Online Versus Offline Marketing in 2019: Should you still be using both?
The wonders of the web have lured in many retailers looking to market their stores more effectively. And indeed if you are committed to harnessing digital platforms to advertise your business, you can reap the rewards of your online efforts in a tangible way.
So what role does traditional, offline marketing have to play in the internet age? Is it still relevant, or should you focus your attentions on a single platform to get the best results?
You might assume that when it comes to reaching the widest audience, there is no real contest between online and offline marketing. With billions of people using the web to browse for products, this must surely be the most impactful option.
In reality, it is better to ensure your marketing messages are reaching an audience for which they are most relevant. Targeted search ads and pages optimised to rank well in your local area work well in this respect, but offline marketing can still be a potent tool.
For example, a branded semi truck wrap (see here) can catch the attention of people in the catchment area of your outlet and expand your reputation just as well. Of course in the case of this mobile form of signage, there are factors of effectiveness which need to be taken into account in its design. The same is true of digital campaigns, which need to be trialled, monitored and honed to ensure that their greater reach is being matched by measurable returns.
In a sense, the scalability of online marketing makes it an affordable option for retailers and businesses in all industries, albeit one for which a specific cost may be hard to pin down. You need to factor in essentials like a professionally built and maintained website and a presence on relevant social media channels. The expense can quickly mount if you are not careful, or are unsure of how to calculate the effectiveness of your digital marketing spend in relation to your sales.
Even with this being the case, digital marketing now accounts for the majority of ad spending. Further growth is predicted, with no sign in its rapid rise abating.
Offline marketing is more straightforward and quantifiable when it comes to costs. You can pay for vehicle signage, shop signage, newspaper ads and posters to promote offers and opportunities. In the case of permanent signage, this is a one-off investment that could last decades without losing its power to appeal to prospective customers. Maintaining outdoor and in-store signage is of course an extra cost, so be prepared to take this into account.
Flexibility & feedback
One area in which online marketing tends to take the lead over real world alternative is in terms of its flexibility and responsiveness. For short term offers and time limited discounts, creating a quick digital marketing campaign to promote these is achievable in most cases. Getting signage made and printing flyers can be more labour intensive and expensive, especially if you are eager to adopt impactful designs.
Further to this, online marketing allows you to take advantage of analytics solutions to record and assess how well a particular campaign is performing. This will let you root out the most successful strategies and single out any approaches that are not performing particularly well. This allows you to be flexible with your promotional tactics and see exactly how they are leaving their mark on your target audience.
Whatever your take on digital marketing, it is important to remember that your web presence can be bolstered through offline promotions. The inclusion of CTAs on print ads and signage which point customers in the direction of your website and social accounts can help you to boost visitor numbers and earn more followers without having to rely on search engines and organic word of mouth.
Likewise you need to make sure that your online marketing represents your bricks and mortar presence in the best possible light. Images and videos of your store, branding and products will be a powerful inclusion.
Ultimately it is important to retain a balanced approach to marketing your business, never choosing to exclude a particular platform outright, because by putting all your eggs in one basket you could be missing out on important opportunities on a daily basis.
No matter what type of marketing you decide to put at the top of the agenda, whether online or off, it is vital to remember that there are no quick fixes for sluggish sales. Indeed if you are just starting out on your journey as a retail decision-maker, this article covering the 5 entrepreneur truths no one tells you about is an immensely helpful read. Dispel any preconceptions you have and ignore anyone promising you an easy route to the top; there is no such thing. The only way to get there is hard work and determination.
Michael Dunlop is a digital marketing specialist. With over 5 years in consultancy and marketing, he takes pride in sharing his experiences. In his spare time, he enjoys playing football, eating cheese, and road trips.