Whether you own an offline or online business, it is undeniable that the internet has grown to become a sprawling wealth of information for your potential customers. 10 years ago, if you wanted to find information on an up-and-coming product; a drive to the shop stocking the merchandise would have been your best option. Now, you can find it and buy it in seconds on a computer or mobile phone; the latter conveniently found in your pocket at nearly every waking hour. It also works the other way around; consumers could be looking online for information regarding a product to eventually make a local, offline transaction.
Nowadays, if you launch a snazzy TV advertisement or announce special business offers, potential customers may also be looking for this information online within minutes. If they are then not met with the information they desire, they could go somewhere else and find information advertising a competitor. Likewise, a customer could find a special promotion released online, only to be turned away in store by one of your sales representatives who have never heard of it.
Aligning your offline and online marketing efforts are crucial in this day and age, especially if you’re a start-up, when every potential customer is important. This post isn’t about proving that aligning marketing efforts is important; no-one can deny that a divide between your offline and online marketing efforts can only be confusing and detrimental to loyal customers. Its purpose is to give a guide to making sure you optimise the opportunity that other people miss out on.
- Don’t alienate the departments. Years ago you would build a website and then leave it for years, or perhaps send an email to your design company saying a new product has been released. With the current web-savvy world, not only should the web department be aware of the promotions before they are released, but they should also play an integral part in creating and improving the promotion, ensuring that it is adapted for web-use. Once again this applies vice-versa; if the online department want to release a promotion, the shop floor and offline sales department need to know what is going on and how to approach customers who enquire about it. Integrate your teams and ensure everyone down to the person behind the counter is aware of everything.
- Make sure your search engine campaigns align with your offline marketing efforts. If you mention any particular phrase or deal in an advert, make sure you appear in search results when someone searches for them. People could drive past a billboard and only catch the tagline, or part of your brand; you need to make sure that people who are relying on a hazy memory can easily find your online presence.
- The world is bigger than your shop or office. With the internet, word travels extremely quickly and into places you simply cannot control. Things slip and Chinese whispers begin on the forums and in blogs. If unanswered this can end up with thousands of pages of content on other people’s websites; some advertising old promotions, or even writing negative reviews. Your customer service team would be working extra shifts if someone was outside your shop shouting at people not to buy from you. It would be a marketing disaster; so take this practice online and work on reputation management.
- Businesses always seem to push what has proved successful offline into the online arena. However, most don’t use the vast opportunity of switching this around. You have a platform to test marketing campaigns through analytics quickly and cheaply in the online world, so test what works best. This can be done simply through one of the most common and simple advertising methods online – buying banner space on a website. Design a number of creatives and use your analytics to find out which one your users react well to, and integrate it into your next billboard or newspaper advert.
courtesy of David Merry