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I like offline marketing; I also like online marketing. But which is best? There’s only one way to find out: FIGHT! Sarah Jones, Director of GameOn Marketing, is your referee.
There was a time when buying a new book meant negotiating a minefield of students camped out randomly across the floor of Wasterstones. Ah the joy of carefully stepping over their pasty limbs as they lay strewn about the store sucking on long-dead Ribena cartons and sticky-fingering reference books they had no intention of ever buying. Well not anymore… thanks online!
Similarly there was a time when attempting to play poker simultaneously on eight tables while making dinner dressed in flannel pyjamas would have been frowned upon (or heartily encouraged for all the wrong reasons depending upon the card room). Thankfully online has once again stepped in and saved our blushes.
So is there still room in this gloriously online world of ours for old-school offline thinking? Industries have been created, industries have been destroyed, and services have been entirely reinvented to cater for this modern trend, but when it comes to businesses attracting a new customer, who wins?
In the red corner, Jack Media London, a forward-thinking media agency unafraid to grab cyberspace by the Facebook and give it a damn good talking to (via social and mobile marketing, Pay-Per-Click advertising and sponsorship). In the blue corner, the Isle of Man Post Office (IOMPO) with its Integrated Mailing Solutions division offering secure mailing services from one-off mailings to full scale Direct Mailing campaigns.
“Offline customer acquisition is still hugely relevant in today’s online-obsessed society simply because you can’t take away from the look, touch and feel of a brand,” says IOMPO’s Commercial Manager, Lisa Duckworth. “Not dissimilar to online shopping, there will always be customers who want the ‘tangibility factor’ - to physically feel the merchandise before buying. Experience and expertise has proven that customers truly engage with a brand that sends them personalised post with offers within.”
As well as making a customer feel like a valued VIP with well-targeted DM campaigns, if the promotional merchandise is creative and engaging it can stay with a customer beyond the singular moment of ‘opening’, something that can’t necessarily be said of an email or online advert. However, can a message ever be better targeted than when the customers themselves have asked for that information with a simply click of the mouse?
“Pay-Per-Click is the most popular form of online marketing purely because of its effectiveness at producing sales and ROI,” says Jack Media London’s founder and Managing Director, Emmie Faust. “It works so well because ads are only shown when a user searches for a keyword you have specified you want to target, and the advertiser only pays when your advert is clicked at a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) that they have specified.
“Someone who is searching for a specific product is more likely to convert and will often be a higher value customer than someone that has just seen your ad and clicked on a banner because they might be curious. Because of this, clients are often happy to pay more to acquire through the former because they normally have a higher life-time value.”
SPAM SPAM SPAM
Apart from being gelatinous spiced ham from 1937, Spam has come to be one of the most hated intruders of the online age, but remains singularly easier to deal with than a front door stuffed with junk mail. So how does a modern offline campaign avoid that landfill-bound tag?
“It’s important to understand the customer and make sure that what is being sent out is relevant and of value to the player,” says Duckworth. “They will already have been profiled as being interested in the operator’s offering/brand and it is then down to the company - together with providers such as IOMPO - to come up with creative that is engaging and that is retained for a short period of time by the customer.”
Retention of material is a specific advantage for offline marketing, as Duckworth explains: “When you wish information to be retained with, for instance, a week-long promotion where different prizes can be won on different days of the week, offline is a better vehicle. DM enables an operator to be more creative when engaging with the customer, so send out a Valentine’s Day card campaign and it’s likely that the cards will be retained within the actual household, visible on a daily basis to the customer and their friends and family.”
Of course if you’re talking ‘friends and family’ you can’t ignore the phenomenon of social media, which hands the reins back to online. “As an agency we do understand that social media is an important part of the marketing mix,” says Jacks Media’s Faust. “Advertising via social media, and Facebook in particular, is becoming much more popular, and with demand outstripping supply we have seen CPCs raise nearly 30% over the last quarter. Its success is down to the sheer volume of targeting options Facebook has access to, and the easy self-service platform meaning that anyone can have a go.”
WE HAVE A WINNER(S)
So it appears that both flavours of marketing clearly have their place in today’s world of customer acquisition. Offline wins but then so does online, just for very different reasons. The skill is, as it always has been, understanding exactly who your customer is, what they want, where they are, and how to get to them most effectively. A very old set of criteria to be sure, but never more important than right now as businesses decide whether to tweet, poke, IM or spam their potential customers, or just pop a targeted letter and a sweet offer in the post. Truthfully – the best possible solution is to do both.