How to Integrate Online and Offline Marketing Strategiesstudy done by Smart Insights last year found that only six percent of companies thought their online and offline marketing strategies were effectively integrated.

Six percent.

That’s a huge amount of opportunity left on the table in a world where 75 percent of people say their number one use of the internet is to find information about goods and services and 64 percent of consumers report watching a video on social media has influenced them to make a purchase decision.

The problem is a majority of communicators are looking at their online and offline marketing strategies as two separate things.

They are not.

Facebook and Instagram are two separate platforms, but we consider how they influence and work together. Likewise, offline communication is just another platform to distribute our message, generate leads, and nurture and convert them to customers.

This includes offline sales efforts.

It all works together. We will never successfully integrate online and offline marketing strategies until we start to see them as one.

Start With Your Buyer’s Journey

So how do you rethink how you see your online and offline marketing strategies working together?

Start with your buyer’s journey.

Look at each point where your prospect might initially come in contact with your brand, online and off.

Map that journey it two ways:

Start with your goal journeys.

  • What’s the ideal route for your buyer to get to a purchase decision?
  • What are their first touchpoints and where do those lead them?
  • Think through how they are influenced online and off?
  • Through every media type?
  • If you have an offline location where they ultimately make the purchase, what media types have they already been influenced by prior to even coming into your store (or coming back to make their final decision)?

Then look at your actual journeys. Be honest with yourself here.

Where are their holes in your buyer’s path?

  • Are the communications they receive disjointed?
  • Do they get pushed down the funnel too quickly?
  • Or do they receive bottom of the funnel content prior to content that even helps them identify their needs?
  • When they finally get to a decision-making junction have they been provided a consistent experience online and off?
  • If they meet you offline and you sell online, do you have an effective way to help them make that transition?
  • If they meet you online and you sell offline, have you thought through how to motivate them off their computers and into your location?

Think Through Decision-Making Junctions

Now that you’ve looked at both your ideal and actual buyer’s journeys, you want to carefully examine your decision-making junctions.

Let’s say you sell a chopstick protection device. It helps people eat with chopsticks without fear of harming themselves or others.

Do you want your customer to walk into your store cold, without ever hearing about your product? Or do you want them to walk in after:

  • Seeing a video testimonial from a former victim of accidental chopstick violence on Facebook (who now can eat chopsticks without fear).
  • Downloading a step-by-step tutorial on how to use proper chopstick form (from a Facebook ad targeted to people who have checked in at a Sushi restaurant two or more times in the last six months).
  • Seeing one of the foodie influencers they follow talk about the product on their blog.

When they walk into your store after having one or more content encounters in their journey, your salesperson can simply close the sale (perhaps with a limited time coupon or package “chopstick of the day” deal) vs. start at the beginning of the funnel with education and problem identification.

What Makes Them Decide to Buy?

In the opposite direction, let’s say your prospect does walk into your store cold, just out of curiosity. What happens when they leave?

Do they just walk out with information?

or, do they

  • Search online to see testimonials and fun tutorials on your blog or across your social channels.
  • Check out the hashtag #safechopsticking to find a variety of food influencers and even some of their friends taking selfies with their chopstick protection devices.
  • Text “CHOPSTICK” to a number you gave them while in the store in order to download a directory of the top-rated Japanese restaurants in your local area, along with coupons to each. And then the subsequent “Chopsticking Like A Pro” autoresponder course that nurtures them through your funnel.

These are the ways online and offline marketing strategies work together to bring your prospect to a decision-making junction warm and ready to purchase.

Look at Transition Points

Often the biggest missing piece businesses face is creating an integrated online and offline marketing strategy is to provide their community opportunities and motivation to connect with them on the other side of the computer.

To find ways to do this for your organization, first think about the why.

Why would someone that already connects with you one way be motivated to do so another way as well?

What do you provide online that you don’t provide offline?

  • Better customer service?
  • Quicker response time?
  • More detailed educational materials?

What do you provide offline you don’t provide on?

  • In person contact?
  • More individualized product demos?
  • A better user need analysis?

Once you’ve developed your differentiation points, start strategically placing calls-to-action in your content and social updates that help one community understand the benefit of being part of the other.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate set-up. It can be very simple, straightforward, and clean. It just needs to provide value.

Online and Offline Marketing Strategies That Work

We had a client who attends a lot of trade shows.

This is a major source of leads for them and a place where they can connect in person with prospective buyers.

Other than adding them to their email list, however, they were having trouble bringing these connections into their online community.(Which consists of a well-written and targeted blog, other useful content such as white papers, engaging social networks, and an informative email newsletter).

We thought through ways they could do just that.

What motivation could they provide these offline connections to take the next step and join them online?  And then allow them to further nurture and engage with them during the sales cycle.

Integration in Action

Some of the ideas we put in place:

  • Contests based on checking in on Facebook, trade show tweets mentioning them, hashtags, or other engaging and often educationally focused set-ups.
  • Specific follow-up emails that provided additional potentially useful links based on the trade show focus and prospect demographics.
  • Text to lead systems. Where they gave the audience a code to text during a presentation to instantly download an important lead magnet.  And then also be added to their email list for specific post-show email drip campaign.
  • Request their top questions during the event and answer them on their blog.
  • Special, limited-time access downloads to white papers targeted to their interests.

Likewise, this client had a great online community and active blog readership, but these connections often sat ignorant of their trade show activities. The chance to be part of this real-life experience, work with the sales team and seeing the product in action could be just what many in their online community wanted (and needed to convert to buyers).

So we decided to test out a weekly blog post during trade show season which discussed best tips, tricks, and advice from the trade show floor (within the context of the shows they were attending).

It provided a list of their upcoming shows and ways to connect with them in person.

Online and Offline Marketing Strategies Work Together

Integrate or die needs to be the motto for your entire team.

All media types, channels, levels, and sections of the business.

This means changing the way you look at what you do and how you engage with your customers everywhere.

How do you integrate your online and offline operations?

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino