Using Online Marketing to Support Your Offline Strategy
So you bought a domain name and built yourself a shiny new website to showcase your business. It's got loads of info on it about how great you are, maybe even an online shop with all your products. But how do you tie this strange new world of ecommerce in with your traditional methods? How do you use 'online marketing' when you're not really sure what it is?
Tell people about your website
You probably have a mailing list of existing customers; every so often you print a few thousand leaflets or Christmas cards and send them out with reminders and special offers. For the same cost as this, you can tell these same people about your website. Print the web address and get word out; include incentives just like you normally would, a promotional code for example.
Measure the returns of your offline marketing
Got a brand new range of sportswear in your shop? Create a custom page telling all about it and print the URL on your flyer. If people are impressed with your mailing, they'll visit the page. Most importantly, you can track numbers by installing an analytics package on your website (like Google Analytics). Every time someone visits that particular page, you know they've come because of your leaflet.
Be sure that the page you make reflects your mailing; customer experience is key and by emphasizing the connection between what they get in the post and what they see on their screen, you'll make visitors comfortable with your brand.
Track visitor behavior
Utilise cookies to track what visitors to your website are doing (your analytics package will do this). Maybe they land on your special page but do not click through to anywhere else. Maybe they get halfway through the payment process and then give up. With this information you can identify problem areas and fix them. This is something your offline marketing alone could never tell you.
Build your online presence
Having a website and telling your customers about it may not be enough to make it profitable. Think about how many new people walk into your shop every day; do the same number visit your website? An online marketing strategy might be necessary to give you a presence on the internet, making sure you'll be found by potential customers. This involves gaining trust with the search engines so that you come up in the results, or advertising on other websites that your target market visits.
Pay per click campaigns and search engine optimization strategies can be managed yourself or by specialist online marketing companies. Pay per click is advertising on the search engines (or other websites) – paying to get onto the first page of results. Search engine optimization Identifies keywords you want to be found for and optimizes your website so that it looks high up in the natural search results. If someone searches for 'sportswear' and you come up, you've got yourself a new visitor.
This may all sound a little complicated, but just think how many people search for 'sportswear' every day. Hundreds? Thousand? These are all potential visitors to your site, so investing in your online presence really can pay off.
Gather visitor data and use it wisely
We've come full circle with our website marketing; having a sign-up box on your website to gather email addresses or other details that allows you to build up a mailing list. Just like sending out leaflets, you can send out emails (or more leaflets if you like) with special offers and promotional codes. Remind people about your website, and strengthen awareness of your brand.
If people have an account with you, track what they buy and target your marketing accordingly. Tailored promotions are far more effective; think about Amazon.com's 'recommendations' feature. Using offline methods in the online world can be the most effective way of ensuring repeat business, especially when you use all the extra information your online strategy gives you.