- Our increasingly digital world makes online marketing a necessity instead of an option for small businesses.
- However, offline marketing still presents tremendous value if you integrate it with online marketing.
- Consider face-to-face networking, trade shows, live demos and warm calling to extend your reach in the buyer's journey.
Over the past decade, marketing has revolutionised the way brands connect with their audiences. Whether your business is big, small or somewhere in between, it provides the opportunity to expand and succeed like never before. But first, you need to understand what both online and offline marketing looks like and how you can use it to your advantage.
Maybe you’re just beginning to dip your feet into the digital world. Or perhaps you are looking to polish your existing approach for bigger and better results. Regardless of the position you’re in, this article will show you how.
Understanding online/digital marketing
You can’t formulate a hard-hitting campaign without truly understanding what digital marketing is and how it works. Put simply, digital marketing is the process of using online tools and tactics to promote and sell goods or services. Think of it as an umbrella term for an endless array of avenues that can take your business to the next level. Email marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing… these are all examples of how the digital world has completely transformed the way we communicate with customers.
At its core, digital marketing is very similar to traditional marketing approaches. It aims to get an advertisement in front of the right people at the right time, increasing the chances that they will become a customer. The key difference is that we now have more access than ever before to our target audience and a better understanding of what they want with digital marketing. When done correctly, this insight puts more power in the hands of businesses as it ensures your advertising hits the mark.
Why online marketing is vital
Think about the world we currently live in. If you’re craving Italian food, you’re likely to google ‘Italian restaurants in my area’ to find something you like. If you’re looking for an outfit for an upcoming event, you might search online stores looking for something appropriate. There is no doubt that we live in a world where technology and our spending habits are completely intertwined. Even when we prefer to go into a store and find a product, many of us will search online first to see who has the best price available.
Therefore, being seen online is a fundamental component of success for businesses in 2019 – no matter what you’re offering. A recent online shopping report by Australia Post predicted that by 2020, 1 in 10 items will be bought online throughout the country. This statistic sends a huge message to business owners; at the end of the day, if you’re not leveraging the power of the online world to convert customers, you are limiting your opportunity for growth.
How online marketing benefits your business
Digital marketing, when done right, can help your brand succeed in a few ways. By utilising the best strategies and platforms to reach your audience, you can:
- Offer potential customers the product they want, and when they want it, through avenues such as search engine marketing and remarketing.
- Turn website visitors and first-time buyers into loyal customers who keep coming back for more.
- Create awareness about your offers, promotions, sales and products to people who are particularly interested in them.
- Facilitate online sharing and word-of-mouth marketing in the real world, which costs you nothing and offers huge potential for your growth.
How to get great results with your digital marketing campaign
Okay, now that we understand what digital marketing is and why it’s so important, let’s talk strategy. The first thing to remember is that the online world is constantly evolving, which means your strategies need to evolve with it. What works wonders for your campaign one week may fall flat the next. This is why it’s crucial that you stay up to date with the latest algorithm changes, content trends and marketing tools. If you don’t change with the landscape, your campaign is certain to fall behind.
It’s also important to understand that digital marketing strategies are not one-size-fits-all. The trick is to formulate a strategy based on your own goals, resources, audience and brand. A well-thought-out plan is key to digital marketing success as it helps you to understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you can improve in the future.
Now, offline marketing still has its place to be relevant and beneficial, but when your online strategy outweighs your offline, maybe it’s time to look at merging them. Different strategies will resonate better with different audiences - so why not get the best out of both worlds?
Integrating online and offline marketing
The best way to integrate online and offline marketing these days is to associate your offline promotions with an online call-to-action (CTA). If you have an exciting promotion coming up on a tv or radio commercial, consider creating a countdown on your social channels to generate excitement. Using online methods to promote offline can be as simple as a free giveaway on socials if you visit instore between a certain time or day.
Getting your online audience to participate in offline marketing is also a proactive way to widen the audience reach. For example, if you run an online promotion getting your audience to create exciting photos or copies to promote your brand with the chance to feature in next months’ print, not only are you getting them excited about being involved with your brand online, but potentially getting them to buy into other pieces of your brand, which they may not be interacting with. Your online data can give you great analytics on how and what your consumers are purchasing, and ultimately, you can use this data to set up your bricks and mortar store to reflect purchasing decisions.
Networking, conferences and tradeshows
Never underestimate the value in face-to-face networking for your brand. Although most businesses have a strong online brand presence, the need to meet, greet and network will allow you to build more of a strong personal connection, whilst giving you the ability to transfer granular level knowledge to those you are communicating to.
Be wise in who you network with, if you focus purely on those that your target audience sits with, you will, ideally, be opening other opportunities to collaborate on different ideas. Using these networks over time will ultimately allow you to attend or even speak at national/international conferences.
Trade shows are also a great way to find opportunities like collaborations with industry leaders. It also gives your brand the opportunity to distribute print materials with exclusive deals linked to your online channels. Put yourself and your brand in front of a credible audience. Not only will this put your brand in a great position as a thought leader, but speaking engagements are also a great way to acquire direct leads. Your audience is generally warmed and willing to hear your perspective about the latest topics and trends within your industry.
Consultations and live demos
Live and personalised, these are the best ways to provide a direct benefit and connection between the seller and the buyer. This is essentially one of the most effective bottoms of the funnel acquisition techniques you can get. The buyer directly experiences your product or service in a tailored one-on-one session, with the potential to convert almost right away, as the prospect may already be at an advanced stage of the buying cycle, after downloading whitepapers, visiting the website, or reading email content. Your live demo or consultation might be the final stage in their buying cycle, adding that last component of trust that the client needed to purchase.
Calling, calling, calling.
Although not as popular these days, calling adds a personal touch, which so many businesses fail to implement due to the digital world we live in. Calls are more personal than emails as they require an instant response and if not executed correctly, can end up with a poor experience. Spend some time crafting calls and figure out exactly what stage the buyer is at before reaching out.
Warm calling will deliver a better result, as the prospect may have already been exposed to your brand through your online channels - social, website or emails, or offline at conferences or expos. Try offering something during the call that is impossible to get elsewhere - this will increase trust and potentially close the deal.
In conclusion, while we live in a digital age, there is no reason to start throwing away offline marketing techniques. Use them to your advantage by integrating them into your online strategy. Allowing consumers to engage and experience your brand through multiple channels will not only help you with short-term goals, but also help you constantly strive for a higher engagement from a multichannel perspective.
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