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These days, very few consumers are focusing on one media format at a time. They have the radio on at work, they watch TV whilst browsing Wikipedia on their tablet or they shop online with their phone nearby, ready for a text or to browse the internet on another device.
Because people are consuming and using information through a mix of online and offline media, businesses must create online and offline marketing strategies that work together to promote the business. Though having a mix of online and offline marketing is a no-brainer for companies which have both on and offline revenue streams, it is crucial also for companies which primarily rely on online conversions.
Importance of offline marketing to online companies
Online marketing has its benefits and appeal, but the simple fact is that, although customers may prefer to find and interact with a business online, they are part of the offline world, listening to radios, watching televisions and perusing direct mailers before deciding what to do with them. Offline marketing simply provides several more avenues through which online businesses can reach their target audience. It can also uncover niches or even just individuals outside the target niches that a narrow online focus can miss.
If it is important for your business’s marketing messages to be where your target market can find them, it is important for you to use offline marketing. After all, those online conversions are made by people living in the real world.
Kinds of offline marketing and how they can drive online conversions
There are three basic forms of offline marketing, and they can all be used to drive online conversions.
Face-to-face marketing is essentially just about talking to people in the real world about your business. Most face-to-face marketing happens at networking events, trade shows or when out and about in the community. This technique allows potential clients and valuable contacts to personally connect with your business’s brand representative, whoever that person is. This personal connection means they are more likely to buy your products or help your business grow any way they can.
The best way to drive them to your website is by using business cards, vouchers or branded freebies. Use whatever you think will best remind them to use your site when they need what your business provides, and make sure the item directs them to the part of the site they likely want to find.
Print marketing includes everything from direct mailers to ads at bus stops. Many people see these methods as “casting a wide net to catch a lot of fish”, and this approach has largely fallen out of favour as consumers come to expect individualised marketing materials and targeted ads. In response, agencies that specialise in print marketing have begun to create more targeted campaigns, and these campaigns are getting results.
Your print materials must include clear calls to action directing the newer, bigger audience to your website, and it must also include a web address that is easy to remember. Try to direct the target audience of each print campaign to the relevant section of the site, so they will be more likely to convert once they are on your site.
Other media marketing
Television and radio still command huge audiences, though few people sit down, turn off their laptops and mobiles, and just concentrate on the television or radio. This is an opportunity for offline marketers. People use all these devices in conjunction with one another, looking up information on the programme they’re watching whilst it is on or being reminded to check out a store’s sales online when the radio ad comes on.
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Though these marketing techniques can be expensive, costs can be mitigated. You can hire university students or recent graduates to produce an ad for less than an ad agency would charge. Have your ad aired at off-peak times, when rates are lower. You can also try to buy single slots, rather than whole ad packages, to test out the effectiveness of your ads before investing significant amounts of money.
Just as with the paper and print ads, you need to remember the calls to action pushing consumers toward your website. It’s even more important to make the name of your company stick, so think about how you can incorporate your website name into the ad.
How to track offline marketing’s effectiveness
When online businesses think of marketing, they think of measuring effectiveness. Luckily, there are several ways to tract the effectiveness of your offline marketing, so you can refine and improve your marketing strategy.
Try custom landing pages or customised redirect domains. You can then set up funnels in your analytics package to track how many people are coming to those pages or sites. You will need to consider duplicate content penalties from Google and other search engines, but these can be avoided. Put ‘noindex’ meta tags on the custom landing pages to keep robots from indexing your page, and make sure customised domains have truly unique content on them.
You can also use shortened URLs that use UTM parameters to track the traffic source. This means taking a URL like “http://www.yourdomain.com/?utm_source=TitleOfMagazine&utm_medium=magazine&utm_campaign=spring2013” and shorten it to something like bit.ly/A45u3. You can even get personalised shortened URLs that are more memorable than the Bitly URL. In this case, it would be something like doma.in/campaign. If, for example, you run a home improvement website, you can include a shortened URL in your ads that sends readers of a gardening magazine straight to the gardening section of your website. You can then track that as a specific campaign in your analytics package, monitoring its success as compared to other campaigns.
If you are an online retailer, you can include discount codes. Ads already promote these quite heavily, and their usefulness in both driving conversions and in tracking makes them appealing. Simply add the phrase “Enter promo code Garden15 for a 15% discount” to your ad, then set up your analytics to track which users have used that code.
Whatever method you decide to use, remember to keep track of which URL or site has been set up for which offline marketing campaign and when they were launched. After that, all you have to do is see which ones work best for your business.
With that, you should have some really good ideas of how offline marketing can help drive online conversions.