Businesses use marketing, online and offline, to tell stories about their brands.
Content marketing strategy today mostly includes online, but you shouldn't forget about offline channels.
The percentage of businesses convinced that content marketing delivers a return on investment (ROI) they can measure stands at 53% according to Smart Insights. 43% of businesses also see opportunities from their content marketing efforts, albeit they are not able to measure the ROI yet.
Regardless of your online and offline marketing strategies, marketing intends to get more customers.
Offline, you want more people to come through the door.
Online the intention is to get more traffic and be able to convert it into sales.
And now you have an abundance of opportunities to use content marketing to get people to take you up on your offer both on and off the internet.
Instead of putting one form of marketing on a pedestal, it is time you realize how useful it would be to embraced both.
For both online and offline marketing have pros and cons. And having the right knowledge is going to serve your business well in the future.
Just like the metaphorical stone, you can use to strike two birds at a go.
After all, the top three goals with your marketing, whether online or offline, including increasing brand awareness and thought leadership or educating the market and most importantly lead generation.
The percentages for these three stand at 40, 43 and 59 percent respectively. This is according to LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community.
This post presents a comparison of online and offline marketing. The aim is so that you can grow your expertise in both.
To not rush to the internet to do your marketing when you are surrounded, offline, with boundless opportunities to use different content marketing strategy to grow your leads, customer base, sales, revenue, and profits.
Or to stick to offline marketing like you have been doing for a long time, but instead to get out of your comfort zone and try your hand at online marketing too.
Realize that only 42% of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing. That is your cue to jump in now and explore the opportunities both worlds present.
But first, spend the time to become well-grounded on what works. Build a strong marketing foundation, for you don't want to be like the 65% of B2B marketers who struggle to define what content is effective and what isn't.
Learn so you can have a content marketing strategy in place that increases your chance of success. Just like 72% of marketers do.
Note that 30% have a documented content marketing strategy while 42% have a non-documented strategy.
Producing engaging content is a challenge for many B2B marketers. Over 60% of them struggle in this area. That is where having a strong foundation comes in handy. It ensures you get into marketing with a seriousness that will result in you having more successful campaigns throughout the year.
Why Do You Need Content Marketing?
DemandMetric says you need it to generate leads, keep the attention of readers, increase direct sales and improve brand loyalty.
Always remember why you are doing what you are doing.
Remember these core reasons for doing marketing. Having strong enough reasons will help you stay focused on your goals.
The Story of Marcus Sheridan
This is a guy, a family man, who used inbound marketing – producing lots of blog posts on his swimming pool site to save his offline business.
In this interview, Marcus shares some great tips that can guide your marketing if you already own an offline business but also want to explore online marketing and the new possibilities it can create for your existing business.
He was in trouble. His swimming pool business was almost going out of business. He was going to lose his home. So, he had no choice but start blogging – and use content marketing strategy to teach potential clients about what it is his company did.
This was back in 2009.
The results he expected from his content eventually came, within months.
He was publishing 3 to 4 posts per week.
HubSpot says that B2C companies that blog 11+ times per month get 4X more leads as compared to those that blog 4 to 5 times per month. And B2B companies blogging 11+ times per month get 1.75X more leads compared to those blogging just 6 to 10 times per month.
Marcus did all this to save his business. This is someone who was doing offline marketing but also later on decided to double down on online marketing to grow his business.
He addressed problems potential clients were facing and was rewarded with more website traffic and paying customers, but this is only after he had put in a lot of work on his marketing.
The same kind of hard work expected of you.
Doing three to four posts a week in the first year – that is what he advises for businesses that want to get traction from blogging.
He says that you should create content that makes sense to the people reading it. His definition of great content is content that someone can understand; content that makes sense to them.
He says you should commit to networking online and offline. He commented on lots of blogs. He also shared other people's content. Helped people he respected, mentioned others in his content, and supported dozens of people he respects.
And to succeed at content marketing you better be in it for the long haul, explore your passions and how you can use them in your marketing. If you are serious about getting real results from your efforts, you are also going to have to put in the time.
He also says that you should understand your true value to the customers you serve, so you don't end up undercharging for your products and services.
If you are like the 6 out of 10 businesses yet to establish an online presence, I hope Sheridan's story inspires you to start a site for your business.
Difference Between Online and Offline Content Marketing
1. The Way Content Is Presented to the Audience
The first difference between the two is how content is published and distributed.
Offline it is often done in-person, print, door-to-door, television or on the radio.
Online, marketing lives on
- ad networks and affiliate networks,
- social media platforms,
- online forums, and
- messaging apps
where video, text, graphics and other types of content are shared.
Offline, due to the mediums used, there is often a limit to how big or long content can be due to costs and space issues.
Online some of these limitations are not that restrictive. That is why most businesses use online marketing to complement their offline marketing efforts.
2. The Number of People You Can Reach
Online you can use social media to reach a larger audience compared to say the number of people attending your conference, convention, meetup or seminar offline, and at costs that are not too prohibitive.
You can write an email and boom with one click send it to your email subscribers.
Or write a guest post that brings you traffic, subscribers and backlinks from more authoritative websites – links that eventually boost your rankings on search engines.
Marketers are however increasingly using the content they create offline (such as images, documentaries, and videos of meetups & conferences or videos documenting some of their processes) to reach an even wider audience online.
Darren Rowse of Problogger does it with his conferences. This gives his audience unable to attend his conferences to access the material online.
They don't get to meet the other ProBlogger readers in person since they are not attending the event, but they can get the material and hear the keynote speaker among others share content that helps them grow better blogs.
3. People's Readiness to Share Content
Offline, word of mouth plays a big role in how content is shared. Online, most platforms always have sharing buttons to almost every piece published on their site. Sharing content usually just involves a few clicks.
Links also play a vital role in which content gets ranked where on search engines. So, mentions, whether on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Medium, Reddit, news sites or Facebook carry a lot of weight – and have in a lot of occasions played a huge role in how many times a piece of content gets seen.
Online word of mouth matters too. And it is a big deal because people often share the content on their own accounts on the various platforms they use then still go and spread the word about the same piece of content offline to their family, friends, and colleagues.
4. Content Virality
Online, social media increases the chances of content going viral compared to offline.
Offline, the mediums that you can use to reach a lot of people usually cost a lot of money upfront. Short video ads or even advertiser's feature on most TV or radio stations cost a lot of money upfront.
And then there are just so many people you can reach depending on the time of day your content is aired. Most audiences of the TV and radio stations won't be tuning in all at the same time the exact moment your content is airing.
Online, most platforms have options to schedule ads. Most platforms, Facebook and Instagram for example, now have features that ensure your ads (content) are optimized to display at the most optimal time.
Real-time optimization is a feature most offline marketers don't get to see in the majority of the offline platforms/mediums they use to reach and engage their target audience.
So, the likelihood of your content going viral online is higher. The scale of virality online far surpasses what the offline world has to offer.
This is because most platforms, especially if you are paying for reach optimize your content for maximum views and shares.
Offline it can be easier because you are always looking at a small number of people. Dealing with such numbers makes it a lot easier to narrow down to the people you want to see your content and take the desired action.
Online, with all the possibilities platforms, have built into their websites and mobile apps, it can be tricky. There is just a lot to consider. Too many metrics and options to consider.
That is why many people struggle with their first few ads on Facebook and Google Ads, and mostly don't see any conversions worth writing about.
Most online marketers usually go through a learning curve before they can be able to create ads/content optimized for maximum profitability. A lot of them lose money in the first few ads they set up, but then get better at creating ads that make them money, instead of losing them money.
Another example is how doing email marketing and segmenting people who land on your web-pages can be tricky compared to just doing phone calls using a list of names of pre-selected people – say small businesses in your local area to whom you want to sell your services.
6. How Much Content You Create
Offline one presentation can be enough. You get people to gather around and show it to them, using your persuasion skills to sell them on your service, message, ideas or products.
With one piece of content at one sitting, you can convince people you are presenting to strongly consider the offer you are putting in front of them.
Online marketing requires continuity and consistency. It is highly unlikely that you'll do the ‘trick' with just one piece of content.
That is why bloggers publish content regularly.
That is the reasons affiliate, and email marketers send series of emails to their newsletter subscribers.
Even in newspapers most businesses and individuals don't share their content (ads) on them as often as they do online. Yes, cost and space play a big role here too.
But this just goes to show the difference in how much content is needed for successful campaigns online and offline.
7. Ease of Creating a Presentation, Putting Content out There & Getting Heard
Online you can create an ad on Facebook and have it reviewed and running in minutes. Just like that, you can start sending targeted traffic to a blog post or a dedicated landing page on your site used to generate leads.
