Ladies and Gentlemen, hello and welcome to the battle of the marketing channels.  After much scrutinising, deliberation and down right, in depth analysis, one will emerge as victorious and right for you and your business…

Okay, okay, enough of the hype, I feel out of my depth with the commentator speak.  But what I am more than happy to tell you about are the benefits of using each channel, the pros and cons and also how mixing it up and going for a combination of the two is a great way to maximise your reach and recognisability.

Let’s start with the difference between the two channels, just what exactly is classed as online marketing and where does offline marketing step in.

Offline marketing is anything physical you can handle or touch that represents your company and online is anything that is digital that represents your company.  Simple.

Within each channel you have lots of touch points which provide different and varied opportunities to reach the maximum amount of customers whilst giving different messages.

Some examples of offline communication include:

  • Catalogues

  • Brochures

  • Flyers

  • Exhibitions

  • Adverts (newspaper/magazine)

And some examples of online communication include:

  • Website

  • Email

  • Search (SEO)

  • PPC (pay per click)

  • Online advertising

So now we will move on to the pros and cons for each channel…

Let’s start with online, the technical opponent in this.  Online marketing is ideal for specifically targeting customers by demographic.  Thanks to analytics you have a whole wealth of information regarding traffic and behaviour at your fingertips (* a topic for another blog me thinks)  and it is this that enables you to be so specific.   And with online being very quick and easy to update you can react to changes or anomalies in traffic and behaviour and personalise your own content accordingly almost instantly.  Online has its clear benefits when it comes to the financial aspect too.  It is relatively low in cost to run with no physical print costs etc. and you generally need less staff to keep things running smoothly  24/7 making it an overall sound investment…but is it right for you?

Well, it has been argued in that past that online communication is less personal and then there is the maintenance side of things.  As I mentioned earlier, online is relatively low in cost to run with no physical print costs etc. but as I’m sure we have all encountered at some point, technology can be expensive and time consuming to keep up to date and in line with competitors and technology can break often leading to costly technical and IT support being required. Plus your content must be up to date, current, on the ball, relative and so on and so forth.  And of course there is always going to be the niggling security issue when it comes to online, even in this day and age…especially in this day and age!

Now seems like a good time to move onto offline and show what benefit it can have for your business.  Customer focus is King in offline and easily achieved, not only through being able to give personal customer service but through being able to collate essential information and display it directly in front of the customer through tailor made brochures and catalogues etc.  Giving the customer something they can physically touch and hold adds to your business’ authenticity and bolsters their trust in you.  Your reach is also guaranteed with offline marketing and the tangibility of it tends to yield a great response as opposed receiving email after email.

So what about the down side of the glossy competitor?  Well, there is the obvious cost implication of design, printing and postage which can be very time consuming and then there is the element of planning.  Offline marketing takes time to put together and therefore you are less able to react to seasons and trends as quickly as you could online.  And for the same reason, you sometimes see a slower reaction rate with offline.  You also don’t have the benefit of analytics with mailed communication as you simply can’t tell which pages the customers read and for how long and even if they read them at all! Plus you are relying on a mail provider to get your marketing material to the customer in the first place.

So we come to the moral of the story…be a multi-channel business! And in order to do this and do it successfully you must ensure that the branding, message, visual and information is consistent both offline and online.  The customer should be able to gain the same impression of and information about the company whichever channel they choose.

“Now, what’s in store next week”, I hear you cry.  I think I will go back to reference I made earlier to analytics and give you the nitty gritty on just exactly what you can learn from this marvellous tool…excited?  I am.

Online Marketing vs Offline Marketing

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