Multi-Channel Series Part 2: Offline and Online in Perfect Harmony

This post marks the second of a 6 part series on sharing insights across marketing channels focusing on the benefit of combining paid digital media with other channels in your marketing plan. Check out Part 1: Social

Any business worth their salt knows that you can’t put all of your marketing and advertising eggs into a single basket. Putting all of your budget into TV? Missed opportunities. Putting all of your budget into radio? Missed opportunities. Putting all of your budget into PPC? Missed… oh you get the idea. Holistic marketing strategies, like holistic anything, are the safest bet for ensuring you get in front of your potential customers online and in the big-bad world that exists beyond the internet.

Offline advertising takes on many forms, of course. The obvious players being television, radio, billboards and print advertising. But maybe your audience is better served by marketing through sponsorships, speaking opportunities or strategic partnerships. Whatever the format, the question is: How are you connecting the dots between your offline activities to your web presence and online advertising?

Leverage Online Data for Offline Decisions

As denizens of the internet age, we have access to unprecedented levels of data. Data, data, data. All day long. We have feedback systems built into our websites and digital advertising channels that tell us important things about our website traffic. Age. Gender. Location. Conversion activity. We even have deep data archived on our customers. You know, those people that pay us money (and whom we can build a persona around to find others that will do the same)!

Merely having the data isn’t enough. What are we going to do with it? Well, one place to start is to apply this data to your offline marketing decisions. Use your online audience data as leverage when negotiating TV, radio and print deals. Understand the industries and types of companies your customers work for to go out and find sponsorship, partnership and speaking opps. Perhaps one of the most obvious, but most powerful pieces here is geographic data. Most offline advertising is expensive and approaching it with a “spray and pray” mentality in terms of geographic targeting is dangerous. Use your online performance data to make educated geographic buying decisions.

All for One and One for All: Synchronize Your Messaging

The big brands that nearly everyone knows (your McDonalds, Apple, Starbucks, Ford, etc.) make or break their marketing efforts on this idea of message synchronization. Every year during the Super Bowl, all of us advertising nerds get a chance to see how well these big brands succeed at creating a cohesive flow from offline (multi-million dollar TV ad spot) to online (search, display and social efforts). When synchronization does not occur, it is painfully obvious and concerning. If you broadcast a message to millions via TV, radio or even a billboard on a busy highway, you WILL receive a bump in web traffic. That is how the world works today. If the message, branding and call-to-action does not flow from offline-to-online, you will lose customers and money.

At the end of the day, the idea here is simple. I won’t over-simplify and say that the execution is simple, I know that it is not. But the idea is easy. If you have a screaming goat, sheep and/or donkey in your TV commercial telling me to buy my next smart phone from you:

  • Make sure the screaming goat, sheep and/or donkey ad has a theme and a call-to-action.
  • Make sure your PPC, display and social ads carry the same theme, call-to-action and screaming goat, sheep and/or donkey imagery online.
  • Make sure that your website, specifically your landing pages, also match the theme, call-to-action and screaming goat, sheep and/or donkey.

Online Advertising as Geographic Back-fill

The reverse side of the geographic targeting coin is how can offline activity influence online? As previously mentioned, offline advertising can be expensive. Sometimes prohibitively so. When the budget does not justify going after one of these markets, your digital advertising channels become that much more valuable. Use your PPC, display and social advertising campaigns as an opportunity to back-fill in these expensive geographic markets.

Reuse and Recycle Y’all

Spending big bucks on television spots? The big bucks aren’t just for the ad inventory itself, but also production, right? Well, that content can and should be used online, too. YouTube (organically and in video campaigns), Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads and more. Digital advertising and video content go together like peas and carrots. Beyond video, even other offline content can be put to good use online. Do you find success in radio? Apply the same audio messaging to internet radio, Pandora, Spotify, etc.

Mission Impossible: Track Everything

Tracking the performance of online marketing and advertising is what makes it special and very powerful. We get a lot of data (yeah, yeah – I’m repeating myself). Offline activities are not so easy. The good news here is that there are ways of piecing things together by applying tracking ideas that originate in the online world. Bridging the gap, if you will.

  • Brand search lift. On a very basic level, you can analyze brand search traffic to understand how offline marketing efforts impacted your brand online. This is definitely not a 1-to-1 method of tracking, but it can provide useful insight.
  • Unique domains and landing pages. When you throw a link to your website into an offline ad, make sure you know how to track that traffic. If you put your primary domain and nothing else… all you’re going to see is a *potential* lift in direct visits. Instead consider using isolated domains per marketing channel or create easy-to-remember landing pages. This way when a person sees your ad and goes directly to your website (therefore bypassing measurable search engine activity) you can actually attribute the visit to a specific campaign.
  • Call tracking. Use a service like DialogTech and set up tracking numbers for your various offline advertising opportunities. Sync that data with your CRM to level up to “grand-master marketer” status.
  • Promotions. Ok, so this didn’t originate in the internet age… but it is still powerful. Run a specific promotion (32.5% off this week only!) that is tied to a specific activity – TV, radio, trade show sponsorship, etc..
  • Bonus thought – I only used Mission Impossible as the header here because I’m stoked for the new Mission Impossible movie. Seems to be about the only decent thing Tom Cruise does these days other than Live. Die. Repeat. (aka Edge of Tomorrow – which was a GREAT movie). Yes, I’m a dork. Sue me.

There you have it folks. A quick list of ideas to help you tie your online and offline marketing efforts together. This is by no means the end-all-be-all list, but should be food for thought. The biggest takeaway is that both forms of marketing and advertising are necessary to reach your potential customers. And to truly succeed, online and offline activities should work together!

What methods or strategies have you employed to capitalize on online and offline marketing activities? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to check back over the next few weeks to read the latest posts in our Multi-Channel blog series!