Compare that to what goes towards creating and running ads on a billboard, TV, radio or your town's newspaper.
Or how easy it is to write and publish a blog post compared to writing a presentation you have to give in front of an audience in a gathering.
Or how fast you can start a brand new podcast on iTunes/SoundCloud/Stitcher versus creating and airing a show on radio.
All these mediums are effective yes. They have their place. But it seems like getting things up and running online takes less time compared to doing the same offline.
Of course, the ease and speed of doing things don't necessarily guarantee the results one is after. Again editing and optimizing ads and other types of content pieces online is easier compared to doing the same offline.
Online there is also ease of access to available info. You just type a site's URL to find information about them or whatever it is they are selling and for how much.
Offline, you have to go to a store, wait for tomorrow's paper or wait till that signpost/poster or banner ad is created and placed where people can see it.
Offline organizing events/conferences or getting a booth at a business fair requires logistics – preparation, planning and initial investment in both time and money that could run into thousands of dollars.
But when the content you create, resonates with a lot of people (perhaps the piece shares something that gets their attention because it has a sense of belonging tied into it), word of mouth can propel it to new heights.
People can even start sharing it online. So, you reap the rewards of having your content being shared both offline and online.
This happens a lot with memes and even some of the ads being aired on TV that just stick in people's head and compels them to share. Such as ads with light humor or the ones that just inspire and motivate.
Offline, companies can only be able to reach people locally or nationally due to the limited distribution offline mediums offer. Online marketing opens doors to reaching and serving international clients as well.
The internet provides boundless possibilities to share content or expand one's business. That is why a lot of businesses use online marketing to complement the marketing campaigns they already have running offline.
They use both to win at content marketing. Relying on remarketing/retargeting as well by showing targeted content to users who have already shown interest in a particular product they sell.
9. Money Spent: Paid Advertising Expenses
Content marketing online costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads according to DemandMetric.
And there are some platforms on the web where you are not charged to promote content/run ads immediately. Payments can be deferred by one week, two weeks or even a month.
Offline, the money needed to create and promote content is usually required upfront.
In both cases, you pay to play, but online you can defer paying for a week to thirty days. Online you can start measuring the effectiveness of the content you use in your marketing right at the moment you publish it.
With offline marketing, sometimes you have to wait for hours or days to measure the performance of your content pieces. So, online you can reiterate quickly. Offline you'll need a lot of prior planning to minimize the need of having to make changes to your ads/content once they start running.
If you wanted to know about offline marketing vs. online marketing, now you know. Let's look at what these two share in common.
Similarities Between Online and Offline Marketing and What Both Types of Marketing Require of You
1. Share Useful Content
Create better educational resources. Teach. Inspire. Create value for others through your content.
Create content that is memorable. Content that is focused on few calls to action. Content that is engaging.
Your target audience will thank you for being thoughtful, creative, unique and for not wasting their time.
2. Let Your Personality Shine Through Your Content
In the stories, you share online or when you meet for coffee or tea offline, let your personality shine.
Show enthusiasm for what you are sharing.
Shift your attention to figuring out what your audience needs so you can help them in the best way you can, given the resources at hand.
Inspire confidence through your expertise. Teach and use your content to earn trust.
Build on the initial contact with new updates to increase brand awareness and inspire loyalty.
And show that you are the right solution/person to come to for the particular need they have. If you are not, strive to be or refer them elsewhere to someone more capable.
3. Make the Right Connections
Of the people you reach out to and spread your content to, connect with the target group that gets you the most qualified leads. Don't just go after large numbers of people.
The online world with its seemingly endless possibilities may tempt you to go this route. Resist the temptation of just going after big crowds when you are marketing online or offline. Just go after the right people.
Research who you want to engage, then go seek them out. Find the right people where they already are online and offline even if that means going after smaller and more niche networks. Or a smaller segment of the market.
Research and analyze before you create and start promoting your content to the specific and defined group of people that align with your marketing goals.
4. Understanding the Differences and Similarities Between the Two and How They Complement Each Other
Instead of focusing on one type of marketing focus on getting good at both. Then take advantage of what both offer.
Realize for example how online reviews affect small businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, local cafes, and salons. Big sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook now encourage their users to leave reviews of products, brands, service providers and various establishments operating offline and offline.
According to Invesp, the number of consumers who read online reviews before visiting a business stands at 90%.
