For years there has been an ongoing debate about whether online (think pay-per-click, online display advertising, and social media advertising) or offline (think broadcast and newspaper ads, collateral, direct mail, coupon programs, etc.) is the more effective marketing strategy. The good news is that you don’t have to make a choice. In fact, depending on your objectives and your target audience, your strategy could include the use of both online and offline marketing tactics. In short, a strong marketing plan is an integrated marketing plan.
Instead of thinking of these channels as competitors for your marketing dollars, consider online and offline resources as powerful tools that, when used together, can boost your brand, your leads, and your bottom line.
Most brands are already using online channels such as social media platforms to promote offline happenings such as print campaigns and events – and vice versa – but here are 8 more ways to combine offline and online tactics for effective marketing:
1. Use online calls-to-action (CTA) on your offline promotion pieces.
On your printed collateral and print ads, create reasons for your audience to visit a dedicated landing page (versus your homepage) to capture contact information for subsequent follow-up. Entering a contest or offering free value added content such as an e-book or white paper are good tools to gain that all important e-mail address.
2. Start a “to be continued” campaign.
Why not begin a story offline and then continue it online? By doing so, you can send the viewer to a landing page or your social media platforms where they will find additional content (and a specific CTA). For example, write a print article and include a call-to-action along the lines of “to comment on this, use #articletitleon social media,” or “find out more at www.yoursite.com/landingpage.”
3. Use online engagement results to drive offline campaigns.
Use your most popular image on social media – something you know your target audience obviously likes and use it as the main image for your next print campaign. This will create a cohesive brand experience and really connect the dots for your audience between their online and offline interactions with your brand.
4. Give your loyal social media fans a chance to weigh in on your next offline creation.
If you’re not sure which artwork or graphic to use in your next print campaign, contest, or event, post the options to social media and ask your followers. This is a great way to engage with your audience and make them feel a part of your brand. Meanwhile, you can be secure in the knowledge that you’re using the best possible artwork to get your audience’s attention in print at a later time.
5. Encourage selfies and get that all-important user-generated content and brand endorsement.
Consider engaging your audience on social media through a direct mail campaign; invite your audience to take “selfies” and share on social media using specific hashtags in order to track the campaign. Indiana University did this successfully when they used a hashtag to promote admission. They included #IUsaidYes on acceptance letter envelopes, which led students considering the university to actively post selfies with their letters using the hashtag. The campaign went viral. Try this on posters, event graphics, and other print media to do the same.
6. Create pURLs for mailers.
This is something being used creatively by the higher education marketing community. Here’s how it works. Use your mailing list to create a Personal URL or pURL, which is a URL created for an individual in order to track that person’s activity. Next, use a variable printing service to create a direct mailer specific to each person on your mailing list. The result? You’ll be able to track engagement, capture information, and identify your hottest prospects.
7. Use trackable phone numbers, URLs, and UTMs.
URLs and/or phone numbers can be set up and associated with a particular print piece. These are different than pURLS because the URL is not specific to a single person, rather to a specific ad. By tracking the number of times the telephone number is called or the URL is visited, you can track the success of the campaign. Remember, always use CTAs and lead capture forms when using URLs and landing pages.
In the same way you can use UTM code. A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. UTM codes enable Google Analytics to chart where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you.
8. Place digital contact info on business cards.
Make sure your business cards have digital contact information, such as email addresses, Twitter handles, etc. on them. Doing so will help expand the relationship from offline to online and increase marketing opportunities.
The bottom line
There are a variety of ways that online and offline tactics can work together to boost overall advertising effectiveness. Instead of treating these approaches as an “either/or,” today it’s really more of a “both/and.” The time for putting all your eggs in one basket has passed. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside Maine.
At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.
With Ethos, you get more than a Maine advertising agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.