The Benefits of Combining Online and Offline Marketing Strategies

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” but with the rise of digital media and the power that it can bring to your brand, it can be tough to heed the warning. Digital marketing is relatively easy, cost-effective and, with nearly everyone spending more and more time on their phone or tablet, it’s possible to market your brand’s message close to 24-hours a day.

It’s no surprise then, that according to some studies, the increase in digital marketing has coincided with a synchronous decline in television, radio, and the oldest form of advertising, print. But still, this format has stuck around, showing its use in the digital age. How can you take advantage then? We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each medium, and how to take an integrated approach by using a print and digital advertising mix in your campaigns.

The Advantages of Print Marketing

When considering print marketing, you may find the words of Boomers ringing in your head: “I just like having something I can hold in my hands.” Well, science has actually backed that up. Print is:

  • Tangible: Studies have shown that tangible media can be emotionally powerful, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity in the reader.

Disadvantages of Print Marketing

  • Difficult to measure impact: It can be difficult to get data on exactly how many eyes fell on your print ad, how much time was spent reading or looking at your ad, and whether or not your ad converted into sales.
  • Slow: In a digital culture, where instant gratification is routinely expected, measuring the impact of a print marketing campaign is more difficult simply for the amount of time it can take to see results.

The Advantages of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing approaches can provide insights into what worked, what didn’t, track customer buying behavior, and the ability to estimate return on investment (ROI). Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of digital marketing:

  • Access to an audience: Digital marketing provides potential access to a wide audience across ages and locations, or it can target a specific audience based on their browsing behavior.
  • Integrates multiple forms of media: Digital ads can create an interactive, multimedia experience that brings together photos, audio, and video.
  • Fast and cheap: In addition to all of these advantages, digital marketing is often fast and cost-effective.

Disadvantages of Digital Marketing

  • Annoying? If used incorrectly, the power of digital ads can also be off-putting, interrupting what a user is doing. Think about how often auto-play pop-up ads have negatively affected your own browsing experience.
  • Tough to stand out: The ubiquity of digital marketing may make it difficult for your brand to stand out amidst the crowd of other digital brand messages. Further, an over-reliance on programmatic buying can waste money on irrelevant sites.

Best Practices for Combining Your Online and Offline Marketing Strategies

While online and offline marketing have their own respective pros and cons, they play a complementary role to the other. A unified marketing approach utilizing both online and offline strategy in an integrated way can be powerful for growing your brand awareness, – and help you measure more effectively across all mediums.

Simple Ways to Bring Your Offline Audience Online

  • Include URLs on printed material: One very simple integration is to include your URL or a distinct landing page URL on all offline marketing materials. In this way, any viewer of offline materials is made aware of your brand’s online presence. In addition, using a URL shortening service, like bitly, can make it easier for a reader to type it – and also allow you to track visits as part of a campaign.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs): Including a CTA or offering valuable promotions or additional content can help drive engagement back online. In fact, a survey from C&EN showed that 59% of people visited a company’s webpage after seeing an ad in our print magazine, while another 15% contacted the company.
  • Social Media: Live events create additional opportunities to include catchy hashtags on printed material, so that visitors to your booth or exhibit can engage with your brand on social channels. In addition, using eye-catching imagery at live events can inspire visitors to post Instagram pictures and raise brand awareness.

Bringing Your Online Audience Offline

  • Digital opt-ins: One simple way to leverage online marketing is by having digital opt-ins for direct mailing or other promotional print materials. With GDPR, this level of consent is more important than ever, and is arguably responsible for driving better engagement.
  • Using online content in printed materials: The online activities of customers, such as Twitter posts and Instagram photos, can also be included in print materials. At C&EN, we routinely feature these types of comments in our print magazine. Or take our Chemistry In Pictures contest, which started as a Tumblr blog, and is now routinely featured in our print pages.

    Other online content, such as blog posts, can easily be converted to print media and used in trade publications, magazines, or newspapers, and serves as a nice takeaway for event attendees, too.
  • Social media and live events: Cultivating a strong online and social media presence can help organize a live event, where you can create an event tailored to your most engaged online users. During these events, additional offline marketing materials can be used as described above.

A Note on the Ultimate Online and Offline Experience: Augmented Reality

Technology is moving pretty quickly, providing many new tools for advertising. Augmented reality (AR) is rapidly increasing in popularity and availability, enabling users to experience an interactive, emotional, and lifelike experience, all through the use of their mobile phone. This makes for an attractive marketing tool. Use of augmented reality marketing can be marker-based, where customers use their mobile phone cameras to scan a QR code, piece of content, or even their own body using their mobile camera, to activate digital content. ACS has recently made use of AR technology to share video stories of editors through the use of the ACS Stories app. They connected an offline experience, high-profile banners stands throughout a recent ACS national meeting, to encourage interactivity with the content.

In the sciences, augmented reality has been used in a number of educational objectives: NASA has created an app, called Spacecraft 3D, that gives users a 3D view of NASA spacecrafts. The technology has also been used for medical applications, with companies like 3D4Medical, offering 3D models of various anatomical structures for viewing and manipulation. The use of AR in the trade show environment to attract booth visitors has become popular as well. For instance, Zappar, an augmented reality company, has helped medical device company, Accuray, demo their large-scale products. This saved Accuray the cost of transporting and setting up a real-life product.

Choosing the Right Mix of Online and Offline Marketing for Your Audience

Print, digital, and AR-based marketing campaigns have their own unique pros and cons and fill very distinct niches in the online and offline advertising process. Though the strategies that each of them take are different, they can be combined, augmenting the impact of the other.

Integrated online and offline marketing may require additional coordination of various marketing teams and extra advertising costs, but it is well worth the effort. Marketing through multiple online and offline channels can result in significant brand growth and – the ultimate goal – additional sales.

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