Performance marketing insights, discussions and expertise

#2012Marketing Challenge 3: Truly Integrating Online and Offline Media

By on October 20, 2011

At the Web 2.0 Summit, eBay CEO and president John Donahoe said “[The] boundary between online and offline is blurring. Consumers are embracing this, and retailers need help.”

With the evolution in advertising channels, media formats and consumer media consumption, the convergence between online and offline media is inevitable and according to many, long overdue. In a recent study, consumers were asked what prompted them to search online for a company, campaign, product, or service. The results were:

  •    Television advertisement: 44%
  •    Word of Mouth: 41%
  •    Magazine/Newspaper Advertisement: 35%
  •    Radio: 23%
  •    Billboard: 13%

Clearly, the buzz around the importance of integrating online and offline deserves its place in conversations. At the same time, though, integration isn’t easy. To achieve true integration of online and offline, we need to think beyond simply including URLs in TV and radio ads, or placing a QR code in your print ads.

So here at Impact Radius we’ve pooled our combined industry experience with direct feedback from clients to come up with some of the major challenges for online and offline integration in the coming year.

Integrating coupons and promotions – business as usual?
First up, the coupon. It’s an old marketing staple, making a rebirth in the digital age and it’s one of the easiest ways to integrate a campaign. Run an advertisement and then try to seal the deal at the check-out with a coupon. Couponing has become such a craze that it’s even gone Hollywood!

To date, 73 percent of all U.S. shoppers have used online printable Web coupons says Simmons Market Research. But digital couponers are a different crowd than the traditional clippers. They are 35% more likely to have a household income above $75k and also 17% more likely to have a college or advanced degree compared to the general population. (Source: 360i.com) Even more importantly, digital coupon use has revealed that more has changed than simply the demographics of the consumer.  The entire purchase path that has evolved, become longer, and more complex with each piece of media (online and offline) contributing to the customer acquisition process.

In the old days, the moment of truth for advertising was revealed through observation when the consumer stood in the aisle of the grocery store, looking at all the different brands. As 360i reminds us, Procter & Gamble called this the “first moment of truth”. It was the key moment in the purchase path – a three to seven second window when the sees and decides between Colgate and Crest. The purchase path, however, is now varied and complex. In some cases, consumers are coming to the store armed with purchase intent from social media, online searches, review sites, as well as your controlled marketing efforts. Google calls this the “Zero Moment of Truth”.

This is a challenge for marketers, especially when they are trying to integrate offline and online marketing campaigns and roll-out strategies. After all, the actual event that caused the consumer purchase may not have been your TV ad and digital coupon combo: it could have been five or six different media interactions with your campaigns across multiple channels. Of course, all this may have occurred without your guidance or even knowledge.

when-do-shoppers-make-their-purchase

You should know exactly what channels are influencing your customers’ purchase behavior before they arrive at your digital or physical store. Integration is much bigger than just joining up your marketing messages. Withis a new, long, complex and multi-channeled purchase path, ask yourself – what really brought your customers to your check-out?

Is your campaign lost in integration?
Just like Procter & Gamble’s “moment of truth”, a new critical point in the success or failure of marketing campaigns is appearing: will users actually make the transition from an offline marketing message to online destination without getting lost along the way?

It’s harder than it seems. In the old days, we’d simply slap a company homepage URL on the offline ad but today, where do you send users? Your Facebook page or dedicated URL? To a Facebook contest or sweepstakes? A micro-site perhaps?  More importantly, will they remember to go where you’ve told them to go? This is a serious challenge. To illustrate how costly it is, consider Kokanee, a national Canadian beer brand currently running a national TV campaign to get the consumers to vote for their next spokesperson.

I saw the commercials on a recent trip up north, so I thought I would check out how exactly they have integrated their offline TV ad with the desired online “conversion” (vote and engaging with their brand).

Here are the steps it took me to transition from seeing their offline TV commercial to their campaign online.

Attempt 1:
I started (of course) by searching their Facebook page. Nothing there. Just a status update about how I should be drinking Kokanee beer. (Turns out this wasn’t even their official fan page.)

Attempt 2:
Next I tried a Google search. I typed in the name of the TV campaign: “Vote for the next ranger”. Again, nothing there, only marketing articles about Kokanee’s old TV campaign from three years ago with a similar name, and their Wikipedia entry.

Attempt 3:
Now, I’m puzzled. Is the campaign over? I perform some more longtail searches including, “Kokanee vote for the next ranger” and “Kokanee vote for the ranger”. Still nothing.

Attempt 4:
I do some more Google searches. Guess what? The campaign is actually called “Kokanee’s NEXT Ranger” and it is a Facebook web app. The URL that I needed was http://nextranger.ca or http://apps.facebook.com/kokanee_nextranger/.

(In hindsight, I should have used Google’s other search tool, YouTube.)

Now I wonder how many of their customers were lost, even frustrated, in that transition from offline to online. I’ll bet a loonie I wasn’t the only one! The challenge for 2012 isn’t simply joining offline and online — it’s understanding the whole picture of how our target consumer is moving, switching, and getting lost between the different channels, messages, and locations.

Here at Impact Radius, we call this the customer journey and we’ve designed our attribution reporting technology specifically to help brands, advertisers and digital marketers better understand how different media touch points influence the online conversion.

customer_journey

How many of your customers were lost in integration? Where did they end up? How did they finally arrive at your desired online location?

Location marketing beyond check-ins
Integrating location-based marketing isn’t so much a challenge as it is an opportunity. We have yet to see a truly powerful, creative use of location-based apps. And this technology can do so much more than just offer a purchase-prompt or act like a digital rewards card.

The challenge for 2012 isn’t integrating location-based marketing into the media mix. Instead, we need to bring together data silos, offering customers more relevant and contextual offers based on data we collect from other channels, other marketing events, and past purchase behavior.

Consumers are still waiting for a really innovative, contextual-based, location campaign; one that combines the power of consumer data sources and channels into a really creative, powerfully relevant contextual interaction between consumer, brand, and physical location. Shop Alerts by AT&T for example does just that. The mobile app allows small businesses to deliver coupon offers and deals to users within a specified geo-location.

shop_alerts_att

However, integrating data between different channels and tactics isn’t without its technical problems. For example, apps don’t use cookies like traditional browsers and the data gathered in your social media campaigns might not be shared with 3rd party location services such as Foursquare or Gowalla.com and vice versa.

More than that, we need more data than that gathered at the point of purchase. We need to have an understanding of the consumer before they interact with a location-based app. The result will be more than a loyalty program but rather a campaign that can augment the physical world to complement your digital behavior, preferences, and interests.

Offline and Online Integration Solutions Coming Soon
Those are the challenges we at Impact Radius are monitoring as it pertains to online and offline integration. Subscribe to our RSS feed and stay tuned for our solutions report designed to help you better integrate your marketing efforts, and other digital marketing challenges predicted for 2012.

In the meantime if you’d like to learn more about how Impact Radius can help you accurately integrate and track your offline and online marketing, or if you just want some free advice, message us on Twitter or drop us a note at contactus@impactradius.com.

Got a challenge we missed? Tweet it out with the hashtag #2012marketing.

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