3 Steps to Bridge the Gap Between Online and Offline Channels
Imagine you’re browsing online for a pair of hiking shoes for your upcoming trip to the Yosemite. You make a mental note of a few pairs and decide to visit the store nearby to try them on. As you approach the store, you receive a push notification on your phone that one of the pairs of shoes you were looking at is now 20% off. Score!! You make a beeline for those shoes, try them on, and buy them. The next day, you get an email promoting the perfect pair of wool hiking socks to go along with the shoes.
This may seem like a rather seamless experience, but what you may not realize is that there’s quite a lot going on in the back-end that connects these different channels to deliver that experience. In the example above, website, mobile, in-store, and email were all used—listening and responding to your different actions.
Connecting online and offline experiences is not a new endeavor; many marketers understand the need for it. However, what many don’t recognize is its potential to make a significant impact on bottom line goals—like revenue. To influence the entire customer journey, it’s important to look at entire customer experience across channels, not in silos. Online marketing affects offline behavior and vice versa. In fact, according to Econsultancy, 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel. With this understanding, marketers can pull the necessary levers in their toolkit to optimize and achieve their desired results.
Here are three steps to bridge the gap between online and offline marketing:
1. Identify All of Your Marketing Channels and Determine the Best Combinations
List all of your online and offline channels and who owns each channel (in larger organizations, each channel may be owned by a separate team whereas in smaller organizations, they may be shared by one or more teams). If you have a mobile app, don’t forget to include it in your list; mobile marketing is an effective medium to bridge the online and offline worlds as mobile devices have become an integral part of our everyday lives.
Then, identify complementary channels where you can have continuous conversations with your buyers. Some examples are email and direct mail, mobile app and on-premise advertising, and SMS and your website. Whichever combinations you choose, secure alignment and buy-in from the channel owners from goal setting to execution to measurement and optimization. The more you can do with your existing resources and tech infrastructure, the easier it is to move forward. A marketing automation system of record, like Marketo, can enable a 360 degree view of customers and their online as well as offline interactions, so you can truly trigger communications on one channel based on behaviors on other channels.
2. Set Goals and Success Metrics
Like all campaigns, before you begin running your cross-channel campaigns, start by setting your goals. Work backwards from your revenue goal and determine your objectives for each channel. While online and offline metrics may differ, the end goal is the same: drive more sales and revenue. Here are some examples of some online and offline metrics that you may want to track to help you measure your success:
- Website: Page views, average session duration, most visited pages, bounce rate, conversions, behavior flow, keyword rankings, etc.
- Mobile: Users, session length, time in-app, actions, retention, etc.
- Email: Click-through-rate, conversions, unsubscribes, etc.
- Digital advertising: Impressions, reach, clicks, click-through-rate, engagement rate, conversions, etc.
- Offline metrics: Store visits or tradeshow booth visits, phone inquiries, offer usage, store purchases, etc.
Set goals for the lift you expect to see when you integrate your online and offline channels. This largely depends on the channels you integrate and what influence each has on the customer journey. A conservative goal would be around 3-5%, while an aggressive goal can be 20% or more. On the other hand, if you already have goals set for each channel, determine what percentage of those can be driven from other channels instead of from increased ROI on the original channel.
3. Get Creative with Integrating Your Channels
With your goals and framework on hand, start brainstorming campaign ideas that provide a seamless experience for the buyer. Here are some examples that integrate online and offline channels:
- Email and direct mail: Increase customer engagement with direct mail that is sent out based on triggered campaigns. For instance, if a customer opens or clicks on an email, you could send a direct mail customized to that action.
- In-store promotions: Offer repeat customers coupons that they can download online for in-store usage. With a unique code, you will be able attribute coupon-driven offline purchases to your online marketing efforts.
- Geo-specific promotions: Mobile devices allow marketers to reach buyers wherever they are. Add SMS opt-ins to your online forms so you can send important information to customers on their mobile devices.
- Mobile app messages: Send triggered push notifications or in-app messages based on a buyer’s email actions or non-actions, and vice versa.
- Events: Use beacons to track and measure interactions with attendees and follow up with relevant and personalized content.
- Promoting online channels on offline: Aside from QR codes, there are plenty of ways to drive offline traffic to online channels. Include social handles, vanity URLs, and coupon codes on your offline presence to give your online channels a boost.
An integrated online-offline marketing strategy can go a long way in making a significant impact on your organization’s overall goals. With the Internet of Things becoming mainstream, you’ll have many more channels at your disposal to integrate into the customer journey. As you evaluate your current online and offline channels, remember that it’s never too early to start exploring newer channels, such as smartwatches, thermostats, and other connected devices.
What tips and tricks do you have for running successful cross-channel campaigns? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!