Combining Offline & Online Content Marketing: How to Ace It Like a Boss

Feature image credits: Pixabay

When today’s marketers think of content, their minds automatically moves towards blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. Essentially, they focus only on online content forms, believing them to be the sole route to success.

It’s true that digital readership is preferred in the West. Close to half the population of the world is on social media, and 64% of this population actively uses social media and digital content to make purchase decisions.

Yet, a vast majority of the developing and underdeveloped countries, who are active consumers for global brands, prefer offline content forms like print, television and radio. Additionally, many active content consumers in the West too tap into offline forms regularly for their content needs.

According to research by the World Press Trends Database, print newspaper circulation grew by 21% over a span of five years till 2017-2018. In the United States alone, circulation of print newspapers reaches upwards of 30 million annually, with only 12 million visitors to news websites.

With so many takers for both forms of content, it is extremely important for marketers to focus on both online and offline content marketing. Luckily, we have many content creation companies who specialise in both social media marketing and offline content writing.

Image credits: Pixabay

The difference between offline and online content

Let’s do an activity. Find a news article on the first page of your print newspaper. Next, search for the same article online (preferably by the same publisher). Now, read them both. You’ll notice these differences:

  • Different writing formats

The print version is longer and more detail-oriented, using only words and a supporting image. The digital version is shorter and may contain more images or a video/podcast link to the news break. There may even be an infographic here.

  • Focus

The print article may have explored solely one very specific aspect of the topic, while the digital version is more likely to have had a very generic approach to the topic with hyperlinks to more focused areas.

  • Word count

Print articles are usually much longer than digital articles and are facts-heavy. For every print article that is 500 words long, you’re very likely to find a 200-300 word online version. (Of course, this isn’t always the case. But for the most part, it is).

The online world is characterised by dynamically available content, shorter read times and more variety to related content. The traditional offline world leans towards a slower and more detailed approach to content, with focus on providing comprehensive information, irrespective of the read time.

It is these insights that marketers need to make use of, to determine:

  • The type of content to be used in each platform – images vs text vs audio
  • The length of the content – long-form vs short-form
  • The focus of the content – specific vs generic

Image credits: Pixabay

Considering the above factors, we now find two cardinal rules for working with both online and offline content:

  • Never replicate

Do not repeat the same information, format or content types used in both. Use one form as the base and build on the information provided in the other. If you’ve used images in the offline version, use a podcast or a video montage online.

Remember, the audience wants ‘variety’.

  • Use one content form as a hook for the other

Attract audience attention using one content form by making it reader-specific and get them to switch to the other content form for more information.

How do you do this? Keep reading.

Seven ways to use online and offline content together

  • Use CTAs to highlight the offers cross-platform

CTAs are very powerful pieces of content that you can use in both online and offline forms. Let’s say you have published an ad in the newspaper. You can add a creative CTA containing the link to your website.

When people use the link to visit your website, make sure to include a description or another CTA that follows the same message that you’ve shared offline. The CTA is a very effective way to reinforce the business’ core message.

  • Post a teaser

The tags of ‘To be continued…’ and ‘Continue reading…’ are excellent ways to hook and reel in audiences. Say you have a website selling cosmetics and you also run a monthly fashion physical newsletter. You can use one of the blogs on your website to increase subscriptions to your magazine.

When writing the blog, provide 2-3 usable and helpful pointers. At the bottom, add a ‘To be continued…’ or ‘Continue reading…’ tag and provide a link to the newsletter subscription page. If your content is really gripping, rest assured, people will subscribe to your newsletter. Now you can use this newsletter to promote your other products/services.

Image credits: Pixabay

  • Publish reader submissions in physical content forms

Reader’s Digest is one of the most-loved publishers in the world. They are a group that accept submissions from their readers. By accepting entries online and printing them in their online and print magazines, they increase the subscription rate dramatically, while also marketing their product catalogues.

If you specialise in a business that could make use of customer-generated content, invite the audience to share content with you in the form of a contest online or offline. You could even engage them on social media. Use this content in the form of client testimonials, referrals and engagement both offline and online.

  • Print your digital QR code on your offline publication

If you’ve scheduled an advertisement in the newspaper for your product, add a custom QR code in the print ad, which can direct smartphone users to your website.

QR codes are most effective when you are running a sale or discount online. Ideally, the code should take your audience to the page where the marketing content is, be it in the form of a landing page or a wonderful description of the product on sale.

QR codes are also great to give discounts for your eBooks and whitepapers, especially in the B2B sector. If these eBooks and whitepapers contain links to your blog site, even better.

  • Send sales letters or reminder notes to encourage website visit

National Geographic does a wonderful job in reminding subscribers to renew their subscription to their monthly magazines. The brand sends reminder letters outlining the benefits of subscribing to the magazine. They also add links to the actual subscription page on their website. These links are sometimes localised to their trading partner’s website where the brand also markets their partner’s products.

They supplement this offline effort by sending regular emailers about the magazine, the theme of the upcoming publications and offers provided by the institution.