These reviews are trusted as much as personal recommendations by 88% of consumers. 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more and are likely to spend 31% more on business with ‘excellent' reviews. 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review. And 92% of them will use local businesses with at least a 4-star rating.
So your reliability, expertise, and professionalism should not only show in your marketing but also in the experience you offer customers.
Someone can go to a local store then opt to write a review on Yelp. Later down the road, someone else looking to shop from a similar store may just go to Yelp (or Facebook) to learn about the experience of people who have visited your store before.
Negative reviews and ratings are likely to lose you sales to competitors in your locality or some online retailer selling similar products or offering the same service.
Make sure you know how to deal with negative reviews. Read Top 19 Social Media Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid for more information.
So, you have to be careful and realize how the experience you offer and marketing you do offline affect your efforts online and vice versa. Because according to Invesp 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.
If you think this is not a big deal, Invesp found that the percentage of Yelp users that visit Yelp because they intend to make a purchase stands at 80%.
For product reviews, more than 42% consumers believe YouTube is the most trustworthy source for such reviews. This is according to AdWeek.
The same thing applies to FBA sellers on Amazon among other popular sites such as eBay.
5. Understand Mobile Consumer Behavior
150 times, that is how often people look at their phones on a given day according to KPCB.
According to Facebook IQ, 73% of people say their mobile is always with them. And mobile commerce sales are expected to hit $149 billion by 2019 according to the same report. It also states that 45% of all shopping journeys contain an action on mobile.
So let your offline marketing efforts feed your online marketing efforts and vice versa.
Use SMS shortcodes and QR codes in your offline marketing materials. Online, share your physical location and even postal address.
What Else to Consider When Planning Content Marketing Strategy Online and Offline
Know the outcomes you expect before you dip your toes in the water. Then come up with clear online and offline content marketing strategy to help you achieve your goals or test the effectiveness of what you are already doing.
Get ideas from your interactions offline to use online and vice versa. Let each type of marketing feed each other. Use the feedback you get as well to grow your list of ideas for future content.
Repurpose content. Create once on one platform then just repurpose your content pieces for other platforms you use.
You can market the same piece of content you create for your blog on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest among other advertising platforms.
Why prioritize these? Because blogging and social media are reportedly the two most successful marketing tactics for marketers and blogging is the number one most important content marketing strategy for 45% of them.
Use your ad dollars to boost the organic results you are already getting.
Get your existing customer base to help you with your content promotion. Encourage word of mouth. Online, encourage shares, and recommendations. If you want, start a loyalty scheme or affiliate program.
Just provide products/services of great quality. And great customer care too. Be responsive in a way that makes your customers transactions with you pleasant.
Also offer coupons, bonuses and unexpected gifts especially during holidays.
PRRI-US, in their annual coupon study, says that 56% of participants reported visiting a brick-and-mortar store after receiving a deal or offer on their mobile device when they were near the store.
Be a trusted advisor to your customers, even the people who consume your content but don't buy.
No matter which type of marketing you work with. Sending and replying to emails, making calls, using live chat, sending texts, make all these part of your marketing. In 2018 roughly 54% of the world’s population will be using email, reports Lifewire. That is about 3.7+ billion people.
Use services like LeadDigits (by Leadpages) to build your email list offline.
Most marketers know how valuable email subscribers can be compared to people just landing on their blog, but never subscribing even if they are regular readers. Email has an ROI of 122% according to MediaPost, which is four times higher than social media, paid search, and direct mail.
Have a dedicated content team if you can afford it. So that you use one voice when promoting your brand.
Conduct audience/market research. Set smart goals. Goals that are smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Ensure you also document your content marketing strategy and processes for this will help you create the right kind of content for your audience.
Create and share infographics. They are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content.
Get better at tracking how your content performs. Only 8% of B2B marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking content marketing ROI. Be part of that group.
Avoid a misstep online for they can result in much more drastic consequences compared to a similar misstep happening offline.
Also, avoid ad overload. In 1984, an individual saw 2000 ads a day on average. By 2014, that number had risen to 5,000 a day.
And now 615+ million devices use Adblock according to PageFair.
That is how consumers have reacted to being bombarded with ads on a daily basis.
This is one more reason to strive to create quality, useful and engaging content no matter where you are doing your marketing. As you create more content pieces and act on the feedback you receive, your marketing campaigns, offline and online, will only get better.
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