While offline marketing for e-commerce might seem counterintuitive, when done correctly it can be a successful method to promote your online business to new audiences.
Back in 2010, offline channels influenced as much as 40 percent of online searches. Today’s technology has changed the way we make buying decisions, but people still use multiple channels (online and offline) when gathering information about a product. And, according to a statistic from 2016, 69 percent of adults trust newspapers, and more than half of them are more likely to buy a new product if they read about it in the local paper or a magazine.
Since most online retailers are used to doing everything online, offline marketing might seem a little uncomfortable at first. However, with the potential to reach a new, more targeted and engaged audience, the benefits of offline marketing may just outweigh your hesitations.
Offline marketing for e-commerce goes beyond print advertising
Integrating online-to-offline strategies in your marketing approach can help your e-commerce business thrive. By using offline marketing methods to capture attention, you can help grow your audience beyond what you’ve built online and consistently guide new, targeted traffic into your sales funnel.
Here are some of the offline marketing strategies you might consider trying:
- Speaking engagements
- Direct mail advertising
- Package inserts
Let’s dig into how each of these O2O strategies can help your e-commerce business grow!
Speaking engagements boost your credibility
In a crowded market like e-commerce, it’s important to position yourself as an authority in your niche and make yourself known. Speaking at conferences and industry events is a great way for you to do that. You’ll position yourself as an authority on the topics you speak about, build a reputation for yourself as a public speaker, and increase awareness of your brand. Even if your speeches don’t promote your brand directly, you can help attendees understand what your business is about in other ways, like by offering gift bags with business cards, flyers, or branded swag.
Here are some more advantages of booking speaking engagements:
- Generate networking opportunities that can help you build partnerships for future marketing campaigns.
- Put you and your business in front of a targeted audience with a real interest in your niche.
- Generate engagement. You’re more likely to obtain a reaction from an audience that has come to see you than by cold calling or using newspaper ads.
So when the opportunity to speak comes up, take it!
Direct mail gets excellent conversion rates
Direct mail has a better response rate than email marketing and is more likely to generate conversions than outdoor media like billboards, posters, and other signage (which are better for long-term brand awareness). With direct mail, consumers receive your message when they’re at home—where they’re comfortable, in control, and have quick access to the internet.
If your message is convincing enough, a simple web search or a visit to the address you include on your direct mail will bring prospects right to your e-commerce website to shop.
Package inserts improve the customer experience
Being the first element buyers see when interacting with your products, packaging has a crucial influence on retail e-commerce. Besides the primary function of protecting your products during transportation, with a little extra design effort, your packaging can serve to improve customer experience.
How? Well, 60 percent of buyers are more likely to share a product image on social media if you substitute traditional brown packaging with a more colorful, gift-like box. And going beyond packaging to add fun elements to the inside of your packages as well—like package inserts offering a discount, free shipping, or a free gift—could take your customer experience even further.
Package inserts help you give your customers that little something extra that helps generate brand loyalty and engagement. Better yet, package inserts can actually save you money. There are plenty of brands willing to pay for ad space inside outgoing e-commerce packages, and you can connect with them by joining a package insert marketplace.
Catalogs are surprisingly popular with younger consumers
Though expensive to produce, publishing a high-quality catalog will pay off when it comes to creating brand awareness and consolidating your position in the market. Catalogs create a unique offline customer experience. They are highly visual and have a more lasting effect than emails, which are quickly deleted and forgotten. And surprisingly, according to a recent study, millennials might be the biggest supporters of catalogs.
A catalog with outstanding visuals lets you present your products in a perfectly curated way, making it easy to capture the attention of your target audience. Because many people hold onto catalogs for at least a week or two before discarding them, catalogs are a great way to keep your brand top-of-mind and create long-term customer relationships.
Famous brands like Victoria’s Secret and Ikea have turned their catalogs into key elements of their marketing, creating expectations and even building entire campaigns around these publications. Catalogs are the perfect example of an online-to-offline strategy that both adds value for your audience and benefits your brand.
Sponsoring causes and events helps you reach new people
Sponsoring causes and events is a smart way to show your target customers you share their values and care about the community. Brands that create emotional connections with their customers are more likely to see increased loyalty and revenue from high retention rates. With just a small sponsorship fee as your investment, you’ll place your brand in front of a broad new audience and improve the way customers and prospects perceive your brand.
So when a nonprofit or group approaches you about becoming a sponsor, remember that your investment can pay off in multiple ways:
- Having your logo printed on shirts and swag or published in a program earns you brand visibility
- Supporting a cause that matches your mission feels good and impresses employees and investors alike
- Showing customers you care about important issues improves their perception of you
- Engaging with hashtags before, during, and after events helps you earn social media followers and engagement
As you choose events and causes to sponsor, make sure your choices are in line with your company values so you keep an authentic voice. Otherwise you risk losing your credibility and your existing customers.
Digital marketing isn’t the only way
Offline marketing for e-commerce is an excellent way to round out your advertising strategy. Getting your name out there through speaking engagements, sponsoring community events, and producing high-quality catalogs can capture attention people who are outside your usual digital realm. Capitalize on your new, engaged audiences by carefully tracking where each and every lead comes from. That way, you’ll know which O2O marketing strategies to repeat, and which to ditch.