We first started writing and talking with clients about online and offline integration in 2015, or so. It was slow going at first, but B2B companies can be trailblazers once they understand the benefits of a new trend or strategy. Today, we’re still advocates for the practice, as we know how effective the mixtures can be. The trick is to begin with your marketing comfort zone and then start the tweaks. If print is your tried-and-true, start there. If podcasts are a safety standby, start there. If outdoor and transit messaging is your sweet spot, start there.
B2B customer journeys are molded by both online and offline media use, now more than ever. Your customers and prospects want access to product and service information when they want it, which means they search online at their convenience. But the parallel messaging they experience offline augments or reinforces what they see and hear online. Because it’s in a different form, it lands differently in their brain.
Without going to deep into the neuroprocessing rabbit hole, let’s just say that both digital and print reading rely on aspects of executive function, including attention, working memory, executive control and metacognition. Researchers are deep in exploration of how on-screen reading of linear and non-linear text makes additional demands on executive function and learning that print reading doesn’t.
Also, consider that the choice of marketing channels today is an embarrassment of riches. You no longer need to integrate only print, TV and local radio to reach an audience. There are so many combination choices to create a unified customer experience and journey.
Consistency in messaging and experience is the only hard line in the sand that you MUST stick to when combining online and offline marketing.
Here are our top techniques to combine offline with online marketing now, starting with the easy stuff:
Use Consistent Branding to Create Cohesive Campaigns
Let’s go back to the most important aspect of bridging your online and offline marketing: consistency. Put a keen eye on using the same logo design, colors, fonts, and styles throughout both your online and offline marketing efforts. Your website should look somewhat like your business cards, while flyers and postcards should have a visual link to your social media headers. Doing this creates a visual flow that makes it easy for a current or future customer to recognize your company, whether that is on the web, on a postcard or in a video.
Add Your Digital Information to Your Print Advertising
Yes, it’s simple, but it’s the easiest way to combine offline and online marketing. Add your digital information to your print advertising. Make sure your web address is on all direct mail pieces and business cards. Include your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or other social media details, too. QR codes are back in a big way, so use a special QR code that takes customers to a special landing page when scanned by a smartphone or tablet. These are all baby-step ways to bridge the gap between digital and print advertising.
Give Clients a Way to Interact Through Social Media
Another way to link your digital and offline advertising is to provide opportunities for customers to interact through social media. Run campaigns that provide a discount if they sign up for your email list or follow you on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. You can even encourage readers of a print article or advertisement to comment on specific posts or topics by using specific hashtags with your company name or a certain topic. By adding these things to your offline marketing, you can help encourage clients to interact with you in a digital format.
Create pURLs for Direct Mail and Trackable URLs Phone Numbers
Personal Uniform Resource Locators (PURLs) were created by Stuart Weibel and Erik Jul at nonprofit global library organization OCLC in 1995. They were initially used to make broken URLs more resilient. Multiple government organizations still use PURLs today. Businesses can use them, too. They’re specific to people, not messages. Start by creating a unique URL that takes an individual to a generic landing page that tracks specific and associated responses and provides data to measure the marketing effort’s effectiveness.
Or, if it’s too much to try to isolate individuals (pURLS are widespread in higher education, as each student that’s recruited is prized), use a URLs or phone number set up and associated with a particular print piece. The URL is not specific to a single person, but to an ad or message. By tracking the number of calls to that designated number, or the URL visits, you can track success of the effort. (Remember to use lead capture forms when using URLs and landing pages.)
Ask for Testimonials You Can Publish Online
You know how powerful testimonials and word-of-mouth advertising is as an offline marketing tool. Bring that to your website and online channels with audio, video or digital text. When you talk with a satisfied customer, ask if you can quote them or add their photo (or a recorded testimony) to your digital advertising. In most cases, they will be on board with your effort and you’ve just found a way to build trust with potential customers by using social proof.
Think Reverse and Encourage Online Customers to Go Offline
While it does sound counterintuitive in such a digitally connected society, think in reverse and encourage your online customers to go offline. Give them a chance to schedule in-person appointments via your website or even text message. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy face-to-face interaction while still reaping the benefits of technology.
Start where you’re comfortable and consider two combinations at first, such as the QR code on your print pieces. Then think of iterations of that combination.
It’s always smart to integrate your online and offline campaigns together for seamless branding. If you’re not already doing it, let us know how we can help with your effort—or show you further the benefits of the marketing combinations.