Integrating Online and Offline Marketing

9/12/2007

- Amber Frensley, Client Strategist

It should come as no surprise that the marketing industry is evolving as a whole. Marketing experts and business professionals from around the globe are all trying to figure out the best way to target their audience. For years, marketers have said that the best way to sell a product is to reach as many consumers as possible. Although reach is still important in today’s marketing world, engagement is the key - which is why marketers are turning more and more to the capabilities of digital and online media. Marketing experts are constantly trying to convince their clients to try the “next best thing”.

Well, what is the next best thing? Is it hiring a college student to tattoo your brand’s name on their forehead? Is it spending some of your marketing dollars online? Is it mobile advertising, starting a blog, implementing a Full Page/Four Color ad in Better Homes and Garden, or running a :15 second broadband commercial on CNN.com?

My vote is for all of the above, well- maybe not the tattoo part! After working in a traditional advertising agency, I have seen several clients hesitate to be the first to jump on board to any new medium, especially online marketing. So many have said, “Well, my National Cable media buy has been working for us so far, why should we spend our media dollars in anything else?”

The answer? Consumers are busy! They gather their media information from different sources. You may not to be able to target your consumer the same ways that have worked in the past. The key to engaging a consumer is to figure out their daily media patterns. Do they listen to a morning radio show on the way to work, gather information on search engines during the day, view out-of-home billboards on their drive home, and then settle down for a primetime television show during dinner?

The key to a successful marketing campaign is to integrate digital media with traditional media. How good is a salad if it only contains lettuce? Not very! It needs to have the carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, dressing, etc. Yes, I am comparing a salad with a marketing campaign. An effective marketing campaign needs to have a variety of options/channels

There has been a lot of discussion that traditional media such as newspaper, magazine, and radio are diminishing. I feel that no medium will disappear entirely, but each will have to learn how to adapt. There has been a huge shift from mass reach to targeted engagement. Consumers have taken control of both their entertainment options as well as their media options.

Driven by changes in the media-consumption patterns of today’s consumers, on-line advertising is receiving an increasing share of media budgets today. Online advertising offers greater opportunities to not only target finer segments, but also to optimize messaging on a daily basis. This shift raises the need for advertisers to better understand how online marketing can be integrated with traditional media and marketing practices.

Integrating online marketing and traditional media creates synergy. Using multiple media in a campaign has a greater impact than an individual medium by itself. The more interactions you can engage a consumer in, the greater the likelihood of winning them over to your brand and/or making a purchase.

There are several levels of a buying cycle. Consumers gather information about products and services from different sources before making a purchase. Each impression builds on the other by reaching the consumer at a different time in the buying cycle. If the message is consistent across various online and offline advertising media, the repetition will capture and retain the consumer's attention.

In the early 90’s consumers essentially had five major media options: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards. Today, consumers are faced with hundreds of media options: search engines, websites, e-mail, cell phones, podcasts, DVR/Tivo, transit, etc. Consumers are overwhelmed by media choices and are therefore migrating away from ad-supported media and spending more time with consumer generated media such as podcasts, Facebook applications, Myspace profiles, YouTube videos, etc. They want what they want when they want it- especially in terms of the media they view. That is why search engine marketing, behavioral targeting, and social media have exploded!

Search engine marketing should be considered an essential part of any overall marketing campaign, online and offline. Search is the ultimate form of pull marketing. Its marketing value is the ability to put a message in front of people who overtly express an interest in a particular product/service, via a keyword. Integrating search into the marketing mix allows you to catch the consumer when they are already interested in your product/service. It also allows you to test your offline messaging before it goes live.

As marketers, educating ourselves is vital. I think it is important to really understand the client’s overall goals and objectives. If we take the time to learn how traditional media has worked for them in the past, then we can better incorporate online media into the mix. Who says that your media budget has to be spent either online or offline?

The overall goal for any client is to improve their business. Our job as marketers is to make that happen! Try bringing online and offline media together and see how well it works for your campaigns.

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