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Modern digital marketing has evolved beyond desktops and smartphones, giving decision makers new obstacles and opportunities alike.

How to Connect Your Online and Offline Marketing in 2020

David Bosley

Managing a digital marketing campaign in 2019 was tough. Just a year before, 2.62 billion worldwide users peaked the social media world. By 2021, experts believe this number will jump to three billion. Branded websites visited due to organic search decreased by two percent in 2019’s first quarter: a surprising turn from 2018’s two-percent, end-year growth spurt.

Between online users engaging, digesting and referring record-high amounts of content and increasingly mobilized consumers—it’s tough to narrow down lucrative cross-channel strategies capable of lasting seasonal shifts and annual trends. Understandably, many digital marketers are struggling to connect with their online fans—both new and old. What’s the deal?

In a few words: multi-screen engagement.

Life Beyond the Second Screen

Today's shoppers might conduct product searches online, but they're completing them in stores.

Multi-screen consumer engagement impacts most strategies, these days. Whether they’re using multiple devices simultaneously or sequentially, consumers love screen-hopping to fulfill their shopping needs, gather useful information and socialize with one another.

Multi-screen engagement isn’t new, but it’s certainly reached new heights in recent years. Here’s a quick snapshot of the current marketing climate with respect to device-swapping consumers:

-90 percent of people use multiple screens sequentially.

-38 percent of our daily media interactions are mobile-based.

-77 percent of television viewers engage another device while watching.

-67 percent of consumers have used multiple devices to shop online.

Consumers have a lot to pay attention to. Between their desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, their online access points are seemingly wherever it’s most convenient.

The Multi-Device Driving Factor: Physical Stores

Consumers are always on the go, using maps, on-location services, and local discounts to find the products they love.

Surprisingly, the Internet Age hasn’t completely swept customers away from brick-and-mortar stores. Quite the opposite: More online shoppers are flocking to physical locations to execute purchases. By and large, mobile geo-location services are responsible for the shift.

Services like Google Maps, Yelp, and Facebook location services have made it easier than ever for home-based product searchers to get up, go out and get what they want. But there are several other factors at play, too, such as:

Social Media

Social media is responsible for not only brick-and-mortar maps, consumer meetups, and brand fanbase gatherings—but for in-store product purchase inspirations directly.

47.5 percent of American online fashion shoppers, on average, made their last in-store fashion purchase because they were inspired by social media. Meanwhile, 43 percent of shoppers research products directly through social media before ever stepping foot into a store.

E-Commerce Wariness             

Despite the increasing safety of e-commerce, consumers seem to be more wary of creating online shopping accounts than ever before. Roughly 56 percent of American consumers ditch the account portal before taking their digital carts to checkout, and 32 percent actively avoid marketing emails.

Another 24 percent of online shoppers feel directly concerned with providing their personal information, and about 13 percent of online shoppers will abandon a brand forever after making a single purchase. While fears of online shopping aren’t enough to deter widespread e-commerce growth, they seem to be shifting more customers to physical storefronts every year.

Product Reviews

While product reviews are often touted for their ability to boost branded website product sales, they’ve become essential to brick-and-mortar sales, too. In fact, 30 percent of shoppers consider product reviews to be an essential component to understanding retailers—if, that is, the reviews come from people they identify with.

It isn’t rare to see smartphone-bound product research sessions end with a visit to Yelp, or even a well-regarded product review website. Upon browsing reviews from familiar faces and like-minded shoppers, many of these consumers will make their local retail outlet their next stop.

Personalization

In the past, personalized products and services were primarily used to customize online products before purchase. Now, however, brick-and-mortar stores have caught up to the demands of product diversity—and they’re doing a good job. Today’s shoppers can try on future clothing purchases via superimposed photo generators on branded websites, then toggling between their favorite clothing colors. Once they’ve found their ideal match, they need only reserve the product for an in-store pickup.

Such innovations have become increasingly important to modern shoppers, and the trend of digital-try-physical-buy isn’t going away anytime soon: 72 percent of consumers only engage with personalized brand messages on social media—particularly when they promote relevant products based upon previous buying behavior.

Connecting Two Worlds: Online and Offline Marketing

To create an effective marketing strategy in 2020, you'll need to make your online and offline approaches meet in the middle.

The advantages of marketing strategies capable of crossing numerous digital channels are evident. But what happens when consumers leave the online world entirely? Even if they hop from desktop to mobile, they’ll eventually abandon the screen completely upon approaching your storefront.

Is there a way to keep customer interest piqued both online and in the real world? What about continual customer engagement?

You’re in luck: There are several online-offline marketing strategies you can employ to embrace today’s unique industry struggles. Let’s check them out.

