Thursday, March 6, 2008

Integrate Offline With Online Advertising

Recently, I discussed the necessity of integrating Search and offline marketing. I read a very interesting study published in August 2007. and JupiterResearch conducted this study. I believe their study has direct implications for small business marketing, discussed in my earlier post.

The study's objective was " gain a better understanding of how exposure to offline channels influences their search and purchasing behavior." In a recent presentation I gave on the subject "How Small Business Use the Internet", I stated that the two most prevalent internet activities are search and email. It is imporant to understand the effect different advertising channels play in Search. The study analyzed if search happens in a vacuum or if offline advertising channels plays a role.

The study asked the following question:
Within the last six months, which of the follow prompted you to go to a search engine and look for information on a particular company, product, service or slogan? Select all that apply." It revealed that 2/3rds of search result from exposure to some off line advertising. They also found that 33% of searches, initiated from offline advertising, resulted in a purchase.

What is the marketing implications for the Small to Mid Size Business? Historically, small business traditionally advertises in:
  • Local newspapers
  • Circulars
  • Local Shoppers
  • Industry specific magazines
  • Cooperative direct mail programs such as Val Pak
  • Solo direct mail for acquisition and/or customer retention
Increasingly, small business are developing a web presence. The study should influence small business marketing. Obviously, the business must have a website.(See my post "Why Small Business Need the Internet").

Based on this study's findings, small businesses must have a multi channel approach to marketing. All to often, small business use a scatter approach without any relevancy between advertising channels. This is a mistake as this study reveals.

The ways of integrating are boundless. For example,
  1. Begin with an advertisement in a local flyer or circular driving traffic to your site. Have the visitor register online with some inducement or discount on your service. The contact information should include their email address (adhering to all opt-in standards). You now have a means of communicating future promotions that originated with a off line channel.
  2. Integration can be very simple. A local pizzeria client placed his web address on all pizza boxes. When those pizza boxes leave the restaurant, they are a billboard driving web traffic.
  3. Expanding on #2, place a "post-it" on the outside of the pizza box with a series of coupons with different expiration dates. The coupon is only valid on web purchases.
  4. There is always tried and true direct mail. In 2002, the Winterberry Group conducted a study on the interaction between direct mail and its ability to increasing website traffic. Using this channel increased web traffic by 21%. This channel can be used for customer promotions. Use your customer database to advertise new products or services your customers may be interested. Drive the customers to your site with an inducement not offered for off line purchase. (If your customer has not already done so, make sure they register online).
  5. Re-solicit customers who have not purchased from you in a while (6 months or one year). Perhaps they don't know you have a website? Maybe they moved? With a website, you are not geographic bound. (Collect their any missing contact information, especially email addresses for future communication.
These are some examples of media well known to small businesses. Some of them are free (printing your web address on a pizza box). Others cost some marketing dollars. However, when combined with Search Engine Optimization and Paid Per Click programs, this study suggests that offline marketing compliments Search marketing programs.

Your comments and other examples are welcome.

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