  • Encourage audiences to post selfies to win gifts

F&B conglomerate Birds Eye are experts at this unique strategy. They allow customers to pay their bills and gain gift certificates to discounted dinners by uploading selfies of their eating Birds Eye foods on Instagram with the hashtag #BirdsEyeInspirations.

Once the photo is uploaded, either the bill is deducted, or the customer receives a coupon for another meal. With this coupon, the brand showcases its offline content in the form of a descriptive menu card, creative display advertising and funky signage marketing the product.

These tagged messages often become fresh online content for the brand, which helps attract customers. Then there are the customer reviews in newspapers, on the radio and on websites that re-affirm what an amazing job the brand’s doing. This is a great way to generate marketing content online and offline from customers.

Image credits: Pixabay

  • Engage with readers on social media and promote your offline content

Finally, the best way to combine your online and offline content marketing plan is to actively market the other channel to your customers. Let’s say you’ve published a book that you’re looking to sell. You offer a link to the free whitepaper, which, in turn, consists of a link to the book purchase page.

You can actively share your whitepaper on social media and ask your readers to check it out. Any promotional content about the book is sure to generate whitepaper downloads, and soon you may see people purchasing your book. You can also seek help from influencers to help with the online and offline promotion. For example, authors-cum-influencers like Neil Gaiman and Gary Shteyngart can do a lot of wonders to your social net worth, not to mention help generate a long line of book reviewers for you in newspapers and literary magazines.

Using Google analytics to track offline and online performance

So, now that you have your integrated content marketing plan underway, it’s time to understand how effective this strategy is. A good way to do that is to analyse whether this combination of online and offline content is yielding any results in terms of increased website visits, page views, engagement or conversions.

Some of the best ways to track the performance using analytics are:

  • Track PPC ads to evaluate store visits and conversions

The Google AdWords application has a ‘conversion tracking from store visits’ feature that helps businesses understand whether a PPC ad click resulted in conversion at the store or not. This is how it works.

Google allows marketers to link their store’s location to their AdWords campaign. Next, Google tracks all the smartphones (who have their location settings on and are logged into Google) to check if they clicked on any PPC ads or not.

By aggregating data from smartphone users, Google gives marketers insight into the number of store visits/conversions within a 30-day window and the number of clicks the PPC ad received during the same time period.

While this isn’t an exact figure, the estimate will help marketers understand how effective their online and offline content marketing is.

Image credits: Pixabay

  • Implement call tracking

Let’s say you’ve listed your website details offline in a magazine. When a customer uses this address and visits your website, your call tracking software assigns them a unique number, akin to a transaction ID. This number can be used to track what the customer does when he/she is browsing through your website. It’s easy to see whether he/she places an order or not.

With the call tracking software, marketers can dynamically assign a unique number to each website visitor. This number is tagged to the IP address of the user and remains the same so long as the customer is using the same computer. This technique gives more realistic outcomes than the PPC ad analysis.

  • Check coupon or offer utilisation rates

One of the easiest ways to check the effectiveness of your integrated content marketing plan is to verify the utilisation rates of your coupons and offers. Whether you’ve listed a QR code online or provided a coupon in the newspaper, each time a customer completes a transaction, his/her details get stored, and the utilisation rate analytics gets updated.

Comparing the total number of offers released in a particular period and the total number of offers claimed, you can verify whether your content marketing strategy is working or not.

  • Share a local domain offline with a redirect link online

This strategy is used when marketers are implementing a very localised content marketing plan, but have a single website which serves the entire country, and they need state/city-wise data about website visits and conversions.

For example, say you run a toy store called Fun Time, and you have a centralised website for the US – However, to attract the local Chicago crowd, you’ll need a more localised URL. Purchase the URL – and post that in your brochure or newspaper print ad in the respective city. On the website, add a re-direct link to the primary centralised website.

Each URL has its own tracking ID, and the will have one too. This ID is its unique identifier. You can utilise this ID to check how many visits and conversions Chicago generated for you. This way, when someone makes a purchase on the primary website, you’ll know which region the purchase order came from.

  • Utilise parameters you can track

There are many parameters that marketers can use and track to understand where the clicks & conversions are coming from. These parameters include – links to customised landing pages, newsletters & social media posts, URLs, redirect links, SEO search and other UTM parameters.

These parameters can be tracked using Google Analytics. They will tell you how many people visited your website, where they were before entering the website, what they browsed for and whether they purchased anything or not.

If you’ve implemented any of the seven strategies we’ve shared above, you can rest assured that Google Analytics will track these parameters and display the quantitative results. To learn how to set various parameters on Google Analytics and to get tips on working on the application, watch this video by the JM Internet Group.

The audience’s role in integrated content marketing

Image credits: Pixabay

Content marketing is seldom one-sided. It is a collaborative process that occurs when brands engage with their readers and consumers.

These days, almost all types of content, from display advertising to press releases to tenders to brochures, can be replicated both online and offline. Most of these can be used to engage customers and create more marketing material. This makes content very flexible and removes any barriers to marketing.

To make the collaboration between online and offline content successful, brands need to work with their audience and drum up opportunities for marketing.