Strategy One: Entice Your Offline Fans with Online Rewards

One of the easiest ways to create a firm online-offline foundation for future fanbase growth is to implement an online rewards program directed towards your brick-and-mortar shoppers. Printed advertisements aren’t dead. Far from it: Brochures, coupons, and pamphlets offer major product and service marketing benefits. Use them to complement your online content strategy, unifying your brand’s message over the Internet and in your store. Or, use these advertisement pieces to provide useful product and service information to your customers.

If you provide a link within your print ad, you can market to in-store shoppers with immediate online benefits. Here are some great reward ideas:

-Discounts on your online store.

-A free branded podcast subscription.

-A behind-the-scenes look at your products.

-E-books and special reports.

If you combine this strategy with a pre-established email marketing campaign, your online-offline reach will double. Not only will you have more digital real estate to garner newsletter followers—but you’ll slowly grow an online audience derived from the consumers most likely to visit your store’s physical location.

Strategy Two: Inspire Your Online Customers with Offline Experiences

Even if you’re catering to a consumer group largely grounded in your brand’s e-commerce platform, you can still entice loyal customers to engage your brand offline. A great way to do this is by offering sponsored competitions, free giveaways, and local meetups.

To maximize your event reach, don’t be too concerned with contact information sharing, upfront. Rather than asking for an email list signup prior to your event, just focus on the event itself. Consumer fans who’re engaged with a brand’s real-life events are fans who’ll provide free exposure. In the digital marketing world, user-generated content is worth far more than a little extra conversion potential provided by an email list signup prompt.

Strategy Three: Post Your Offline Events Online

Whenever you create a marketing event, a community outreach event or even a sales event—don’t forget to advertise it on social media. This advertisement should include any important event information, such as its time, location, features, food considerations, dress codes and entry costs.

Before your event kicks off, give your followers insight into travel accommodations. Partner with local businesses, distributors and service providers, too. If you can garner a big enough of a crowd, your followers will promote the event themselves.

When your event is in full swing, post live updates on Facebook and Twitter. Take extra photos to post on Instagram later. You’d be surprised at how powerful a single comment thread praising an event can be—especially if it’s attached to a multimedia post featuring your event’s highlights.

Strategy Four: Make Your Brand Presence Seamless

In any marketing approach, it’s important to maintain a cohesive, inspiring brand appearance. This goes doubly for online-offline strategies. The average person only spends about 30 seconds absorbing digital content, only to be distracted by real-world obligations—or even another screen. Because you don’t have much time to catch the consumer’s attention, your brand should be instantly recognizable.

Even consumers prefer a unilateral brand experience: 40 percent of shoppers prefer brands that offer the same options online as they do in stores. For many marketers, this isn’t an issue. The issue stems from lacking consumer awareness due to a brand’s own lacking cohesion.

Your print, mobile, web and social media campaigns should each fall in line with your brand’s “style.” This style includes a variety of presentable brand aspects, such as infographic layouts, blog post tone, consistent deals, and even employee-customer relations. If you capitalize on crafting a perfectly seamless brand—you’ll jump well ahead of other brands who’re missing the mark.

Strategy Five: Encourage Online Experiences in Your Store

Click-and-collect shopping is trending hard, right now. 70 percent of online shoppers make item orders online—later collecting them from a brand’s brick-and-mortar location. Click-and-collect shopping is a great starting point for bringing your online and offline brand experiences together—but it shouldn’t be your only fully integrated brand experience.

Try implementing an augmented reality (AR) factor to your store’s experience. By allowing visitors to inspect, and even test, your brand’s online products in reality, you can blend both ends of the spectrum to meet in a memorable middle.

Strategy Six: Offer Same-Day In-Store Deals

There’s something to be said about same-day online-offline consumer engagement: It’s incredibly valuable. Amazon, for example, invested $13 billion in its acquisition of Whole Foods to provide instant-access food services for customers. Despite the modern consumer’s love of mobile buying and digital e-commerce options, a majority of sales still occur in brick-and-mortar locations.

About 76 percent of buyers searching for products and services online visit a local store within the same day—and many of these visits result in same-day purchases. Considering that Spotify’s own research into the matter resulted in an 80-percent estimated in-store sales rate until 2020—brick-and-mortar purchase priority isn’t expected to fade out anytime soon.

To encourage same-day, in-store purchases, include location-based deals, discounts, and coupons to customers who complete their product orders online. Even if the discount is a small one, simply prompting shoppers will be enough. This strategy synchronizes well with an intuitive seamless brand experience, too, keeping your business’s great offers in the mind’s eye of the customer from their computer to the checkout aisle.

Strategy Seven: Use Data to Provide Personalized Products

The average customer won’t complete a purchase until they’ve encountered a brand message at least seven times. This number varies, but its point is clear: Businesses intending to connect with their audience need to be highly visual to their audience, first.

