have but didn’t necessarily play an integral role in campaigns.  Thus the relation of the content on social platforms to the overall marketing campaign was not a priority.  Fortunately, those days are long gone.  Social media has become a central hub, of sorts, which provides cohesion and clarity for an entire marketing campaign.

One of the reasons that social has become so important is that it affords a great deal of freedom.  While television and radio spots are limited by time, and print advertisements are limited by page size, social media has a great deal more resources which can be used to provide consumers with all of the information which they might require.  Furthermore, social media allows for engagement.

This can be integrated nicely with the offline features of a given marketing campaign.  Print, radio, and TV advertisements should encourage consumers to visit the brand’s social media in order to receive additional content.  Here consumers can learn more about the campaign as well as interact with some of its features.  The ability of social media to provide additional content is precisely why it should be used to nurture a marketing campaign in its early stages.

Bringing Social into the Real World

The goal of integration should not be to bring offline marketing online, but rather to blend these worlds equally.  This is why it is just as important to take the online aspects of the campaign out into the offline sphere.

A great way to do this is through the use of hashtags.  Hashtags are extremely effective across numerous social media platforms, simply because they have the ability to draw people in.  It is possible to generate huge online interest by creating a popular and interesting hashtag.  However, there is nothing confining hashtags to the digital world. Check this for more useful tips on using hashtags.real world

By using hashtags in print advertisements and billboards, a marketing campaign can successfully integrate its online efforts with its offline efforts.  The trick is to create a hashtag that will apply to people’s real-world situations.

An example of this would be if a running shoe company was to include #lightningfeet in its offline advertising.  Both professional and amateur athletes might be encouraged to include this hashtag in their social posts following a good performance, thus integrating marketing efforts and creating positive brand association simultaneously.

Matching Social Targeting to Offline Channels

One of the benefits of the connected generation is that many consumers use their phones while performing other tasks, such as watching TV.  This means that a successful TV advertisement will have people talking on social media shortly after it airs.  This is an excellent way to use offline marketing as an online marketing tool.

By targeting the consumers who are reacting to a TV commercial on social media, a company can capitalise on their enthusiasm and increase their exposure to the brand.  Furthermore, by targeting consumers whose interest has already been obtained, the company can increase its chances of turning them into social followers, and eventually paying customers.

Merging Live Events with Social Media

A fantastic way in which to integrate offline and online marketing is through the creation of an online counterpart such as Social Media to a live event.  Supplement the sponsorship of a convention or event with a social media presence which provides additional information and forums.

Hashtags are particularly useful for live events, so it would be extremely beneficial to create a hashtag which could be used for competitions, live posts, and post-event discussions.  This is also a great way to gather consumer information for future marketing campaigns.

Brand building is about creating a cohesive voice that acts as that brand’s identity.  Consumers need to recognise this voice in all aspects of that brand’s marketing efforts, whether online or offline.  This is why integration between all marketing channels is so important.  Without proper integration, consumers may not feel able to completely engage with a brand, or even trust it.  However, through the use of the above ideas, brands stand a better chance of creating unity in all of their marketing channels.

Conclusion

If you’re deploying online and offline marketing campaigns, make sure you track them completely so you can begin to understand and take action on your marketing performance based on the channels giving you the highest ROI.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

About Shirish Agarwal

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.