Online and Offline Marketing: Developing an Integrated Strategy

Posted May 9, 2016 | By Tricia Hussung

Header image containing title text and miscellaneous marketing tools such as a clipboard, notebook, computers and smartphones.

Over the past decade, businesses have either integrated or replaced their traditional marketing with digital marketing. For some, however, the question remains: Should offline marketing be abandoned, or does it still hold value in the age of the Internet? The divide between offline and online marketing has even led to companies hiring wholly separate teams to handle print, Web and social media projects. This leads to campaigns that are disconnected and may even directly compete with one another.

Businesses must keep in mind that, in the mind of the customer, brand consistency is key. Consumers don’t differentiate between marketing channels, so why should businesses? It is common for companies to neglect the connections between offline and online marketing, but an integrated approach is required to achieve a cohesive, successful brand. Organizations have the chance to capitalize on the wide variety of marketing channels available today, both on the Web and in more traditional formats.

Traditional Marketing 101

It’s true that the Internet has become one of the most beneficial tools for marketing teams and entrepreneurs to promote their business. They can create interactive websites, develop a social media presence, organize paid search efforts and more. However, offline marketing remains a viable business promotion method. And as more organizations focus their efforts on the Web, savvy marketers stand to benefit from reduced competition. The most common traditional marketing methods that remain effective for businesses include advertising on radio and television. Companies can buy airtime and put together commercials about their business. Another tactic is to advertise in newspapers or magazines. Much like television and radio marketing, print is an ideal way to ensure that customers interact with brands. Companies can purchase space in a publication or even contribute sponsored content. Print media like fliers, posters and billboards also get the attention of consumers while they go about their day. When these types of collateral contain a contact number or website, they drive the viewer to take the next step and learn more about a company’s product or service.

Integrating Offline and Online Marketing

Savvy businesses are beginning to understand the value of traditional media in a modern marketing strategy. They are working to create a consistent brand experience for consumers among Web, mobile, social and offline campaigns. Marketing professionals who emphasize the connections among channels “can drive an intensified impact across the entire marketing ecosystem and provide insight into how each channel, campaign and strategy influences one another,” Marketing Land notes. “Marketers can capitalize on that feeling of a seamless brand presence to drive a stronger interaction between online and offline channels. What’s needed is a marketing system that integrates offline display promotions and print advertising with digital marketing such as paid ads, banners and social media posts.” But how can marketers achieve an integrated strategy?

It starts with leveraging existing initiatives to increase reach and conversion. Companies must drive their offline audience to online channels while driving Web clients to offline outlets as well. For example, a television advertisement can include a Twitter hashtag that drives users to social media, and specific calls to action can direct viewers to a website. There is a lot of evidence to support that a cross-channel strategy is most effective. A study by Vision Critical found that social media platforms lead to both offline purchases and online sales.

The most important element to keep in mind when developing integrated marketing plans is relevance. Modern consumers expect a customized experience, which can be especially impactful on a regional level. Using custom creative assets rather than stock photos grabbed online is one example of this. When companies are able to combine offline and online marketing strategies successfully, a stronger brand presence is the result. “Through relevant, personalized campaigns that permeate the customer’s online and offline worlds, you can synergize your marketing ecosystem — and fuse all of your programs into one magnetic brand experience,” Marketing Land explains. For most businesses, this combination of multiple marketing channels is what makes the difference, increasing their reach potential.

Marketers must integrate Internet marketing tactics with traditional methods to reach more of their target audience. By integrating Internet marketing and television, business owners can reach a wider audience. A comScore report states that nearly half of households with three or more people subscribe to Netflix, while Americans ages 18 to 34 are 77 percent more likely than average to live in households that have never had pay TV. This means that marketers must use tactics that target both traditional television viewers and those who watch online. Developing a commercial for television while also running banner or video ads online is a good way to do this.

Another way to successfully integrate is through combining Internet marketing and radio. Radio is still a useful tool for businesses, according to a study by Nielsen. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. music listeners listen to traditional or online radio. Even in today’s innovation-driven society, there are advantages to advertising on the radio. In fact, Inc. references a Nielsen report that states radio ads drive 5.8 percent of U.S. retail sales. This means that each dollar of radio ad spend generates an average sales return of $6. And even among the millennial generation, radio is popular. Inc. reports that 70 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 listen to network radio each week. One way to benefit from both traditional and online radio is to run ads on the airwaves while developing a correlating banner ad for online radio apps.

Finally, marketers can combine Internet marketing and print media. It may be surprising to learn that 54 percent of consumers are “more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from a newspaper or magazine ad,” Inc. reports. And large, national businesses are taking note: Around 43 percent of national businesses use newspapers for local promotions. Integrating online and print marketing is one of the easiest ways to update marketing strategy. Including websites and email addresses in print ads or featuring coupons that are only valid when used for online purchases are two examples of this.

The Future of Offline Marketing

Thirty-eight percent of marketers plan to shift spend from traditional mass advertising to advertising on digital channels, according to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report. Yet an integrated approach best represents where the marketing industry is heading. As the marketing landscape continues to change, experts predict the following trends.

  • Mobile is rapidly becoming a central element in most marketing strategies. Brands are working to create a personalized relationship with customers through the constant connectivity that mobile technology provides.
  • Original content is more important for brands than ever before. For visual and video media in particular, marketers are disrupting conventional marketing models using content tailored to a specific audience.
  • User-generated content will experience rapid growth, from online reviews to blog posts. Content co-creation between brands and consumers is another popular future trend.
  • Social media is becoming an important part of new marketing strategies, with brands transitioning an impressive portion of their tactics to social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

There is no longer one marketing channel that will reach an entire target audience — not even online. Combining offline and online marketing tactics is the best way for businesses to benefit from maximum reach and effectiveness for their brand.

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