The best way to attract the wandering online shopper’s eye is with personalized products. The digital selling world is highly competitive and even established brands struggle with getting consumer attention due to a wealth of product alternatives accessible to consumers.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to power your personalized product line with online data—rather than offline data. Not only is data more plentiful when it’s Internet-sourced, but it’s also more flexible with data analytics tools.

80 percent of shoppers are more likely to complete a purchase if their providing brand caters to their interests. As such, your aim should be to provide relevant, useful and interesting products capable of forging long-lasting bonds with your customers. Let your buyers know you’re listening to their wants and needs—and assure them you’re dedicated to understanding their buying considerations, fears, and priorities.

If your shoppers can find the right product on your website, and as soon as they want it, they’ll become much more loyal. They’ll also be much more likely to pay your business’s physical location a visit.

Strategy Eight: Get Featured on Offline-Accessible Apps

This is a neat strategy that’s commonly overlooked. Most marketers know that smartphones are only expected to grow in popularity—as well as mobile-first buying. Every day, Americans spend 4.5 hours on mobile, and as much as 80 percent of Millennials keep their devices nearby while they sleep.

Annual mobile phone sales might’ve amassed $60 billion in annual sales, recently, but their capacity for digital purchases is much more interesting: Approximately $1 trillion offline sales stem from mobile use. While the very existence of smartphones promotes brick-and-mortar purchases, however, there are several ways to double down on the real-world purchase favoritism powered by handheld product searches.

Offline accessible apps aren’t normally first-line tools used by marketers targeting online-offline conversions, mostly due to their perceived obscurity. It makes sense, too: Why would a brand sink scarce marketing dollars into associate app spotlights, local store features, and brand insights if said app’s usage largely takes place offline? These apps are technically ‘online-offline’ tools, but are they prominent enough to be a leading campaign cornerstone?

They absolutely are. Consider TripAdvisor, the well-known destination info app crammed with vacation rental listings, restaurant deals, flight information, and local hotspot insights. It’s available offline—giving customers full access to the app’s services even when connectivity isn’t possible.

If you can leverage the buyer’s love of smartphone shopping with beacon technology, and if your brand is featured on an online-offline app like TripAdvisor, you’ll secure an invaluable consumerism real estate spot. Transmit messages to shoppers as they browse your store, and keep them engaged on the fly—whether they’re traveling abroad or to a low-coverage area.

This is a guarantee: A shopper without online mobile access will still use their device. But they’ll only use its utilities and offline-capable apps.

Strategy Nine: Adopt an Offline SEO Strategy

Surprisingly, offline SEO is a thing. Just because a keyword can’t be instantly logged, analyzed and rated by an online system doesn’t reduce its value. Offline SEO mastery is an elusive marketing quality, but it’s a silver bullet when facing challenging online-offline conversion questions.

Here’s the deal: By implementing your brand’s strongest, most relevant, keywords into your store’s advertisements, discount coupons and product stands, you’ll directly increase your website’s SEO power. But why is this, exactly?

This phenomenon exists because consumers build subliminal expectations for a brand when shopping in physical locations. In the same way digital SEO markets to Internet search machines, real-life keyword usage markets to people.

This said you’ll need to narrow down your most valuable keywords into a more refined set. Keywords related to holiday specials, new product rollouts, discounts and anything online-exclusive are good resources to start with.

Strategy Ten: Don’t Worry Too Much About Perfect Data

This final strategy is a cautionary one. When it comes to online-offline marketing, data tends to be a little obtuse. A lot of digital marketers discard useful data because they fear it isn’t actionable enough. Unless it’s “perfect” or “complete” data, they disregard it completely.

This creates problems down the road, however, when such a marketing strategy is top-loaded with online-sourced data largely derived from consumer journey footprints. If a strategy’s driving analytics are powered by ad click rates, e-commerce purchases and page linger rates, it’ll flop the moment that offline cohesiveness becomes a focus.

Your physical location’s visits still have valuable data to be discovered, even if the data itself is a little bulky. Consider your offline-sourced data to be a “broader population” representation as opposed to acute target consumer insights. Then, leverage these insights against one another. In doing so, you’ll end up with a highly unique information pool solely definitive of your online-offline strategy’s conversion capacity in its entirety.

More than ever, a cohesive brand experience relies upon consistency.Remain Consistent, Both Online and Offline

Once you’ve embraced these strategies, you’ll have a solid foundation upon which new, effective and reliable online-offline strategies can be created. As with any digital marketing strategy, consistency is a virtue—and this is doubly true for online-offline approaches.

Both ends of the spectrum should be given separate attention equal to that of a single marketing campaign. While challenging, this type of approach will win the day in the long run.