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Where the People Are: Modern Marketing Strategies for Multi-Channel Brands

Samuel Edwards

As the popularity of online shopping grows, we’re seeing traditional brick-and-mortar businesses dip their feet into the waters of E-commerce.

At the same time, it’s also becoming increasingly popular for E-commerce businesses to establish their own physical presences in key geographical markets.

The result is a more complex marketplace where modern marketing strategies must involve both online and offline efforts.

Related Article: Not So Trendy: 3 Online Marketing Strategies That Are Never Going Away

Understanding Integrated Marketing

One term for the blending of online and offline customer engagement is “integrated marketing.” According to a study by Relevate Group, 46 percent of digital marketers now want to use integrated marketing to blend their online and offline tactics for a more harmonious brand image.

“For integrated marketing campaigns to be successful, you must let the customer have fun with it;” affirms Jordan Edwards, president of Mixology Clothing Company.

“We recently launched a marketing campaign called #HOWiMIX where we incentivize our customers to show us how they integrate their Mixology pieces into their lifestyle. Integrated marketing is the piece of the puzzle that made this campaign successful.We’ve promoted the campaign through Facebook and email marketing telling customers to tag us on Instagram for a chance to be featured in our blog. They are tagging us from their home, when they visit our stores and even from vacation. The customers love it while seamlessly using integrated marketing online and offline.”

And while integrated marketing can be used by any company, including those that are exclusively online or exclusively offline, it’s an approach that’s maximized by multi-channel brands who want to thrive both in brick and mortar and E-commerce.

When you look at companies with successful integrated marketing strategies, major names like Sephora, Target, Walmart, and Nike come to mind.

They all do an effective job of creating and executing marketing strategies that simultaneously drive foot traffic and clicks. But you don’t have to have a million dollar marketing budget to create your own integrated marketing campaigns.

5 Strategies for Your Own Brand

As a business with an online and offline presence, you need to focus on integrated marketing efforts that allow you to bridge the gap between brick and mortar and E-commerce without watering down your message or missing out on opportunities for engagement.

Here are a handful of strategies and tips you may find helpful:

1. Speaking Engagements

One strategy that’s become increasingly popular in recent years is in-person speaking engagements.

While speaking engagements have always been an important part of the business world, they’re now being leveraged as marketing opportunities.

The reason is that speaking engagements which one study claims are the second most popular way to obtain leads, have both online and offline value.

Looking at the offline side of things, speaking engagements allow brands to engage with customers in a very personal way.

This face-to-face communication is priceless and quickly establishes trust that would otherwise take weeks, months, or even years to build online.

From the online side of things, the growth of social media and video streaming platforms like YouTube mean in-person speaking engagements and events can now be rebroadcasted online for continued value.

For example, let’s say your brand hosted an event where it discussed how changes in athletic apparel technology are impacting the health and safety of amateur athletes.

While there’s certainly a lot of value to be extracted from the actual speaking engagement, where there may be a few hundred people in attendance, there’s exponentially more value to be gained from publishing a video of the engagement online.

You can stream it on YouTube, write a blog post that goes into more detail about a particular element, and use social media to drive traffic to your website.

When it comes to speaking engagements, there’s a lot of crossover. This makes it a great marketing tool for brands operating in both online and offline spheres.

Related Article: Successful Business Leaders Tell All: Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

2. Expanding with Social

While television commercials and advertisements certainly hold some value, they’re fairly restricting in the sense that marketers are forced to work within the constraints of time and space.

One way marketers are maximizing the benefits of traditional media while also driving online activity is by starting campaigns on TV and then encouraging users to go online for more interaction.

John Hancock, a large financial company that offers both online and offline services, gives us a good example of what this looks like in practice.

In their 2014 “Life Comes Next” ad campaign, they successfully integrated TV, online, and social media by broadcasting TV commercials and then encouraging viewers to head online to view one of three endings.

It was successful because it maximized broadcast airtime while simultaneously encouraging users to engage with the brand online.

Other brands that have been successful with this approach include Old Spice; asking viewers to Tweet comments and questions to one of its Super Bowl commercial characters; and GoDaddy, which has traditionally offered family friendly advertisements on TV and more risque versions online.

3. Combining Print and Digital Media

As everyone knows, print media, and newspapers in particular, are sadly shriveling up and losing readers. However, those that still read physical newspapers hold these publications in high regard.

According to a Harris Interactive study, 69 percent of American adults trust their local newspapers. Furthermore, a Nielsen study reveals that 54 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product after discovering it in a newspaper or magazine ad.

As a brand with both an online and offline presence, the value here is obvious. Not only do newspaper advertisements do an effective job of driving foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, but they can also be used to increase online sales.

The best strategy is to offer “online only” coupon codes in print media. This allows you to get your message to customers who may otherwise not be exposed to your Internet presence.

4. Mobile Check-Ins

One of the more obvious strategies involves enabling mobile check-ins at brick-and-mortar store locations.

The benefit here is that you’re able to engage customers who are in your store while also broadcasting their physical interactions to their online networks.

This creates some natural crossover between your online and offline storefronts.

While the customer who checks into your store may purchase something from the brick-and-mortar location, you get the simultaneous benefit of piquing the interest of online customers.

You’re essentially adding extra value to your in-store customers.

5. Custom URLs for Traceable Offline Campaigns

Whereas online campaigns can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where traffic is coming from and how they’re engaging with your brand, offline campaigns are extremely challenging to analyze.

There just aren’t adequate ways to measure involvement and penetration.

However, there is one option. By creating custom URLs and web pages, or even full websites, you can direct offline customers to dedicated pages that allow you to conduct real life split testing.

While your traffic numbers will be very small compared to online campaigns, the data you do produce can prove quite valuable for optimizing the future of the offline campaign.

Related Article: A Look Inside: What Will Be the Big Online Marketing Trends for 2016?

Merging Online and Offline Efforts for Maximum Return

As you can see, there are plenty of ways for multichannel brands to maximize customer engagement both online and offline.

And if you’re maintaining both a brick-and-mortar and ecommerce presence, it’s critically important that you pay attention to both sides of marketing.

These are just a few tips and examples of what modern marketing can look like for multi-channel brands.

Use them as launching points for your own creativity and exploration.

With so many tools, technologies, and platforms now available to brands, there’s no reason not to expand your marketing strategy in the coming months.

Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images
Samuel Edwards Member
In his five-plus years as a digital marketing strategist, Sam has worked with countless local businesses as well as large enterprise companies and organizations including: NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, D.C.-based law firm Price Benowitz LLP, and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a public speaker and has given a TEDx Talk, spoken at the Sundance Film Festival, and is a frequent speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series. Today he continues to work with and establish SEO, PPC, and SEM campaigns across all verticals.