In an era where online marketing is crucial to business success, it can be easy to forget to include offline marketing . However, this could prove to be a big mistake.
Incorporating offline data in a marketing campaign can strengthen online marketing ROI through deeper insights into your organization’s customers and their behaviors in the real world.
Most modern-day marketers understand this. They know that customers switch between physical and digital worlds freely while they move through the buyer’s journey.
This makes Online-to-Offline - also known as O2O - marketing an effective way for businesses to reach customers at all touchpoints to drive engagement and sales.
In this article, we explore how to optimize that relationship to improve customer experience, engagement and brand awareness.
What is O2O Commerce?
In Online-to-Offline (O2O) commerce, companies treat their online and offline marketing channels as complementary instead of competitive. Some examples include:
- Click and collect - where customers buy products online and then pick them up in-store
- Online shopping during a physical visit
- Returning items purchased online to a physical store
A testament to the importance of O2O was demonstrated in Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.
Amazon invested over $13 billion in the acquisition because they understood an undeniable reality about consumers: Despite all the fascination with devices and digital services, most sales still happen in physical stores.
76% of consumers who search for products or services in their local area end up visiting a store within a day, with many of these visits resulting in purchases. Spotify estimates show that over 80% of retail sales will happen in stores to 2021, and possibly beyond.
These stats make it clear that an effective marketing campaign can’t afford to overlook offline strategies.
How Can Marketers Optimize The O2O Experience?
An IBM study shed light on how today’s consumers expect an exciting and engaging shopping experience in stores, similar to the one offered online.
In spite of this, almost 90% of brands aren’t set up to cater to these demands. Consequently, many brands are falling behind, leaving customers unsatisfied with the service and experience they get in physical stores.
There are numerous ways to enhance the customer experience by utilizing digital technology on site to make shopping a more enjoyable time for consumers—and a more profitable campaign for marketers.
Let’s look at 7 ways businesses can optimize their online and offline marketing activities:
1. Permit Online Activities to Happen Offline
One of the biggest trends in retail is click-and-collect shopping, with more than 70% of customers taking advantage of the ability to order items online and collect them in a nearby store.
This simple marketing technique feeds directly into the consumer’s desire for instant gratification, which is now the norm, thanks to services like Netflix and Uber that make it easier to get what we want without waiting. This encourages more customers to visit physical retail locations, which then increases the chances of impulsive buys.
2. Harness the Potential of Immersive Technology
Our world is changing rapidly as technology continues to disrupt and morph industries, creating more opportunities for many businesses.
Augmented reality (AR) allows users to inspect and test digital products in the physical world, blending overlapping realities in an interactive experience that offers a customer experience quite unlike any other.
One such example is Magnolia Market. The company claim that this technology allows customers to feel inspired by the experience, all from the palm of their hands.
3. Improve Personalization with Data Insights
According to Entrepreneur, the average customer won’t make a purchase until they have been exposed to a brand message seven times.
While that number can vary, the point is clear: Companies must connect with their audience before a sale is possible. In the crowded and competitive online world, that is getting more difficult, especially for new brands.
Offline marketing campaigns can suffer as companies make poor choices based on assumptions rather than hard data. Personalization has come to the fore, and the companies who invest resources in data analytics stand to gain a lot in the form of a more personalized, tailored service that responds to the behaviors of their audience.
As 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that cater to their interests, it’s obvious that personalization counts for a lot.
The aim is to forge a bond with customers, letting them know you are listening to them, that you understand them and overall, proving your company is the best at serving their needs,
Being able to offer the right product at the right time creates an unrivaled experience, which breeds loyalty to your brand.
4. Prioritise Mobile-First
We all know that mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. Moreover, they are quickly becoming the dominant force, with consumers opting for their devices over desktops.
Statistics show that Americans spend upwards of 4.5 hours on their smartphone every day, and 80% of millennials sleep with their phone nearby.
What might be surprising is that this obsession with mobile does not spell the end of offline marketing. Forrester reports that annual sales for mobile phones have soared north of $60 billion, but that number is relatively small compared to the $1 trillion in offline sales that is directly influenced by mobile phone use.
While the landscape is changing, brands can track the changes and evolve with them so that it’s possible to connect with customers at various touchpoints, both online and offline.
TripAdvisor is an example of a brand that has made their app available offline, allowing customers to benefit from their services even when internet connectivity is not an option.
Businesses can also leverage the love of mobile by using beacon technology in their stores, transmitting messages to customer’s devices as they move around the store.
71% of retailers can use beacons to track customer buying patterns and then analyse and adapt their marketing to offer a better service.
5. Link KPIs for Online and Offline Marketing
Companies need to make big decisions on their budgets, investments, and marketing strategy, all of which must ensure the highest possible ROI. By choosing to only look at online operations and omit offline avenues, it will be significantly more difficult to achieve your marketing goals
More companies are realizing the value of aligning their KPIs for online and offline marketing, with studies showing that:
- 47% of companies now focus using their offline marketing to boost online traffic and engagement
- Conversely, 68% of companies are using their online marketing to drive brand loyalty – a traditional goal of offline marketing
- 65% of companies use online marketing activities to encourage offline engagement
Although e-commerce teams and in-store staff tend to work as separate units, companies can align their sales and marketing initiatives so that everyone and everything is geared to working towards the same goals.
6. Be Flexible with Your Campaign
It’s not always easy to determine the best keywords to target or the most important KPIs to set when measuring the success of any marketing campaign.
In the digital landscape, the state of retail is dramatically changing, which affects both online and offline marketing.
Many factors change, including:
- Our customers and their desires
- The company skillset and experience
- Performance capabilities
- Competitors and their strategies
- Our knowledge of our own companies
As a result, it’s impossible to just set and forget your KPIs. There is no such thing as a perfect set.
When companies want to optimize their online and offline campaign, it is important to consider this and think about which KPIs to change or retire.
7. Develop Offline and Online SEO
For many companies, offline SEO is somewhat of a mystery. Many make the error of disregarding SEO in offline marketing, believing it has no impact on your online performance.
When customers find a company through organic search, it’s clear that online SEO is working well. This translates to higher expectations for offline interactions as consumers approach physical stores confidently based on user reviews, social proof, and a good online presence.
Just as SEO must market to people, not machines, companies must ensure their offline service is consumer-centric. It should reflect your online SEO, building upon the value and connections that your online marketing has developed.
Alignment Is Key to Success
It’s easy to discount the impact of offline activities on your online operations. With digital transformation being such a major focus for many businesses, it’s understandable that many companies are choosing to focus heavily on online marketing.
However, despite the drive towards digitalization, companies must remember that they are still selling to humans. People care about making a connection with brands and seek out enjoyable experiences. In many cases, that means going to physical stores to do their shopping.
Marketers need to look for ways in which their online and offline channels can complement each other so that their marketing campaigns are aligned. By using new technology such as data insights, store apps and beacons, companies can increase personalization efforts and communicate with their customer base offline.
They can also take advantage of the prevalence of mobile users and work on satisfying the overarching desire for a faster and better service.
Companies that build on traditional principles and adopt a customer-centric approach will be able to build a stronger reputation, both online and offline, which will breed the customer loyalty needed to make their marketing campaign more successful.