4 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Online and Offline Marketing

Modern Marketing


With the growing number of connected devices today, consumers interact with brands in several ways. The implication for marketers is that they need to think holistically about the customer experience, using and integrating relevant channels and touchpoints. Often, we think of marketing as being “online” and “offline” or “traditional.” But, with wearables, smart TVs and the internet of things, the line between the two is blurring. No longer can your marketing be divided into these separate entities, so bridging the gap in online and offline marketing is essential.

In fact, per Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey, 98% of marketers say online and offline marketing are merging. While many organizations view and structure these disciplines separately, successful marketing not only leverages them both but also connects them to deliver an integrated experience.

Here are 4 ways you can start closing the gap between offline and online channels for your organization:

1. Connect Email and Direct Mail

Compared to others, email is an older channel, but it is still widely used, reliable and here to stay. What makes email marketing effective is its ability to reach inboxes with relevant and personalized content. What can make it even more powerful, though, is triggering direct mail as a follow-up to email marketing campaign.

As an example, a retail bank has sent out 500,000 emails to potential customers to open checking accounts. Rather than follow-up with all of them with postcards, the bank’s marketing automation solution can trigger direct mail to only those that did not open the email within seven days of receipt. This simply requires a workflow using a direct mail integration with an engagement platform and incorporates consumer behavior (or in this case, non-behavior) to inform and shape their marketing campaign.

2. Deliver Timely, Relevant Offers with Geo-location and Mobile

Technology such as beacons can work wonders when combined with advanced segmentation in your marketing automation solution. With this type of integration, brands can push targeted offers to their customers. For example, tour companies can analyze a customer’s location history to suggest activities, events, and offers based on customers’ locations. Information about past behavioral patterns can enable advertisers to forecast a customer’s location and serve meaningful offers based on their routine.

In this example, you can see the email sent by Lyft immediately after the user opened the app and closed it in a specific location.

Geo-location email

3. Use Vanity URLs to Drive Offline Traffic Online

Vanity URLs are shortened web addresses that are easy to remember. So, when your customers are interacting with an offline asset, such as a billboard or print ad, they can visit your landing page at a later time, without having to navigate to it from your homepage. What’s more, you can also include URL parameters in the “hidden” URL to track visits and conversions from your offline channel(s) more accurately. Additionally, you can leverage digital advertising to retarget those that visited your advertised URL but didn’t complete your desired action, like fill out the form. As an example, an airline runs ads for an offer on their outdoor, print and radio ads incorporating their unique vanity URL, and then retarget those visitors on social to “get out of the cold this winter”!

In the example below, you can see a vanity URL in action on a billboard.

4. Integrate Technologies to Track Cross-Channel Influence

There are several technologies that have API or other types of integrations to enable smoother and more cohesive customer experiences across channels. For example, Facebook integrates with technologies like Square and Marketo to track purchases post ad-views. Beyond purchases, Facebook is also able to track physical store visits after seeing an ad. This can be done through GPS, beacons, Wi-Fi, radio signals, and cell towers with brick-and-mortar coordinates. An example of this in action is when a gym chain uses alerts to let branch managers prioritize calls to local individuals who have not accessed the gym in a few months. Or, an insurance firm attends local, family-friendly events, where they source contact information with interactive content on iPads capturing consent to opt-in individuals into nurture programs.

These are just a few ways to reduce the gap between online and offline marketing, for more please download our ebook on the topic. What are some of the ways you are delivering a cohesive and cross-channel experience to your customers? We would love to hear them!