Why Offline Marketing is Far More Powerful Than Most People Realize

Why Offline Marketing is Far More Powerful Than Most People Realize
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Have you ever watched to see what people are doing when they’re standing on the street staring down at their phone or sitting at their computer surfing the web? The answer often times is nothing. They’re doing nothing. Sure, they’re doing things, but their eyes are generally glossed over. They’re numb. Online marketing, while powerful in many ways, is becoming more and more challenged simply because of all the noise online.

That’s not to say online marketing isn’t useful, because it’s clearly valuable, but the best marketing efforts are a balanced marriage between online and offline channels. Not one, both.

And while virtually everyone puts all their eggs in the “online basket,” they are missing the incredible potential for offline marketing channels such as direct mail, call centers, and point of sale systems. That opportunity not only still exists today, but is actually getting stronger.

Offline is actually far more effective than people realize and people crave it, even though online (particularly email) is all the rage with marketers. I often find myself saying, “Wait a minute, I just want a short break from technology. I want something authentic.” And I’m not the only one who sometimes looks for a quiet space in our increasingly noisy world.

There’s a growing pushback to the world’s digital progression. Social psychologist Adam Atler’s book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” is one example in the list of many people who are pushing for a less technology-driven mindset. That’s where offline marketing comes in with power.

Not only is it a good way to connect with such people who want to be sometimes or wholly disconnected from online, but it provides a well-rounded (and hence complementary to online) connection with our customers. Besides, if your competitors are abandoning the traditional mailbox, they’re leaving you with a huge opportunity to dominate the channel that achieves the highest response rate.

But many companies don’t fully take advantage of channels like direct mail. There are four main “issues” marketers tend to think of when they think of offline channel marketing, though they’re really not problems at all.

Breaking the bias against offline marketing

Many people think offline has some “issues” that make it not worth using. Respectfully, I’d like to disagree. Here are the common arguments, unpacked.

  • “It’s costly” — this is the main reason people tend to think offline is a problem, they think it will be very costly. We need to prove why it’s finally good to use these channels, that even if it is more expensive, there is a high return on investment. Direct mail has the 3rd highest ROI (27 percent), behind email (122 percent), and social media (28 percent) according the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). The easiest way to prove that is by doing a test and reporting/analysis. Make something and send it just to your VIP customers, those loyal advocates. If it works well, target that campaign to other segments in your database. With a little study, you’ll see the return on investment is much higher when you integrate offline with your online marketing. Also, ROI remains strong when direct mail is delivered to a well targeted audience and when the content and context is personalized.
  • “It’s for old people” — don’t buy into the misconception that print only works for the older market. The DMA actually says all age groups are interested in receiving and responding to mail. In fact, those numbers for younger people are growing. The USPS Household Diary Survey found that response rates from 18 to 21 years olds doubled in 2016. Yes, older people (70+) are not big digital users, but just because younger people use digital doesn’t mean they don’t like offline. And in reality, many younger people are beginning to prefer it for some specific messages.
  • “It’s difficult to track” — let’s be honest, tracking is not as obvious/easy as for email. But tracking is possible and not actually too difficult when leveraging other channels through direct mail. For example, adding a PURL or a coupon in the direct mail. The top response rate tracking methods are PURLs (61 percent), call center/telephone (53 percent), and code or coupon (42 percent). Because of these, DMA says direct mail is one of the most measurable of all media, boosting the quality of analytics for any campaign. A marketer knows when mail is arriving and can use this knowledge to activate other touch points like email and call center. It’s direct mail that anchors the campaign and drives the support tactics that can boost the overall effectiveness of a cross-channel effort.
  • “Integration is too challenging” — Another supposed negative is the ambiguity around how to integrate online and offline channels together, in large part because many organizations are using different solutions to manage their online and offline channels . But this is a non-starter, because with platforms like Adobe Campaign you can manage everything through a single solution, so it doesn’t have to be an issue. Efficient campaign management tools, as such, are more proactive, cut down on time (as you spend less on manual tasks), decrease errors (since you have no more manual integration), and ultimately allow you to speak to your customer in a more personal, relevant way.

Opening your marketing heart to offline

As offline marketing generates a strong ROI, appeals to people of many generations, offers trackability, and opportunities for integration, it may be time to look at natural ways for your business to excel offline.

Check back in for my next article on the most effective modes of offline marketing.

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