Offline Is On! Engaging Your Offline Customers

As I look forward to attending this year’s Direct Marketing Association conference in San Diego, I have been reflecting upon the many changes that digital media has brought upon marketing on all levels. This change is not only affecting how I act as a marketer, but also how I interact with brands during my everyday life.

For example, while I was recently vacationing in New Hampshire, Foursquare notified me of a nearby restaurant that it thought I would like as I was passing by. Coincidentally, my family and I were already searching for a restaurant; we ended up choosing that restaurant and had a wonderful experience.

Online and Offline Resources Must Work Together

The situation discussed above is a clear refection on how offline and online marketing resources are becoming more intertwined. A consumer’s physical presence near a store location is a prime opportunity for brands to sustain customer engagement via personalized messages and offers, fliers, digital billboards, and storefront signs. In my case, the restaurant leveraged the power of geolocation as a marketing resource in order to gain my attention. In essence, Foursquare became the restaurant’s personalized digital billboard. The fact that I was already near the restaurant strengthened their ability to attract me. In fact, were it not for the Foursquare notification, my family and I would have likely passed by the restaurant without a second thought.

This geolocation marketing message incident is a prime example of how offline and online marketing resources are working together to provide better customer experiences and occurrences such as the ones above are not mere happenstance. Consumers are looking to the (mobile?) Web as a reliable information resource even as they are being bombarded with physical marketing materials.

For a marketing leader such as yourself, this means that in order for your company to remain competitive, you must go beyond simply adding the latest digital marketing tools to your repertoire. Marketers understand the shift in consumer behavior and are eager to target today’s consumer wherever they are. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of US marketers are already using mobile marketing, and another 24 percent are planning to in the next 12 months. (A. Silverman and L. Varon, “The Emerging Technologies of the Digital Store,” Forrester, Sept. 3, 2014.) You need to incorporate mobile and other digital technologies as active participants in your offline marketing campaign and making sure all these touch-points are telling your audience a consistent story.

As you can imagine, integrating digital and offline marketing campaigns will require quite a bit of automation. (I would have never gotten the Foursquare notification if it were not for automation.)

Internet and Physical World Should Be Working With—Not in Spite of—Each Other

For the new marketer, digital marketing is no longer about who can get the most attention from people actively searching for a business like theirs. As a new marketer, you must also find ways to use online and offline to make every customer experience relevant and personalized in real time whether consumers are browsing a website or walking down a store aisle.

As always, feel free to post any comments or questions below.