Merging the offline and online worlds – developing your brand

It goes without saying that a huge proportion of daily socialisation and interaction takes place online from behind a screen, and more often than not, on the move.

Digital offers a quicker, more efficient and direct shortcut for communication and interaction – a less arduous technological equivalent for personal connection. Social networking has become the connection of choice, facilitating a communication style suited to the overworked, over-scheduled lifestyle of the modern day citizen whose needs include the ability to communicate when they wish and disengage at will.

In many ways, digital technologies have become extensions of the human form; tools that operate alongside us, aiding and enhancing the human capabilities of the mind and body.

Mobile devices continue to offer flexibility, triggering a radical change in our actions depending on where we are, how we move and what we are doing. Digital innovation plays a significant role in every aspect of our daily lives, continually shaping and changing the landscape of our interactions and behaviours – revolutionising the way we eat, the way we explore, the way we shop, the way we unwind.

So, as the off and online worlds continue to collide and overlap, what does this mean for your brand?

Never underestimate the power of disruption

In a world driven by high profits, new technologies and sky-high consumer demand, disruption is key. Indeed, some of the most successful brands that we interact with on a daily basis had to disrupt their initial offering to successfully break through. Uber, for example, started life as a fledging idea for a limo service that could be ordered via an app. Airbnb originated as an air mattress rental service with breakfast served the next morning. Similarly, early on, Amazon’s Ecommerce offering extended only to books. In order to enrich their customers’ experience, amplify relevancy to their audiences and spark further engagement, each of these brands had to break the mould by introducing disruptive thinking and technologies to bring something entirely new to the table.

It’s time to merge offline and online 

If you haven’t already, it’s more important than ever before to consider utilising an effective, integrated combination of online and offline marketing channels to promote and grow your company. Customer journeys are becoming increasingly complex; we have an unbounded access to data, resources, devices and mediums which on the one hand create opportunity, but also pose a challenge.

It’s estimated that in order to capture audiences and stay apace with today’s competitive world of business, over 95% of marketers feel the need to incorporate online and offline marketing strategies. Your brand, products and services need just as strong a presence on shelf as they do on screen.

There are several ways in which you can combine your online marketing activity with your offline engagement to develop your brand and improve your customers’ experience:

1) Use social to inspire offline participation.
Newly released features across Facebook and Instagram now include collaborative stories (enabling you to showcase your company from multiple different perspectives), the ability to tag events, follow specific hashtags and allow third-party access to scheduling. All these fantastic updates will allow you to really harness and take ownership of your social activity, emphasise the experience and culture of your brand, and ultimately encourage people to visit you in store and identify with your offline world.

2) Expand and magnify your reach offline.
It’s the little details that count. Make the effort to ensure your brand identity lives and breathes offline, and make it simple for your offline prospects to find you online. What touch points do you have to enhance the overall experience of your brand? It might be including personal messages on packaging/brochures/mail-outs to really surprise and delight your customer. It could be as simple as ensuring that the products featured on your website are also prominently displayed in store. Your customer journey should be consistent and come full circle.

3) Time to get personal.
According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognises them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, OR knows their purchase history. Directly addressing your customers at the right touchpoints, tailoring promotions in accordance with their individual online activity, and including relevant, personalised messages can go a long way to help showcase your understanding of your audience, make them feel more appreciated, and in turn lead to more engagement and purchases.

4) Make the most of user-generated content.
Create unique opportunities to spark further engagement with your customers. Encourage audience participation through submissions with incentivised promotions, competitions and giveaways – really utilise their content in creative and inspiring ways to create a buzz and bridge your offline and online channels.

5) Monitor and track your online and offline campaigns.
Use insights and analytics gained through social media to measure and improve the quality and impact of your marketing efforts. Opportunities to do so include printing campaign specific hashtags and URLs on leaflets and brochures, asking customers to ‘check in’ to your store on Facebook when they visit, as well as utilising lead capture tools for events and in store.

Merging offline and online worlds done well – some brilliant examples:

  • Asos’ Style Match tool allows customers to take photos of any outfit they come across in the offline world, and find equivalent close matches online. Available to all 16 million active customers on both iOS and Android as of March 2018
  • #AsSeenOnMe encourages offline customer participation by featuring their creative content online, via their social pages and website
  • deVOL’s showroom map is a lovely, simple demonstration of how a little creativity and innovation can spark customer engagement both offline and online; simultaneously guiding and encouraging customers to navigate between and visit their London showrooms, whilst promoting the in-house creative journey and retaining their brand identity via their blog and social posts
  • IKEA Place is a nifty app allowing customers to virtually arrange IKEA products in their homes before committing to buying – simplifying the customer journey and layering the online and offline shopping experience in an innovative and incredibly useful way

Do you need support merging your offline and online worlds? Contact our team of branding and marketing experts today on 01244 605 617.

Written by Oli Yeates


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