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  • Writer's pictureLiz Maguire

Choosing a Channel: Digital or Offline?

When you're making your marketing map you're going to want to select a number of marketing channels for your brand or business which will bring in revenue. MailChimp defines a marketing channel as "the type of medium used to advertise your company". Note that this definition is not exclusively digital. In this post, we'll look at a selection of options for growing awareness -- and sales -- for your business within digital and offline channels.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash


Marketer Roger Edwards delivered a presentation at the 2023 Big Marketing Meetup in Belfast that argued for the dissolution of Digital in Digital Marketing. Digital Marketing channels are so much a part of overall marketing strategy now that Edwards argued it was time to stop siloing and start fusing the two. Elements of 'Traditional' marketing are still necessary to shape 'Digital' strategy -- the robots cannot yet do it all. To consider one element of your marketing map over the other is to leave opportunity on the table. A blend of the two is the way to move your brand or business forward.

There's going to be quite a few terms thrown around in this post. As always consult our glossary for more information.


Digital:


To best illustrate the options within digital marketing, let's first look at three 'platforms' or tools you can use to reach your customers online.



Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash


  • Website: Your website is your virtual shop front. Make sure that it is easy to use and designed with the visitor (potential customer) in mind. Having a clear course of action for the user to take (i.e. 'Click here for New Product' etc.) will help keep eyes on your page for longer.

    • Tip: When you launch a website make sure you have a lead capture form somewhere. This will allow visitors signup for newsletters/email marketing.

  • Social Media: Find where your audience 'hang out' online and be there. Recent trends are indicating that consumers are less interested in branded content and more looking for 'behind the scenes', or personal style content. By sharing User Generated Content (UGC) like reviews and photos from real customers or clients you are likely to build a reputation as a brand that engages with their audience. People are tired of being sold to. Treating your social media as a sales channel can be dangerous. Instead, use your social media as a means to communicate with your audience.

  • Email: 64% of brands use email marketing in their strategy. Building an engaged list of subscribers is the best thing you can do for your business, digitally. Treating them well is important! Always consider the customer experience when designing any communications.

  • SMS: 39% of businesses use SMS marketing in their strategy. Most sales -- or actions, depending on the Call to Action (CTA) you're prompting -- from an SMS happen within 3 minutes of sending. Contact them less often than email but expect more results.


Now that you're familiar with some of the tools, it's time to look at your website. By improving your website on the backend, your website may appear higher on search engines. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

the action of increasing -- with spend -- your ranking across search engines like Google or Bing to drive more sales. This is achieved through the use of keywords, page headlines, meta descriptions, URLs, etc. SEO deals only with non-paid results. SEO is not paid media.

If you've ever been looking at a product on a website and then left the website, visited a news site and seen ads for that product on the newsite? That's paid media -- well really, it's retargeting -- but it falls within Paid Media (i.e ads):

The action of applying spend to certain channels to increase visibility and find new customers to increase conversion rate, i.e. display ads, paid search, shopping ads, social media ads, etc. Paid search (i.e. search engine ads) are part of a paid media strategy.

Offline:


Otherwise referred to as 'traditional' marketing, offline marketing as a channel still has it's merits when married to your digital strategy.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash


  • Print Media:

    • Are you using a direct mail strategy in your business? The ability to target, track and stand out against competitors alone should have you designing (sustainable) print media for dispatch.

    • Does your business have a brochure? Consider digitizing to reduce paper waste but prioritizing well designed, concise and effective 'print' materials -- that translate/transfer to the digital sphere --should be foundational in your branding.

    • Is there a community newspaper or magazine that you believe your product or service would fit for an advertisement? This can be an expensive campaign and depending on size, the the results will vary.

      • Tip: Use a custom coupon code in your advertisement so that you can track any inquires or sales from the advertisement in your CRM system.

  • 'Out of Home' Advertising (i.e. signage & billboards): Depending on the size and scope of your business, 'Out of Home' advertising can be a great way to build familiarity with your brand. This might work best for service industry (i.e. plumbing, window repair, professional cleaning) rather than an ecommerce brand. However, there's very little data tracking available on advertising like signage or billboards so be prepared to spend but not necessarily map ROI.

  • Networking: Yes, believe it or not sometimes the best thing for growing awareness for your brand is going out and talking about it! Have you defined the 'IT' of your business? When you have a few versions of your 'It' perfected for different target audiences (i.e. investors, potential partners, possible leads) start to look for networking groups in your area or more broadly in your industry. By attending regular networking events you will start to grow a root system of connections that will support -- and suggest! -- your business in the future.

  • Events: If you are in a service industry (i.e. professional coaching, fitness instructor, home decorator, etc.) consider hosting your own events, virtually or in your community. These events can bring in fresh footfall as well as allow for an opportunity to promote your brand directly. By partnering with similar 'experts' in your field you can share expenses and cross audiences.


So in conclusion, Roger Edwards was right when he suggested marrying digital and traditional marketing under 'marketing'. Digital strategy is hugely influenced by the hallmarks of traditional marketing (i.e. customer first, meeting a pain point, creative assets etc.).


Summary:

Digital marketing channels such as your website, social media, email & SMS are important for establishing your business as reputable and reliable. Your SEO and paid media strategy affects directing people to your digital marketing channels. Offline marketing like print media, 'Out of Home' advertising, networking and events help expand your network and grow the business also.


Get in Touch.

Have a question about marketing channels? We can help you design a strategy for success. Write us an email at liz@litirmarketing.com.

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